By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Catching bass may be rewarding or frustrating
Placeholder Image

Lake Lanier’s water level is 1068.23 or 2.77 feet below full pool of 1071. Water surface temperatures have varied between the upper 60’s and low 70’s. Lake Lanier is clear to stained on main lake and stained in the rivers and creeks. The Chattahoochee River is stained below Buford Dam due to lake turnover.

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

Bass: The weather forecast looks great for this weekend and a lot of people will stay away from the lake as they head to the mountains to see the fall colors or to the woods to hunt deer. The peak leaf colors will occur in the next two weeks on Lake Lanier and you can enjoy this beauty from the serenity of your boat or from the banks and avoid the sightseeing traffic in the North Georgia Mountains.

For the most part, the bass fishing has been good. That being said, fall is a major transition time for bass, so keep an open mind. Fishing patterns that worked great one day may change the next. Different patterns have been working well in different areas of the lake.

Whether you prefer to beat the banks and docks in the back of the creeks or run and gun offshore areas, you should be able to put together a successful game plan to suit your personal style of fishing. We have caught fish on just about every lure in the tackle box this week, but a few patterns have stood out from the rest.

The top water action has been happening in some areas all throughout the day, but it has been hard to successfully catch them day in and day out.

Spotted bass and stripers are chasing blue back herring out on the main lake and in the creeks and these fish are more pelagic, relating to the bait schools and not to any particular cover or structure. Catching bass that are chasing herring can be very rewarding or very frustrating.

Anglers that are stubborn may chase these fish around for hours and only catch one or two or they may stumble on to a willing school that will stay put in an area long enough to load the boat in a matter of minutes. Your lure choices should mimic the long slender herring.

A SPRO BBZ1 4-inch Shad, Sammy, Super Spook or a Sebile Magic Swimmer are all good choices because they mimic the silhouette of blue back herring against the surface. Make sure to play around with the speed and retrieve when working these lures because the bass may prefer the lures worked fast and erratic or slow and methodical and this can also change from day to day or even hour to hour.

The most reliable method from the deck of my Nitro Z8 this week has been to work a drop shot rigged with a Big Bites Shakin’ Squirrel around brush on the points and humps in the lower lake creek mouths and on back into the creeks. My Humminbird 1158c’s big screen allows me to specifically see and target small groups or individual bass under the boat.

When I see wavy lines or arcs, I drop my drop shot rig down to them and try to trigger the bites. With quality electronics, you should quickly be able to determine the mood of the fish and make adjustments where needed. When I see my drop shot rig falling and see a fish rise up to intercept it, this usually means the bass are in an active mood and it rarely takes more than closing the bail and setting the hook.

Sometimes they will follow the drop shot to the bottom and you may have to jiggle it in place a few seconds before getting a bite. Sometimes they stay put and suspend or just do not react at all. You can try to stop the worm mid-fall and shake it in place to trigger a reaction strike, while other times they just will not bite and it is time to move on.

There are some good fish relating to the docks and steep shorelines and these fish can also be caught on a variety of lures. Skipping worms or jigs up around and under the docks will work well almost any time or year.

When the water temperatures drop into the upper 60s, like they are now, you can have some great days catching bass up shallow. You can also work a drop shot, jig head or Texas rigged worm and stair step them from the bank into deeper water around these same docks or on rocky banks.

One of the best and easiest lures to work from fall on into winter is a jerk bait like a SPRO McStick, Smethwick Rogue or a Megabass 110. These lures have a similar profile as a blue back herring but they have been catching bass on Lake Lanier and other lakes before blue back herring were even introduced. When the water temperatures are above 60 degrees, you can keep things simple and just cast a retrieve to these lures with a medium steady retrieve.

Most anglers think you have to jerk and pause them, but in the fall I have actually had better luck just casting and retrieving them without any variance.

When the water temperatures fall into the 50’s and high 40’s, then a jerk and pause retrieve can work best. There are many discussions on how often to jerk and how long to pause but usually you just have to experiment and let the fish determine the preferred action for that particular outing.

Live bait like medium shiners and blue back herring will work fantastic for bass right now. The bass are also eating crank baits worked around rocky banks both during the daylight hours and after day.

The night time bites for bass have been very good but most anglers fishing are after dark target stripers. The Bomber Long As and McSticks that they are throwing are also catching some very big spotted bass.

Striper fishing is good and they are biting from the rivers all the way down to the dam. There have been some decent schools of stripers surfacing chasing the blue backs, but this action has been off and on and these fish are on the move.

These stripers that are chasing herring will explode on a well-placed top water plug or jerk bait. Try other lures too, like an old reliable buck tail or even a large silver and white Rooster Tail.

Herring, large minnows and small trout are working well on flat and down lines. Use your electronics to determine the best depths at which to set your lines. In the mornings, pull flat lines across humps and points in the creeks and keep a top water plug like a Red Fin ready at all times.

Cast the Red fin and retrieve it with a slow steady V-wake. The stripers and even an occasional large spotted bass key in on the wake and use it to track your lure. Getting a Red Fin to create a V-Wake can be hard but try slowing your boat down top reduce the drag of your line. You can also replace the front split ring with a loop knot to reduce the weight on the front of your lure.

There are also some stripers chasing small threadfin shad in the creek pockets, so downsize your live bait and lures if you encounter these fish that are eating smaller baits.

Some anglers have been starting to troll umbrella rigs. This multi lure presentation is a great process for putting fish in the boat. Right now, there are some fish back in the creeks and rivers, and the umbrellas rig helps you to cover the most water. Once you locate the fish, then you can slow down and troll or switch over to live baits.

World Series time has always signaled the time to cast Bomber Long As, Red Fins and the newer SPRO McSticks, and there are reports that this action has started. Most of the fish being caught right now are the smaller ones and there have been some big spotted bass mixed in too.

This action will improve and can go on until the very cold weather arrives in December. Cast Bombers, Red Fins and McSticks around the main lake islands and on back into some of the lower lake creeks. The lighted boat docks in Flat Creek have been known for many years to hold some great action after dark for stripers.

Crappie: Very few people are reporting catching crappie, but I can assure you this fishing is getting better and better.

There are crappie down in brush piles down lake in the creeks from five to 15 feet deep and there are some shallow fish biting in the rivers up lake. The deeper fish can be caught on small crappie jigs or down lined crappie minnows and the shallow crappie can be caught lake racking (trolling with as many as twelve rods at a time) or the can cast bobbers between the docks where dock owners have set out brush.

Trout fishing is great in the mountains on creeks. Try an earth worm on a weightless hook and allow it to wash downstream to mimic the nature food for these trout but make sure to check local regulations to make sure you can use live bait.

Dry flies or an inline Rooster trail will work both up in the mountains streams and down on the Chattahoochee River. These same methods are working well down below Buford Dam, but the river is pea green right now for the lake turnover, which will slow the fishing but won’t completely kill it.

Bank Fishing is good right now and a lot of species are biting up shallow. Try a one sixth ounce Rooster tail and walk the banks to catch bass, brim, crappie and even an occasional channel catfish. Few people know that you can catch catfish on lures but channel cats are aggressive hunters.

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

Regional events