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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Baitfish and bass go to war
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Water Conditions: Lake Lanier water level is 1.36 feet (1,072.36 feet) over the normal full pool of 1,071. Lake Lanier’s water is clear on main lake and clear to stained in the creeks and rivers. Lake water temperatures remain in the mid 80s. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear. Please check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass: Fishing remains strong. Usually in late June, the bass have already moved offshore into their deep summer locations. Because of the cooler than average temperatures and the frequent rains this year, late spring fishing patterns still prevail. The offshore bite is coming into play, but you can still catch plenty of bass by casting to the banks and fishing docks.

The bigger spotted bass are schooling on shad and blue backs both in the creeks and out on main lake points and humps. Some of this schooling action occurs on the surface, while a larger majority occurs down below. My best friend used to say, “the surface may be calm, but the bass and baitfish are having a war below our boat.” He has since departed, but these words still stand true.

My Humminbird electronics and Nitro Bass Boat are getting a real workout as we spend a lot of time running and gunning, then watching the graph when we stop. On Wednesday, I hit almost 15 areas before we finally found cooperative fish, but that last stop held the mother lode. We caught one after another on topwater plugs, swim baits and then vertically fishing with my graph using a drop shot rig for about an hour before the activity subsided. We repeated this process all day long. At the end of the day, my buddy and I were worn out but we had smiles on our faces.

Most anglers’ number one way to catch bass is on a topwater plug, but site fishing with electronics ranks as the most enjoyable to me. Maybe that desire comes from the video games we played as kids — seeing a fish on the screen, then watching the lure fall as the fish eats it is about as good as it gets. When I take kids or grown-ups fishing that have never seen a modern Humminbird unit they always seem amazed that the small lure and the fish that eat it shows up clearly on the screen. When you think about it, it’s rather humorous. After all, they are called “fish finders.”

The top lures for running and gunning recently include topwater plugs, swim baits, crank baits and some form soft plastics for fishing the submerged brush and channel drop-offs. A drop shot rigged Big Bites Shakin’ Squirrel finesse worm is hard to beat, but you can also use Texas or Carolina rigged worms. Even a football head jig has its place in your fishing arsenal.

The spot tail minnow bite is on fire right now. If you can, use a cast net or a minnow trap, then throw out some grits around sandy areas or boat ramps. You should be able to pull in enough of these native baitfish pretty quickly. Hook your spot tails through the lips and fish them on a drop shot, or downline around submerged brush at 10 to 25 feet deep. Bass, stripers and even catfish will readily eat spot tail minnows, and boating 20 to 40 fish in a day is common. Crank baits, McSticks and slow rolled spinner baits are also working well after dark.

Stripers: Fishing remains about the same but the top water action has subsided. They will sill strike top water plugs early and later in the day, but the stripers seem to be moving a little bit deeper. That being said, they are not really deep because of the lower than normal water temperatures.

Continue to experiment with flat and downlines around the mouths of the creeks and out on main lake. Use a 1/4-ounce split shot on your flatlines to get them down a little deeper if needed, as most of the stripers during the day are in the 10- to 40-foot range. Your electronics are key tools, and my 998C with Side Imaging allows me to see a wide area of water. Side Imaging will also show you where and how deep the fish are located.

Locate the bait schools and the stripers below them and adjust the depths of your live baits accordingly. It is better to fish a little above the schools then to set your line too deep. Lively herring are the best baits to use, but gizzard shad or even spot tail minnows will work well. Make sure to keep your bait tank at the proper temperature and add salt or live bait chemicals as needed.

Usually the shallow Bomber Long A or McStick bite are long over by June, but we have been catching smaller stripers around lighted boat docks at night in the creeks. If the shad are present under the lights, then the predator fish will be close by.

Crappie: Night fishing for crappie is picking up. Get out your floating lights or locate the lighted boat docks, and fish a live crappie minnow or native spot tail under a float or on a downline. You can also cast small crappie jigs or Rooster Tails too. The lights will draw in insects and plankton, which in turn draws in the bait and the crappie. Bridges and lighted boat docks in the back of the creeks are holding crappie right now.

Trout: Fishing is good in all of the state’s trout waters. The consistent rains and mild temperatures are keeping the trout very healthy and hungry. Pick your favorite area and methods, and you should be able to catch you limit. Early mornings and late evenings are best.

Bank Fishing: I owe this bank fishing report to a couple of young future bass pros and subscribers to this paper, Ben Adams and Reid Daniel. They tell me that they are catching spotted and largemouth bass from the shore.

Their main lures have been the Fish Head Spin, shaky head, and the Zara Spook. Flipping docks worked well. Look for docks with baitfish swimming around, and you will be in the right areas.

Eric Aldrich is an outdoor writer, marketing specialist and bass angler. Reports are based on personal experience and permission from a close network of friends. Contact him at esaldrich@yahoo.com or visit his website at aldrichfishing.com.

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