Lake temperatures dropped slightly last week and are in the upper 70s. The lake level has held steady with very small movements up and down, fluctuating less than a foot since March. The current level is 1,064.61 feet and is 6.08 feet below full pool of 1,071 feet. The main lake is clear to slightly stained and the creeks are slightly stained.
The Chattahoochee River is clear. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.
Bass: Bass fishing is great for some anglers and decent for others. We have caught spotted and largemouth this past week on a variety of lures and techniques. We had some pretty good numbers of fish in the 1- to 2«-pound range with a few big ones to keep things exciting.
Most of the bass anglers I have spoken with recently all seem to have the same question, “where and how can I catch these topwater fish that all the guides talk about?” There are many answers, but it helps to start with understanding what makes Lake Lanier’s bass school on the surface during the heat of the day when most other lakes only experience this type of surface action at dawn and dusk.
Lanier became famous among spotted bass anglers starting around the latter part of the 20th century and the early 2000s after someone illegally released non-native blueback herring into the lake. Blueback herring are indigenous to the Savannah River Chain of lakes and are larger and faster than our native threadfin shad.
While opinions vary, this new food source seemed to be just what Lake Lanier’s bass and stripers needed. Bluebacks prefer the same water depths and temperatures that bass and stripers do, adding an abundant, high-protein food source all year long.
Summer had previously been a very hard time for the bigger predator fish on Lake Lanier because they had to move deep into cooler, less oxygenated water where the native bait fish seldom ventured. Where we used to have to fish deep with finesse worms for average sized fish in the hotter months, now the bass can be found chasing bluebacks out of deeper water up to where they trap them against the surface.
To consistently locate and capitalize on these daytime bass feeding frenzies, you will need to do some work and have the right tools. Running and gunning is a term I use a lot, and it means to fish many areas efficiently during the day.
The key phrase here is “fishing efficiently,” because just running all over the lake making one or two random casts probably won’t net you many fish. Spending some time discovering where fish are holding cover and structure beforehand is the key to developing your list of the best run and gun locations.
Topwater plugs like a Super Spook or BBZ1 Floating 6 or 8 inch trout will entice some trophy spotted bass into biting on the surface. If you cannot catch the fish on top, take the fight down to their level and fish brush or rock piles in water 10- to 30-feet deep.
Deep diving crank baits are my favorite weapon for these deeper fish, and I try to make contact with the bottom or brush to make these fish bite. Slow roll these lures around the bottom for your best results.
Finesse worms on a jig head or drop shot are the main stays, and you can either cast to the banks or over brush, or you can move directly above brush piles or standing timber and watch the fish and your lure on your Humminbird’s screen. Live spot tails rigged on a drop shot rig will almost ensure a great day of fishing.
Stripers: Striper fishing is good and we are quickly approaching some of the best times of year for consistent down line fishing with bluebacks. The same thoughts mentioned above about blue back herring also apply to striped bass. The bluebacks have really made the summertime stripers fat and healthy, so they will probably be your best bet for live bait fishing. Run a flat line and also a down line with a live blueback hooked through the lips.
Run your flat lines behind the boat while fishing down lines directly below. Let your fish catches determine the best method and switch over to all down line or all flat lines as needed to increase your success.
Many anglers, including myself, prefer to catch stripers on artificial lures with an emphasis on using topwater plugs. Grab your heart medication because you may need it when a striper comes out of nowhere and explodes on your surface plug.
Cast lures out over main lake points, humps and even standing timber close to the river and creek channels. I throw a combination of Swimbaits, top water plugs, jerk baits and even Bucktails to any surfacing fish. Trolling a SPRO Bucktail on leadcore at 7-8 colors is just starting to be a good choice and this action will get better as the weather warms up.
Crappie: Not many people are reporting or talking about catching these tasty critters, but I have it on good authority that they can be caught using small crappie jigs and Micro Spoons over deeper brush.
How deep depends on where you are fishing and the water clarity. If you are in the rivers or creeks and the water has a slight or even heavy green tint, you may find the slabs in brush around docks at 5-10 feet deep.
If you are targeting the clearer water down lake, you may need to use light line and work small crappie jigs or a minnow hooked through the lips and drop down to brush as deep as 20 feet. The crappie are also setting up at night under lighted boat docks and also around the bridge pilings.
Trout on the Chattahoochee: Trout fishing remains good. The Chattahoochee River below Buford dam is full of trout and the cooler water provides for a comfortable day of fishing.
Use small lures on light line and crank them slow and steady around the rapids and deeper pools below these same runs. There have been many different types of hatches, so try to match the insects you see to your dry fly arsenal. One of my favorite patterns to fly fish with in summer is a small black ant. Recently I tried a red ant pattern, and it seemed to work just as well.
Bank fishing: Lake Lanier holds a very healthy population of catfish, but they are not targeted as much as on other lakes. Catfish are considered bottom feeders, but they will often strike lures and live bait.
If you can catch some native gizzard shad then cut these up or try them live on a Carolina Rig with a No. 2 Gamakatsu Circle hook. Cast your line out around any bank that has a ditch, creek or river channel that swings close by.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or visit aldrichfishing.com.