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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Bass fishing remains strong in early fall
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Lake Lanier’s water level fell below almost 6 inches this past week and the lake level is at 1,064.47 or 6.53 feet below the normal full pool of 1071 feet above sea level. The main lake and mouths of the creeks are clear to slightly stained.

The creeks are clear to stained in the mouths and stained in the backs and the rivers are slightly stained to very stained.

Lake surface temperatures are right at 80 degrees and falling. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is stained indicating that lake turnover rill occur over the next couple of months. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass fishing is good.

The fall has arrived and the weather is cooling down. It is a great time to be on the water! The fish are eating a variety of lures and baits and they can be found shallow, deep and everywhere in between.

Most anglers relish Fall top-water fishing and, if that’s your deal, then you’re in for a treat. The fish that are striking top-water baits this week have tended to be larger than average fish and top-water fishing has accounted for some big spotted and large mouth fish in recent days.

Start your days with a jerk bait and fish shallow for the first hour of the day before the sun gets up over the horizon. An SPRO McStick 110 has been my go to lure early in the day and “stupid fishing” with these hard plastic jerk baits is an easy and fun way to get bites.

Tie on a McStick and hit shallow humps, points and pockets out on main lake islands and in the creek mouths. Cast to the banks and just reel with a medium steady retrieve. You can hand a youngster one of these lures on a spinning or spin casting outfit and they will often outfish the adults. These baits mimic a blueback herring perfectly and the fish will absolutely crush them.

This action can continue all day long.

After the sun gets up over the trees, it is time to break out your top-water plugs or even a buzz bait.

A bone or shad colored walking lure has been the go to technique for Lake Lanier’s top-water enthusiasts.

Make long casts over humps and brush then work the lure with a zig–zag retrieve all the way back to the boat.

Some days the fish want a fast erratic retrieve while other days they prefer the traditional “walk the dog” action.

Keep an eye out for any schooling fish and cast your lures into the fray and hold on. I swear some of the bass we have caught hit the lure as it landed on the water while others will strike right at the boat. It’s an adrenaline rush to have a 3 to 5 pound spotted bass explode on your lure just as you were about to lift it out of the water.

The drop shot rig has also been flat out catching numbers of bass and video game fishing can be addictive.

Use a Big Bites Shakin’ Squirrel or a Lanier Baits LJ’s Passion worm on a No. 1 Gamakatsu Light Wire Hook.

Fish are being caught on just about every other method you can think of: spinner baits, buzz baits, crank baits or your favorite worm or jigs. Junk fishing is a phrase anglers use when the fish will hit a variety of lures on any given day.

Anglers that keep an open mind will rule the water in the weeks to come.

Striper fishing has been up and down and the fish are in a major transition. Some are still being caught in deeper water, but my Humminbird Fish Finders show that a large majority of fish are moving shallower in the water column in under 50-feet deep.

As with the above bass report, the stripers will bite a variety of lures this week. Top-water plugs, jerk baits, buck tail jigs, trolling and live bait are all viable options for catching early Fall stripers.

If given only two methods to choose, live bait or trolling should be at the top of your list. Fishing live herring or gizzard shad on both down and free lines will catch small and large stripers.

Let your electronics show you where the fish and bait are located in the water column. If you mark a number of fish above 25 feet deep, then running a flat line (just a hook tied to your line without a weight) behind the boat will get your lures within striking distance.

You can add a small split shot a couple of feet above your hook to get these lines slightly deeper.

If the fish are deeper than 25 feet, then a down line (a one ounce or heavier sinker placed ahead of a swivel with a 3-to-8-foot leader tied ahead of the hook) will work better for these deeper depths.

Trolling an umbrella rig equipped with »-ounce SPRO Bucktails and Big Bites Suicide Shad trailers has been raking up some good numbers all over the lake. Troll these rigs at around 20 feet deep at 3 miles per hour.

Trolling will score bites in the creek mouths and out around main lake from Gainesville Marina to Buford Dam. Find an area that holds fish and make multiple passes before looking elsewhere for more productive water.

Crappie and Bream: Crappie fishing has been up and down and some are catching ‘em and some ain’t!

Fish the brush with small crappie jigs or crappie minnows or try shooting some or the deeper docks back in the creeks.

Fishing under Hydro Glow lights around the bridges or docks after dark may produce the best action right now.

Trout fishing has been a little slower with the stained water on the river and also the lower water levels in the natural mountain rivers and streams.

The good news is that stained and low water conditions will concentrate the fish around rapids and below them in the deeper pools. Light line will help fool the fish plus it lowers the drag on your line whether you live bait fish or use lures.

Use a small 1/16-ounce Rooster Tail in the rapids or cast a Rapala Count Down or Pinns Minnow in the deeper pools below the runs.

Bank Fishing: It’s no secret that a Rooster Tail or Mepps style inline spinner is a proven fish catcher. You can fish these inexpensive lures in creeks, rivers, lakes and even inshore salt water fisheries.

You can cast them out and just reel them in and catch of fish.

Bream, bass, stripers, walleye and many other species of fish will jump on inline spinners so take one to your favorite fishing banks and do some early Fall time catching.

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 or visit his website at or Remember to take a kid fishing!

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