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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Bass striking toward topwater lures, baits
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Lake temperatures are in the mid-70s. Lake Lanier’s water level is around 1,071.66, or 0.66 feet above a full pool of 1,071. The lake is clear and the creeks and rivers are clear to slightly stained. The Chattahoochee River is clear. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass fishing is really good, and the fish are striking topwater lures all day long. On most lakes, your best topwater action occurs at dusk and dawn, but on Lake Lanier it’s the exact opposite. As the sun rises over the horizon, pick up a topwater plug like a Super Spook, Sammy or your own favorite and run and gun.

Here is a little secret for our readers: Try an old school popping cork with a large Clouser Minnow fly or a five-inch Jerk Minnow set about two or three feet behind the cork. The cork causes a commotion and draws the bass up to see what it’s all about. Then they will nail the lure following your popping cork.

Main lake brush piles, rock formations and even some of the pockets from 10-30 feet deep are holding large schools of bass. We often refer to these schools as “wolfpacks” because of the way they corral and attack baitfish or, better yet, our topwater plugs.

The bass are seeing a lot of lures, but it does not seem to deter them too much. You can also swim a SPRO McStick 110 with a medium steady retrieve. This lure matches the size and action of a blueback herring. Spotted bass are aggressive, and we often catch two on one lure on the same cast. They will fight over a plug and try to steal it from the bass that is hooked. We call this a true double, and it happens a lot this time of year.

Your electronics will often show bass that are suspended over or away from bottom cover. Fish on your graph the will eat a drop shot or a jig. Drop it down to them for some bonus fish throughout the day. I love video sight fishing with my Humminbird 1158.

In the early mornings and later in the day when the sun is setting, switch over to a mid- to deep-diving crank bait like a Little John DD or Deep Little N and work these lures around main lake points or humps with rock or brush. Try to make contact with the bottom and use a slow-and-steady retrieve.

This same pattern will work well after dark. Night fishing for spotted bass in the fall is an awesome pattern that is overlooked, so you can have the best areas all to yourself.

Striper fishing is good, but they seem to be on several different patterns from day to day and even hour to hour, so have several options ready and keep an open mind. You just can’t go wrong with live blueback herring because that is probably what 90 percent of the stripers are targeting right now.

My graph is showing large schools of herring over deep water and they can be positioned just about everywhere at different times throughout the day. You may mark fish from the surface down to 50 feet deep or more. Some herring are even being corralled against the shore, so you have to keep your options open.

The surface activity in Lake Lanier is just about to improve, but it isn’t quite there yet. Some small schools of stripers are appearing from time to time throughout the day, but they are moving so fast that it is just luck when they come within casting distance. Unlike the bass, these schooling fish have been on top later in the day, but that is going to change very soon.

Combat fishing is right around the corner, but stay tuned in the next two weeks for more details on this fun event.

The flatline and downline bite is probably your best option. Set your downlines to the level that you mark fish on your electronics. Watch your Side Imaging for schools of bait and fish, and adjust your boat position left or right. You can even lay down a waypoint with this technology, so you can get right over the fish.

Flat line fishing has been very good when the fish are active. Use a flat line (just a hook and baitfish) and run it out 100 feet, or so, behind your boat. On calm days this will allow the herring to go where it is most natural, and that is where the striper will lie in waiting.

On windier days or when the fish are a little deeper, add a small 1/four-ounce split shot about three feet above the hook and bait.

You can also peel out 15 or 20 feet of line, attach a balloon to your line and feed out additional line to get your live bait farther out behind the boat.

It is awesome to see that balloon zoom across the surface or disappear when a large striper takes the bait. Use this method or a planner board to get your baits up shallow. A large native gizzard shad can also be used on these same methods to entice a trophy striper.

I have not heard any reports of the Bomber Bite after dark, but that too will get better as the water cools.

Crappie fishing is good and they are biting. Shooting docks with small crappie jigs continues to work. If you catch a crappie, don’t just move on to the next dock. Great anglers will dissect the key areas with skillful cast to catch several more because crappie school up. Where there is one, there are more.

Some reports say that fishing a crappie minnow or live threadfin shad under a float is producing some bites in the rivers.

The crappie in the rivers tend to be shallower than the ones down lake. Fishing the bridges toward the backs of the creek has been producing some fish, especially after dark when you set out lights.

Trout: The mountain state parks are open and trout fishing has been great, but continue to check first before heading out to the National Parks or the Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam due to closures because of the government shutdown.

You can just about pick your favorite method and catch trout because the river and streams are healthy with this year’s rains. Fly fishing has also been good with both dry and wet flies.

Bank Fishing: The stripers and bass are running shallower in the right areas. Stripers and bass are relating to points, steep rocky banks and even in some of the creek coves. Cast a large topwater lure or a McStick, or use a live jumbo shiner on a slip bobber. Make long casts and move around until you find the productive areas.

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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