Lake Lanier’s water level is 1,069.95 or 2.05 feet below full pool of 1,071, but that may change after the recent rain flows enter the lake. Water temperatures continue to hover in the low 80s. Lake Lanier is clear on main lake and clear to slightly stained in the rivers and creeks. The Chattahoochee River is clear below Buford Dam. Check generation schedules at 770-945-1466 before heading out to the river.
Bass: Bass fishing remains better than normal and the fish have been biting all day. The best action has been happening when the sun has been high and bright. Spotted bass will silhouette baits against the surface. It is not at all unusual to have a spotted bass charge out of a brush pile that is 30 feet deep to crush a lure on the surface. Large slender top water plugs are working best.
Cast a Super Spook, Sammy or Gunfish over brush piles out on main lake and back into the creek mouths. Swim Baits are also excellent choice for targeting spotted bass. Long slender swim baits like a Sebile Magic Swimmer, SPRO BBZ1 4 inch Floating Shad or a Bite Sized Herring are all working well fished close to the surface over brush this week. Some days the bass prefer these lures worked slow and steady, while other days they will crush them as you reel them quickly on the surface. Not every brush pile will hold active fish, but instead you should plan to do some running and sampling of different areas. Timing can be the difference from catching a limit quickly or going without a bite.
During slower periods spotted bass are eating soft plastic lures on the bottom. Anglers rely heavily on our electronics when fishing deep to not only look for fish but the brush or rock piles that hold them. When you see fish suspended over brush or close to the bottom, you can often fool these fish with a drop shot rig, jig head or jig. I keep an eye on my Humminbird 1158 big screen to see how the bass react to the lures. I can easily see the lure drop and pay attention to how the fish react. Bass will often rise up to intersect the lure or they may follow it to the bottom and sometimes they just flat out won’t react at all. You can sometimes trigger bites from inactive fish by jiggling the lure right in front of their noses, but there are times when they just won’t feed. In these situations it usually pays to find actively feeding fish.
You can also use other lures around brush. Try a deep diving crank bait, fish head spin or a Pulse Jig or Scrounger rigged with a Wayne’s Wild Goby or a Big Bites Cane Thumper. Try to make contact with the top of the brush as you work these lures down deep. There are also some bass relating to the deeper docks in the creek mouths, and these fish will strike moving lures as mentioned above or finesse worms skipped on a jig head to shady areas. If there are brush piles around these docks, then that just increases your odds.
Buzz baits worked in the creeks early in the day are still catching some big largemouth bass. Live bait will almost always produce some good fish. Target the same areas above and either use native spot tail minnows, blue back herring or try an old school trick and work a live night crawler on a jig head or fish them weightless threaded onto a straight shank hook. There are also some good bass that will strike deep diving crank baits fished around rocky banks after dark.
Stripers: Striper fishing has been on and off, but there are some good reports coming from the guides and hard core anglers. Some stripers are being caught in the creeks around deep flats and humps that top out from 50 foot and deeper while other anglers are targeting the very deep timber down around the dam at 120 feet or more feet deep. The stripers are occupying the cooler parts of the water column and can range from 35 feet on down to 100 feet at times. The deeper fish seem to be bigger, but they can be a challenge as they relate to timber that can cause your line to get snagged. The shallow fish tend to be smaller but easier to catch.
Trolling Lead core and Umbrella Rigs are both productive methods for locating and catching stripers year round, and these methods are working well right now. Run your lead core out to 9 colors with a 2- to 3-ounce buck tails tipped with a live blue back or Cane Thumper trailer or use one of the heavier umbrella rigs and troll both of these set ups around 2 mph. Ideally you will want your trolled offerings to run as far back from the boat as possible and to keep the depth they run at right around 35 feet deep. Trolling is an art form for sure, but anglers that master this technique will be rewarded with some great action because at times trolling will outperform live bait fishing. Make sure to invest in a lure and umbrella rig retriever as some of you best action will occur around the abundant flooded timber that is located off the river and creek channels.
Trolling also allows anglers a productive way to fish while they search for the large schools of stripers than can be found in deep water during the dog days of September. Once a big school of stripers is found, you can switch over to live baits while other times it pays to stick with trolling. When you get one bite, make sure to work back over that same area.
Down lined herring continue to work well, but as mentioned above, the best depths to target can change from day to day and also from location to location. The creek mouths on Flat, Young Deer and Six Mile are great places to look for stripers, as well as down around the Dam.
Crappie: Not a lot of reports are coming from the crappie anglers, but you can still be sure they are biting somewhere on the lake. Mark brush piles in water that has a little more stain or color and fish small crappie jigs or try a finesse drop shot rig with a medium light action rod and use a live spot tail minnow or store bought crappie minnows. You can increase your odds by using a 1/8th-ounce crappie jig in place of a drop shot sinker.
There are also some crappie hanging around the bridge pilings where anglers have sunken brush. Put out floating lights and play around with the depths to determine where the fish are biting. Once you determine a depth and the best lure or live bait, use the same set up on multiple rods to increase your odds.
Trout fishing remains very good. The mornings are best if you are fishing areas that get a lot of pressure like the Chattahoochee below Buford Dam. If you do a float between the dam and Settles Bridge it is not uncommon to catch 50 or more trout in a 4-5-hour trip. Once the sun gets up, you will start to see the trout, and when you can see them, they usually can see you. The amount of fish in the tail race section will amaze most anglers, and we often see groups of 20 or more trout in the quieter sections of the river. Anglers can pick their lures of choice but a 1/8th-ounce white and sliver Rooster Tail is my go-to bait.
The time of days does not matter too much if you are fishing a North Georgia Mountain Stream. Some of the streams in the Wildlife Management Areas receive very little pressure, and it is possible to hike way back into some of the harder to reach areas and fish water that has not seen any pressure for weeks. With the recent rains, you can bet the water quality to be high and fast! Fly fishing is one of the best methods to try on these remote streams, but it takes a seasoned angler to fish where the streams are tight and trees and other obstructions make casting a challenge.
Bank Fishing: I will mention this each week until this event but the good folks at the DNR and some great companies including Humminbird are sponsoring the “KIDS” FREE FISHING EVENT on Sept. 27 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. This event will occur at the Lower Pool Park below Buford Dam and is open to all kids age 15 and under. Kids must be accompanied by an adult. Life jackets are highly recommended and are actually required by law for anglers of all ages when wading the river. The Buford Trout Hatchery will stock more than 2,500 rainbow trout at the Dam on the morning of the event. A limited number of fishing poles will be available as loaner poles. Hot Dogs, drinks and snacks will be provided at no charge.