Lake Lanier’s water level is 3.27 feet (1,067.73) below the normal full pool of 1071. Lake Lanier’s water is slightly stained on main lake, and stained to very stained or muddy in some of the feeder creek’s arms and rivers. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear.
Lake temperatures are significantly cooler than last week. Below Browns Bridge to the dam, main lake temperatures range from low to mid 80s. Lake-wide temperatures have ranged as low as the upper 70s up in the rivers to the mid 80s down lake this week. Please check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.
Bass fishing: Conditions have improved in the last two weeks. Even though it’s the last week of August, shorter days and cooler temperatures hint of fall, which is still a month away. The fishing has improved, and anglers have many choices of how and where to fish right now. While this can be great, it is a lot harder for anglers that only get the chance to fish once a month versus others that fish a few days or more each week. We found groups of quality spotted and largemouth bass in water a shallow as one to five feet deep around docks and shallow areas close to deep water close by, and we also found and caught some big spotted bass out in deeper water from the 35 to 45 foot range.
My Nitro had a good workout this week as I fished areas up north in both rivers as well as spending some days down lake within site of Buford Dam. It seemed no mater where we were fishing, north or south, we usually found shallow and deeper bites and were able to catch fish using a variety of lures from a variety of conditions.
The shallow and deep areas that held bass all seemed to have a very common element — baitfish. I am seeing some large schools of threadfin shad, gizzard shad, blue back herring showing up on my Humminbird Electronics Screen, and have also witnessed shad and spot tail minnows skipping across the surface, usually with either one or two bass or a bigger school attacking them. Usually, these baitfish were found in large schools. When the bait was around, the bass were usually there with them.
Right now, water conditions (water color, clarity, temperatures, wave action, oxygen levels, etc...) play a big role in which you will find fish and how to target them, once found. Factors like good oxygen levels and even plankton blooms attract baitfish and, in turn, attract bass. I have had some success out on main lake when the wind has been blowing on rocky banks that have irregular points, recessed pockets or even small islands. Also, seek out areas in the upper rivers and towards the back of the creeks that have current that gets interrupted by cover and structure. Some of these areas have windy sides and all have calm sides and/or current breaks.
Slack water areas may just be a point where wind is blowing or current flowing on one side with an area blocking the wind or a current break. These back or low wind sides provide a little calmer surface where the current builds up and flows around the calmer current break on the other side.
Fish the windy and slack water areas out on the banks. Target the slack water areas out of the wind. We have had some good results casting crank baits like a Little John MD or DD or an all white SPRO Bucktail. You could use other lures, like different crank baits, spinner baits or swim baits. A Fish head Spin or a Scrounger head with a Big Bites Cane Thumper has also worked for us too. Keep these lures in contact with the bottom. A lot of bites occur as you root these moving lures around in the rock, brush and clay, but we have also had some of our bigger strikes occur, as these lures break loose of the bottom and head back through the water column to the boat. It is also worth it to crawl ¼ ounce Jigs with a green Yo Daddy Trailer or Texas Rigged worms dipped in JJs Magic Garlic Dye and cast out deep and drag back shallower to the slack water areas just out of the wind.
The deeper fish we have found can be caught with drop shot rigged with a Big Bites Shakin’ Squirrel or a 5-inch pearl and white Cane Stick. They will also bite jigs and jig head style worms, but the drop shot has been our best weapon. There are a lot of spotted bass that are hitting in brush piles from 15 to 30 feet, but the spotted bass out in deeper from 30 to 45 feet are mostly better fish. The deeper brush and some of the ditches located at the beginning of some of the shallower timberlines in 35 to 45 have been good areas to dial in on. Use your fish finder and look for actual fish and baitfish, because some of the areas have been loaded.
Of course, you will always want to have a top water lure ready. Lake Lanier’s spotted bass population can school at any time. I have caught fish on top water plugs, when the water was in the mid 90s, and I have also caught bass when water temperatures were in the high 40s on a Red Fin. That being said, the top water action really starts to rock when the water temperatures drop below 80, up until they hit 60 degrees, which is approaching fast. Fish will school at any given time or place, so it is really a shame when you see one fast-moving school of fish that disappear within casting distance, only to disappear in the time you could say Palomar Knot.
There are some largemouth and spotted bass biting shallow at night in the creeks and coves off main lake. Cast noisy top water lures like a black Jitter Bug or slow fish black buzz baits or fish bottom bumping lures like deep diving crank baits and large black Spinner Baits and dig them into the bottom. Fish around areas in the creeks that had docks, rip rap, rocky banks are good areas to fish after the sun goes down. Marinas that permit anglers to fish have been great areas to go catch fish.
Striper fishing has been very good for numbers, and OK for size. There are a huge number of 2 to 4-year old stripers, which means the DNR is keeping Lanier stocked well with these hard-fighting fish. While a lot of the stripers are in the smaller range, from 2-3 pounds on up to 10 pounds, don’t worry. The younger, smaller fish tend to be shallower, and are also very aggressive, which accounts for a lot more of the smaller fish being hooked because anglers usually drop down to the schools, accounting for these smaller fish getting first dibs on the food falling from the surface.
Don’t worry. Lake Lanier has plenty of big stripers, too, and there is more than enough bait that does not fall from the lake surface, but instead swims around at the same level as the deep stripers providing plenty of blue back herring and shad. There are also yellow perch, small carp, catfish, and even the occasional brim or crawfish dinner. Stripers are eating machines, so they will eat whatever natures or man offers.
The lake is staying level, and the CORP has been able to pull a lot of water, which seems to have dispersed or brought shallower some of the thermocline. Another angler I spoke with said he was still seeing a solid layer at 27 feet, but I have been showing 24 feet or no real return on my units, so go figure. The bait and fish seem to be all over the place at different depths from 25 feet on deeper, and the same goes for the stripers. The best advice is to watch your electronics and position your lures or trolling set ups where you see the fish.
Down-lined blue back herring are a staple, and this week has been no different. Keeping your bait fresh is always half the battle, but keeping your bait tanks cooler has been a little easier with the milder temperatures. That being said, you will still need ice and salt, as always. Continue to your electronics to locate the large schools of herring and spaghetti that shows larger fish around the bait schools. When you find the herring, the fish should be close behind. Down line a few herring down to the level where you mark fish. If they are there, and willing to bite, it should not take long.
If the stripers are showing on the screen, and you are not catching them, there may be a reason why. I saw one boat catching stripers one after another, while another boat watched close by, while only catching one. There may be one or more reasons why some anglers catch them, while others do not. Use a long fluorocarbon leader as possible to increase your bites, as stripers seem to be very line shy this time of year. Some guides now use leaders on up to 10 or 12 feet long.
Subtle changes can make a difference. Make sure to check one of your baits every five minutes to make sure they are staying frisky. Plan to replace your baits every five to 10 minutes to figure how long you will fish and divide that by six (one herring every 10 minutes) and multiply that by the amount of rods you will put out, and that should tell you how many herring to buy. Example: Six herring an hour times four live bait rods (24 an hour) times a half-day at four hours makes 96 herring (or eight dozen). Oh yeah, by an extra dozen or two, as it is always OK to have extra bait, but it really hurts when you run out, which usually happens when you find that huge, last minute school of fish.
Trolling umbrella rigs, Leadcore with large SPRO Bucktails and Cannon Down Riggers with swim baits or buck tails have also been working for both catching numbers or also catching a few, while searching for fish to drop herring too.
Crappie fishing should start to improve, but no real reports on coming out. Skilled anglers who can fish deep should have the advantage this week. Ten to 15 feet of water in the rivers around docks with brush should be a great place to start up north. Down lake in the creeks, they may be 10 to 25 feet on deep brush, and also shallower after dark on the lighted boat docks or under lights.
Trout fishing remains very productive in the mountain streams and below Buford Dam once the rains when the waters are clear. Use an inline spinner like a small 1/16th or 1/8th ounce Rooster Tail. Cast these small spinners round the rapids for some great action. Use live earthworms with a ¼ ounce split shot below the rapids in the deeper pools where permitted by law.
Bank Fishing: I would be split this week by either fishing for bedding brim with crickets and worms or casting around the brim with a noisy top water bait as mentioned last week for catching bass that target brim bass to eat.
Why not bring lures and rods that can catch both? If you see a bunch of craters that look like moonscape in the shallow sandy bottom close to the banks, pay attention to the size of the craters. Depending on water clarity and light, you may or may not see the brim. If you haven’t disturbed them, you should see the brim circling and circling while they build, then guard their nests/beds. If their nests are the size of a drink coaster, they will probably be smaller then you want to eat, but the perfect eating size for bass. Target these if you are fishing for largemouth bass. If the craters are the size of a small to large plate, then land a cricket or worm inside their bed and hold on.
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. I would love to hear from our readers so please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website at aldrichfishing.com or lakelanierfishing.info. Remember to take a kid fishing!