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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Bass hitting top-water as temperatures begin to cool
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Lake Lanier’s water level fell below the 1065 mark to 1,064.92 or 6.08 feet below the normal full pool of 1071 feet above sea level. The main lake and mouths of the creeks are clear. The creeks are clear in the mouths and stained in the backs and the rivers are slightly stained to very stained. Lake surface temperatures are in the low 80s. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466. 

Bass: Some anglers have had to work for a limit while others are catching 20 fish or more in a day of fishing. You can tell the bass are ready for the fall — hot weather be darned!

The majority of bass we are catching are fat and have been feeding heavily. Anglers should pay attention to any surface activity in the areas they fish and also watch their electronics to gauge the activity levels of the fish.

We have been starting the day casting spinner baits or SPRO McSticks on main lake humps and points and secondary staging areas in the creeks. Both largemouth and spotted bass can be extremely shallow in these areas feeding on shad and blueback herring. Make casts into shallow water and allow your lures to collide with shallow rocks, stumps and anything on the bottom. A lot of strikes will occur out deeper from fish that follow these lures from the shallow water.

There has also been an OK top water bite early, but this action will heat up as the sun rises higher in the sky.

Unlike conventional thinking, spotted bass on Lake Lanier actually feed more during sunny, windy days. Boat traffic will actually make this bite better as boats and jet skis scatter herring triggering the bass into action. Target points and humps where wind and boat traffic stir up the surface. Any top water plugs that mimic herring will work.

Spooks, Sammys, poppers or sub surface offerings like a Jerk Minnow or Suicide shad are all good choices when the spotted bass are crushing herring on the surface.

When blue bird skies and flat water conditions occur other slower presentations are worth exploring. When you see fish on your graphs over either open water or around brush, use a drop shot rig with a Shakin’ Squirrel or Robo Worm in shad, green or even the popular “morning dawn” colors are essential fish catchers on Lake Lanier.

Casting crank baits or jerk baits around any cover will yield some bigger bites too. This action has also been working very well after dark. Cast a deep diving plug like a SPRO Little John DD or Rapala DT16 around main lake banks with steep drop offs and rock will yield some magnum fish after dark.

Striper fishing has cooled down slightly because the fish have been moving a little shallower. In the summer when the stripers are bunched up in deeper water around the massive herring schools, it is easy to drop a live bait or spoon through these congregated schools. 

As the days shorten and the bait moves shallower it can seem that the stripers have stopped eating. The fact is that they are eating just as much but that they have scattered out because they target food they eat has done the same.

Trolling may be your best bet right now because it allows anglers to cover water and find fish. The umbrella rig has been working a little better and you should run these multi lure rigs in the 20 to 25-foot zone. As the water cools slightly the fish can be found shallower in the water column. Use a slightly lighter 3/4-ounce SPRO Buck Tail and use herring or Suicide Shad trailer. Target the creek mouths both down on main lake and also up above Browns Bridge to Highway 53 area.

Live bait will still be a great way to catch stripers. Herring and gizzard shad are good baits to try. Either use a down line and drop it to the level that you see stripers or try putting a flat line with a quarter ounce split shot out behind the boat.

Floating a gizzard shad on a flat line can yield a big bite from an open water striper or up in the rivers in flowing water.

Keep a top water plug, McStick or buck tail ready at all times in late summer early fall for the huge schools of stripers that will appear very soon. We have seen some small pods of stripers on the top but this action can heat up any time so be ready!

Crappie and Bream: Crappie fishing has been getting better. Continue to dissect the brush with small crappie jigs or down lined minnows from 10 to 25 feet in the creeks. Target areas that have schools of threadfin shad in the creeks and rivers.

Use crickets or worms a foot or two under bobbers around any bank cover or around docks. Small spinners, crappie jigs or crank baits on a light spinning reel or try fly fishing with small poppers on Lake Lanier or in local ponds and lakes for a fun fight any time of day.

Trout will react to the shorter days and fishing will be better as the weather cools. Running water and the deeper pools below the rapids will hold active trout early and late in the day and they will bite all day long during active feeding periods and insect hatches.

Bank Fishing: Bring the whole family to the 15th Annual Outdoor Adventure Day at on Saturday at Unicoi State Park. The event will happen from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., weather permitting, in the large field along Smith Creek downstream from Unicoi Lake Dam. Activities geared for kids and adults of all ages include trout fishing, fly tying and casting, air gun shooting, archery and skeet shooting. Live native Georgia wildlife shows will be featured.

Smith Creek will be stocked with trout during the day and will be open to fishing. This Saturday is a free-fishing day, so Georgia residents can fish without a license. Bring your fishing poles and some bait or lures. If you don’t have a pole, but want to try trout fishing, then loaner poles, tackle, bait and even some streamside helpers will be available.

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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