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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Bass fishing varies greatly based on the weather
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Lake temperatures are in the mid to high 50s. Lake Lanier’s water level has actually risen .12 feet above full pool and is 1,071.12 feet above sea level (full pool is 1,071).

This creates a unique challenge for the CORP as water levels are usually dropped for winter pool in anticipation of late winter and early spring rains. The lake is clear. The creeks and rivers are clear to slightly stained below Browns Bridge, and clear too very stained in the rivers above River Forks. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is really clearing up.

Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Christmas gifts for anglers: Here’s a quick note if you are shopping for someone who is an angler. Depending on your budget and the experience of the angler you are buying for, there are many great ideas so I thought I would share this.

First and most importantly, if you are buying fishing equipment for children or teens, spend a few extra dollars and get a Coast Guard approved PFD (personal flotation device) and make them wear it when they are around the water or on a boat.

For a child 4-8 years old, there are many fishing rods that have cartoon or movie themes like Barbie or Star Wars.

They come with practice weights with no hooks for well under $20. For kids age 9 to early teens, a good old reliable Zebco 33 rod and reel or even a medium-weight rod with a spinning reel is great.

There are many brands. All of the appropriate stores can lead you in the in the right direction. These outfits can be hand for less than $50. For older and more experienced anglers, buy a set of lures.

You can purchase a couple packs of worms, a couple of lures, some Gamakatsu Hooks, plus a fishing hat for under $50 and make an awesome present for just about any angler.

Small Tools like a leatherman tool kit or LED Lights that go on or are built into a cap are always good tools for any outdoor enthusiasts.

Lastly, give a gift certificate from a reputable guide. These usually range from $250 or more for a half day or $350 for a full day on the water. There are many great guides.

Plus, if they don’t have any one else to take with them, then maybe you can go along to make sure they enjoy the gift.

Bass fishing has ranged from slow to excellent, if you can find the right areas and patterns for the current conditions.

The challenge is that the current conditions seem to change daily, if not hourly with the crazy weather we have had this past week.

One day it’s sunny and mild, the next day raining, then the next is cold and windy. The good news is the bass are still eating and when you unlock the pattern, you can catch some of the biggest bags of the year right now.

Two lures have really shined this week: A jig or jig head with a crawfish type trailer or a crank bait. If you prefer the jig, then you have several options as you can fish them shallow or deep and catch good fish.

The fish have been very shallow and still are in some areas, but I have started to see more heading into the ditches and 15-30 feet has been the most consistent depth most or the day.

A crank bait can cover water up to 20 feet deep.

Earlier this week, we caught more than 20 keeper spotted bass in one a day with several ‘magnums’ mixed in with the numbers. On another day, we struggled to catch a small limit in the same areas and with the same lures.

The water temperatures are just about perfect for fall and the fish are feeding heavily on threadfin shad, blueback herring or gizzard shad.

Bass are opportunistic feeders and will also take advantage of bream and crawfish too. It is important to understand what forage the bass are keyed in on so that you can match your fishing lures size and color to the forage they are targeting. Because of the variety of food, you can catch bass on many different patterns.

Keep an open mind until you find one that produces best for you.

Crank Baits cast around rocky banks will produce some big fish and a SPRO Baby Little John or a Deep Little N in shad colors is a big fish lure right now. Use the crank baits around rock during the active periods during the day.

When the wind starts blowing, head out to where the waves crash into steep banks. Sometimes it can be hard to control your boat and cast at the same time. If you can tough it out, you may catch some big bags of spotted bass or stripers.

Try a jerk bait like a SPRO McStick 110 or a medium sized Bomber Long A.

Use an aggressive jerk-and-pause retrieve. I love the feel of that “thud” when a big fish stops the lure and just about pulls your arm out of its socket.

We have even had some good success in the pockets both during the day on jig head worms or after dark slow rolling crank baits. Use a crawfish style worm on a Gamakatsu Alien Head stand up jig head. These lures will stand up with their claws in a defensive posture like a real crawfish.

Striper fishing is very good. Striper anglers are also catching a lot of bass just as bass anglers are catching a lot of stripers.

We have witnessed some large schools of stripers from the mouths of the cove in 35-65 feet and also some of the same schools moving into very shallow water.

The deeper fish are tuned into eating blueback herring. They will bite a SPRO Bucktail with a Cane Thumper trailer or the same kinds of jerk baits that I have mentioned are good for catching bass.

Use a combination of down lines and flat lines as the blueback eating stripers will move up and down very quickly.

Trolling a Mack’s 4 arm Umbrella Rig set up with SPRO or Mack’s Bucktails with a Jerk Shad or Fluke trailer has been working better than live bait in some areas. Troll this rig slow at just around two miles an hour and speed up and slow down to vary the depth as you go over humps and down into the ditches and channels.

Anglers who prefer to fly fish for these large predators are having a field day back in the coves.

Small streamers, clowser minnows and other small shad imitators have been outproducing most bait and lure anglers. These stripers are keyed in on large schools of threadfin shad and threadfins don’t move very far. You can stay put and catch plenty of fish without burning a gallon of gas.

Crappie fishing is very good if you can figure out the depth of the fish.

I know one angler that is shooting 1/16th-ounce Hal Flies under shallow docks near the threadfin shad schools and is wearing them out.

Other anglers report that down lining small crappie minnows or fresh caught threadfin shad in brush around docks from 10-25 feet deep.

Use your electronics and look for the tell tale signs of crappie. They tend to be grouped up tight both around brush or even schooling just off the docks.

My Humminbird’s down imaging will show crappie and small oval shapes that tend to be schooling almost in a pattern versus other species of fish that show up grouped up randomly.

Trout fishing is good. The river below Buford Dam is looking much better. Live earthworms on a bottom rig are working very well from the Dam south to Highway 20. The section below Highway 20 is artificial only. This time or year, threadfin shad get washed through the turbines.

Cast a small black and silver Rapala up stream. Fish it like a jerk bait with stop-and-jerk retrieve. You may catch some of the larger trout.

Bank Fishing: Since the water below the dam is looking so good, it is a great area to fish. The mountains streams and rivers are running clear and are very healthy do the consistent rains we have been blessed.

Novice and skilled anglers alike can enjoy trout fishing. All you need is a light spinning rod and some live worms — where permitted by law — or a small inline spinner.

If you are a skilled anglers, you probably don’t need my help other than to tell you trout fishing is very good in North Georgia right now.

Get out there and fish.

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

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