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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Bass and stripers move shallower as days shorten
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Lake Lanier’s water level is currently 1,065.51 or 5.49 feet below the normal full pool of 1,071 feet above sea level. The main lake and mouths of the creeks are clear. The backs of the creeks and rivers are slightly stained to stained. Lake surface temperatures dipped a little with last week’s cool spell but are back up in the mid 80s. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466. 

Bass: Depending on whom you speak to, bass fishing has been everywhere from good to very tough. Frankly, in my boat it has been more towards the tough side for sure!

The drop shot will still get you some bites, but it seems like these fish are the smaller ones. You may catch a few good ones if you stick with it. The fish can be schooled up tightly in off-shore brush or you may see them roaming around or suspended over open water on your electronics.

The bass that are suspended can be some of the toughest to catch, but there are ways to coax them into feeding. First of all, you must determine the depth at which the fish are suspended. Then you have to find a lure that will stay around that depth. I have seen a lot of fish in the 10 to 15-foot range.

Try swimming a 3 1/2-inch Big Bites Cane Thumper on a drop shot rig through these fish to get a bite. A 1/8th ounce drop shot weight with a 3 1/2-inch Cane Thumper on 16-pound Sunline SX1 braid drops at a rate of about a foot and a half per second. Just cast this lure out, count down to the depth you want to reach then swim the Thumper through the school. Impart the occasional twitch, but a slow, steady retrieve works best. Once you get a bite, boat and release the fish quickly and make another cast ASAP as hooking a fish may activate the whole school. You can test your own rig’s drop rate using your electronics and counting it straight down while watching your screen.

There have been some bigger spotted bass schooling around the bigger brush and timber offshore. Cast a large walking bait like a Super Spook, Vixen or a large 5-inch Jerk Minnow or Super Fluke. The fish seem to want different retrieve rates but start out fast and slow it down until you find the cadence that makes them bite.

There have also been some good spotted and largemouth bass shallow early in the day. A SPRO Little John MD or Fat John 60 have been good choices. Make casts to any points or humps in the pockets next to shallow flats. If there is rock or brush present that’s all the better. Try and make these lures hit and deflect of the bottom to enlist a reaction strike.

Spinner Baits or small top-water popping plugs have yielded a few shallow fish before the sun gets high in the sky.
I forget to mention this, but, when fishing is tough, the tough get a cast net and go catch some native spot tail minnows.

These minnows are like bass candy and they will produce fish when nothing else works. Hook spot tail minnows through the nose and use a drop shot style rig to get them down around main lake brush piles. You can check in with your local tackle dealer, watch YouTube videos or ask a friend to show you how to catch these plentiful bait fish!

Striper fishing is good, but the fish are moving into shallow water every day. I would expect the top water schooling bite to get going once the water temperatures get into the 70s, but for now the fish are still down around the thermocline. My Humminbird shows that thermocline to be around 27 feet deep and I have seen concentrations of fish from that depth on down.

Early in the morning, start out around the creek and river channels and move up shallower into the feeder ditches or depressions that lead into deeper water. I thank my Facebook friends and one of the local guides for sharing this pattern with me. The fish have been bunching up in ditches with a bottom depth of 25 to 50-feet deep.

Look for the majority of these stripers to hang right around the 35 to 45-foot mark but some will be shallower and some deeper. These fish are up in the areas for one reason only–to feed! Make sure to drop your live baits down to the top of the school. Then let them free fall to the bottom and power reel them back through the school when it is time to replace them with a fresh bait.

You may catch these same fish casting a SPRO Buck Tail with a Suicide Shad, then letting it sink to the bottom and reeling it medium fast diagonally up through the schools. Trolling umbrella rigs or buck tails tipped with a live herring will also work, especially around these shallower feeders.

As the day goes on the fishing has been a little slower, Don’t forget those deeper, late-summer locations in the middle of the day. There are still some good schools of deeper stripers that will bite the same above mentioned lures and baits. They may just be a little deeper.

I have seen plenty of boats fishing offshore after dark down toward the dam, but have not personally seen any reports of the results. I bet they are there for a reason. Put out a Hydro Glow Light and drop some bluebacks or gizzard shad you may just get your string stretched for sure after dark.

Crappie and Bream: Crappie fishing has been slow. Keep targeting brush in the 20-foot range with live down lined minnows, small grubs or small crappie jigs.

There are piles of bream after dark around the Hydro Glow and Dock Lights. Drop a small crappie minnow on a very small Aberdeen hook with light line and no sinker and set it about three feet below a bobber to allow the bait free movement. This technique will catch some eating sized bream for the fryer!

Whether you fish Lanier or your local pond, the bream are biting during the day too. Use the same rig with a minnow as mentioned above or try a live earth worm. Other lures like small Rooster Tails, grubs or even dry flies will produce some good bites.

Trout Fishing: During the recent cool spell the trout fishing improved, but it got hot again so trout fishing remains OK both on the Chattahoochee River and the mountain streams and rivers. Live earth worms, corn or Power Nuggets are all good choice where live bait is permitted. Hook these baits on a small hook and use a 1/4-ounce split shot to get them down deeper. A countdown Rapala has been working well on the ‘Hooch. Cast these lures on light line, let them sink for about five seconds and reel them back to the boat or bank with a medium steady retrieve.

Bank fishing for bass in the morning has been good. Use medium-weight spinning tackle with standard monofilament and cast small top water plugs or shallow running crank baits parallel to the bank. Target any laydowns or rocky banks for your best results. The bass that have been shallow on Lake Lanier are eating smaller threadfin shad and the bass in local ponds are also suckers for these same lures.

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. He would love to hear from his readers so please email him at esaldrich@yahoo.com or visit his website at aldrichfishing.com or lakelanierfishing.info. Remember to take a kid fishing!

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