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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Bigger bass spread out over Lanier
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Lake temperatures remain in the mid to upper 80s and the lake water is clear on main lake and clear to slightly stained in the creeks and rivers. Lake Lanier water level is at 1068.8, down 5.2 feet below the normal level of 1071. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass fishing has been a challenge for anglers who beat the banks. There are a fair bit of smaller bass in water less than 25 feet deep. Most of these fish range from very small spotted bass that were just hatched this year up to to 1- to 2-pound keeper bass.

The bigger fish seem to be scattered and suspended, or they are roaming around in the deep brush and standing timber.

In past years, when the lake was down, many of us saw tree tops that were exposed by the lower water levels.

Some of these same trees are where we're catching our better fish.

If you did not see or do not remember where these trees were, then you can rely on your side-imaging electronics to find these off-shore honey spots. My 998c unit shows clear images of trees on side- and down-imaging modes.

When approaching this standing timber or deeper brush, try to cast a lure over the top of the structure before moving over to work it vertically.

Sometimes the spotted bass may be suspended in the middle of the water column, and sometimes these fish can be triggered into striking a lure. Topwater plugs, swim baits, and a rooster tails are all great choices.

This past week my better spotted bass have come by working a drop-shot Big Bites cane stick vertically over isolated off-shore standing timber. Big hardwoods that have a large crown of branches below the surface have been productive areas to explore.

We have these trees both above and below Browns Bridge. These trees and deeper brush seem to hold active schools of bass during different times of the day so timing is everything.

We worked our drop-shots over some very productive-looking timber early one morning to no avail, but when we revisited it later in the afternoon we caught several nice spotted bass in less than 15 minutes.

The largemouth bass in the rivers are biting first thing in the morning and toward sundown. They will strike buzzbaits or other topwater offerings when the sun is below the horizon.

Switch over to a deep-diving crankbait like a DD22 or a Little John DD in clear chartreuse, or cast a Carolina-rigged worm around the creek channels or brush piles located near the drop-offs.

Live spottail minnows continue to be the bait of choice for anglers that want to ensure a day of catching.

Stripers: The guides continue to report that the striper fishing is great.

Twelve or more years ago, summer fishing for stripers on Lake Lanier was the toughest time to catch these line sides.

Around that time someone illegally introduced blueback herring, which are a native baitfish on the Savannah River and its impoundments.

Bluebacks, like the stripers that eat them, prefer the deeper cool water that our stripers also seek out in the hot summer. Before this happened, the stripers got very skinny during the summer months, but that is all a thing of the past.

There are some very large schools of stripers that will show up on your fish finders from 50 to over 100 feet deep. Continue to down-line live bluebacks at the same or slightly above the level where fish appear on your screen.

These large schools of stripers appear as long wavy lines that we often refer to as "spaghetti". Continue to use the liveliest bluebacks and change baits frequently. An active, healthy blueback will out-produce one that is slow or almost dead 10 to 1.

If you do not find these large schools, then start around Browns Bridge and move south. Troll a two-ounce SPRO bucktail and make sure to follow the river channel and also explore the large standing timber flats that are just off the river channel.

Troll your lead core way out to eight colors or set your down-riggers at 40 feet deep.

Crappie fishing is slow during the day, but I heard a report that some anglers were catching them at night under the bridges.

Use a light when fishing at night to draw in the native bait fish. Often there will be no fish showing up on your finders when you first set out your lights.

Then when the native bait fish appear, the crappie and other game fish will appear out of nowhere to eat the bait fish and also your down-lined minnows.

Trout fishing has been good in the mornings on the Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam.

I often mention that the early mornings and also the period right before sunset are your best times for catching trout.

Live bait above Highway 20 is a good choice, but be aware that a large section of the river is restricted to artificial lures.

The colder water of trout creeks and rivers tend to create a natural air conditioning.

The fishing in the mountain streams can still be productive even with the lack of rain.

Cast small silver or other colors of rooster tails around the rapids and pools both on the river and also up in the mountain Wildlife Management Areas.

I like a 1/16 white and sliver rooster tail because I feel they resemble the small threadfin shad that get washed through the dam.

Trout fishing below Buford Dam remains consistent. Get out at daybreak for your best success.

Bank fishing: At certain times of the year, bank fishing for bass on Lake Lanier can be productive, but during the summer months it can be a bit tougher as the bass move off shore or deep.

Bass fishing can be great if you can get permission to fish a private honey hole.

There are many small farm and subdivision ponds that can be very productive. The oxygen levels in the ponds can often be the highest in the top layer of water, so the bass are in reach for anglers who fish from the shore.

Try a topwater lure at daylight, then switch over to a Texas-rigged worm or small to medium crankbaits or swimbaits as the sun rises.

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 esaldrich or visit his website at


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