By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Bass angling starting to improve
Placeholder Image

Lake Lanier’s water level is 1.89 feet (1,072.89) over the normal full pool of 1,071. Lake Lanier’s water is clear on the main lake and clear to stained in the creeks and rivers. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear.

Lake temperatures have risen back into the lower 80s. Please check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

I wish everyone a safe and enjoyable Labor Day weekend! Be careful, courteous and safe out on the water this weekend.

Bass: After a light lull in the fishing in August, bass fishing has taken a turn for the better this past week. The cooler air and water temperatures from last week apparently woke up Lake Lanier’s spotted bass.

They have started to school on top at main lake humps and points as they get ready for the early fall feeding frenzy. This action will continue to get better as fall approaches and the weather cools.

We have started to see some decent schooling action from spotted bass that are chasing blueback herring on the surface. Main lake humps that top out 10-20 feet with brush are ideal places to target.

We love to find these secret offshore honey holes, while other anglers are beating the banks. Large topwater plugs and swim baits are great lures to fish with right now. Cast a Super Spook or a Chug Bug out over submerged brush piles.

If you ask most anglers what type of fishing is their favorite, probably 90 percent or more would say topwater fishing.

Few things in life are as thrilling as seeing a large fish crush a topwater plug on the surface. Some days the fish will prefer a consistent walk-the-dog presentation, while on other days they seem to prefer an erratic, quick retrieve.

When the water is calm the standard walk-the-dog retrieve with a Sara Spook or Sammy will usually coax the fish into biting. When the water is choppy, a faster erratic retrieve may work better using lures like Pop R or Chug Bug.

Experiment with your retrieve speed and lures until you dial into what works best.

While the topwater fishing has just started to get going, I have caught most of our fish this week by vertically fishing with my Humminbird 1158Di graph.

When I see fish below the boat on the sonar, I take a drop shot rig with a Big Bites Shakin’ Squirrel worm and drop it down to where I mark fish. When fish are active you can actually see them follow your lure and eat it, even though they are 20- to 30-feet deep.

Seeing a fish strike a lure on the screen, then fighting a four-pound spotted bass on light tackle is a thrill that many anglers get addicted to.

Other methods are working well, but when the main lake fish go into feeding mode, it is hard to try any other methods.

There are some largemouth bass biting shallow in the creeks and coves. These fish will strike buzz baits and other topwater lures early and late in the day. As the sun rises, try crank baits or jigs out in the brush around docks or small feeder ditches and back in the creeks and up in the rivers.

Striper fishing has also been a challenge. Depending on who you speak with, some anglers are loading the boat, while many others are struggling.

The one consistent thing is that you will have to move around to find the active schools of fish. Keeping your bait alive has also been a challenge.

This is probably due to the variable water temperatures and water oxygen levels of the water.

The downline bite remains the dominant pattern as it has been all summer. Stripers are remaining to roam around from 35-70 feet of water.

If you find them schooling over the flats next to the main lake creek mouths, they seem to be shallower, but if you are fishing closer to Buford Dam as a large percentage of anglers are, they seem to be a little deeper. Your electronics continue to be essential tools from both locating and catching stripers.

Live herring on a downline has been the method that most anglers are using, but there have been a couple reports that trolling is good. Put out 8-9 colors and run your boat around 2 miles per hour and cover some water.

Stay just off of the river channels and run into the creek mouths a little way before your turn around. Use as two-ounce SPRO Buck Tails tipped with a live herring or Hyper Tail. Once you find the fish, stop and set out live herring.

Even when you find the schools, getting them to bite has been a challenge.

The fishing should improve soon and we are not too far away from the fall bite, so keep your topwater plugs and buck tails ready.

Crappie fishing has started to improve. Skilled anglers will have the advantage this time of year because many of the crappie are still deep. Up river you may find them in 10-15 feet of water, while down lake in the creeks they may be schooled up as deep as 25 feet.

Slow trolling crappie jigs with multiple rods is the way to go when targeting these schools of deeper fish. This definably requires some knowledge and skill.

The first thing to understand is that you need very light line and excellent boat control to troll for deeper crappie. A 2- or 4-pound test is the most popular. Keeping you boat speed slow but steady is also a necessity.

High-end trolling motors like a Minn Kota Terrova will allow an anglers to hold a very low speed and some of these motors even have GPS capabilities that allow anglers to hold on a specific area or stay off the bank without even using the hand or foot control. It allows the angler to use their hands for casting and catching fish.

These capabilities along with a high quality fish finder can make the difference between fishing and catching.

Not all anglers have the luxury of all these options, so fishing around deeper docks with brush is a great option.

Drop you crappie minnows down the level where you see fish. Fifteen feet deep is a good starting depth. Adjust your depth according to where you get your bites. Small crappie jigs or a crappie minnow hooked through the back with a small split shot will work well too.

Trout fishing remains very productive in the mountain streams and below Buford Dam. Use an inline spinner like a small 1/16- or ¬-ounce Rooster Tail.

Cast these small spinners around the rapids for some great action. Use live earth worms with a Ú-ounce split shot below the rapids in the deeper pools.

Bank Fishing: Gar live in Lake Lanier and are an under-targeted fish that jump and fight like crazy. You will often see the large predators caught on standard lures, but some angler use a rope lure with no hooks. The gar’s teeth actually get tangled in these rope lures. Check online or at local tackle shops where you can purchase these unique gar lures. You can cast specialty lures in the backs of the creeks. You will be able to see gar when the surface to take gulps of air.

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 or visit his website at

Regional events