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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Cooler temperatures, later hours provide prime bass fishing
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Lake Lanier’s water level is right at 1,066.35 or 4.65 feet below the normal full pool of 1,071. The main lake is clear to slightly stained and the creeks and rivers are stained. The lake temperatures this week have varied from 76 to 80 on my Humminbird Graph and have averaged 78 Degrees. Fall is here and surface temperatures will fluctuate more than usual.

The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear. Please check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass: Fall is officially here and bass fishing has been pretty good depending on the areas fished and the techniques used. One thing is for sure. There are very few places in fall that offer better views of God’s beauty than sitting in a boat watching the sun rise or sun sets as they paint the sky the most incredible colors. It never gets old.

In early fall bass really hone in on their forage base. They also seem to sense that colder days are ahead and they start to feed heavily, building up as much fat as possible. Fall is also a great time get out on to the lake and explore new areas. Boat traffic is lighter and the temperatures make staying out all day a pleasure. I love to visit new areas of the lake that I may not have not seen in years.

When exploring new areas on the lake do a little research on the Internet or ask local tackle stores about the fish’s preferred prey in that particular area.

For example, if you would like to explore and fish up in the Chattahoochee section of the lake (around and up past the rowing venues), it pays to research the type and size of food that bass in a river environment feed on. Largemouth bass are as or more prevalent than spotted bass in some areas up river. If you go way up to or past Lula Bridge, there is a fair chance you could even catch a shoal bass.

You can also fish down lake in the back of the creeks where you will often find very similar scenarios as the river fish so this same action happens in other parts of the lake too.

Some good options for fishing up in the rivers and in the backs of the creeks would include the following set ups. Use a lure that imitates a crayfish. Up in the river you should have at least one rod with a jig and trailer combo. Try your favorite Jig N’ Pig combo or use a Strike King Bitsy Bug with a Big Bites Fighting Frog Trailer.

Another staple is a rod and reel with a shallow running, wide bodied, square bill crank bait like a SPRO Fat John in Chartreuse Black or Citrus Shad color.

Or try your own favorite option that mimics a medium sized brim or large threadfin shad. Bass regularly target 4 to 6 inch brim and gizzard shad. That last essential set up is a casting rod for medium sized swim baits like a 6-inch BBZ1 Slow Sink in wicked perch or blueback herring color. These lures mimic brim, gizzard shad and large threadfin shad.

As we move out of the creeks and rivers and run toward main lake fishing changes. We are extremely blessed. Lake Lanier is well known as a world-class fishery and one of the best power fishing lakes for big spotted bass and stripers in the nation. And, to top things off, fall is when the prime top water action really heats up.

Ask just about any angler on Lake Lanier about the blueback herring and they will not only have an opinion, but usually their eyes light up as they tell you about these prolific, fast moving bait fish. Blueback herring were introduced illegally sometime back in the late 1990s.

As a long time Lake Lanier angler, the only negative thing I feel the blueback herring have done is they have reduced the white bass population. Now 5-pound spotted bass are common, the stripers stay healthy and flourish in the summertime and we have some incredible top water action all day long. This is a fair exchange to me!

We have started to witness some sporadic schooling activity from mostly smaller to medium size spotted bass. You can bet that other anglers have stumbled on some of the same or better action from schooling fish. Very soon we will start to see the quarter-acre-wide schools of spotted bass chasing blueback herring to the surface. As temperatures drop into the mid-70s this action should really get going and it will stay around as long as we have similar weather happens.

To prepare for the day, I lay a swimbait rod on deck, a crankbait rod, a spinnerbait rod, a jerkbait rod and on and on. Just about any rod and lure that looks like a baitfish and that you can cast a mile can work.

Try to keep things simple and pick out a successful herring imitating lure from you tackle locker and keep three or four rods on deck. My choices this week have been my 8-foot Kissel Kraft Rod with an original style SPRO McStick in clear chartreuse, The same style Kissel Kraft medium action crankbait rod and reel with either a BBZ1 Slow Sink 4-inch shad in blueback herring color or a Sebile Magic Swimmer and a medium-weight top water rod with a bone or chrome colored Super Spook.

Lastly I would have to add a drop shot or shaky head with a spinning reel to pick up any fish you see on your electronics.

The last two things I will mention are the bank bite and the night bite. Because it is fall and the air and water temperature are dropping, anglers that just prefer to have an easy fun day can score bass by running and casting to the banks.

As the water temperatures get into the mid-70s bass move shallower and they will eat everything from small crankbaits, Texas or jig head worms live minnows or earthworms under a bobber.

Oh, have I mentioned the bass are biting at night? The bass are biting at night. The bass are…Oh well, you get the point. I have been fishing several times a week after dark and have caught big bass and large numbers (20 to 30 bass in 4 hours) by casting an SPRO Little John DD in citrus shad color to rocky banks down in the lower lake creek mouths. Throw it to the bank, reel it slowly as it digs and bounces of rocks and allow it to hit bottom all the way back to the boat.

Stripers: Striper fishing has just been great and you will have plenty of water to fish during the week. Use your electronics and scan around the lower lake around the dam and on up right out in front of the major creek mouths below Browns Bridge.

I am positive there is also some good fishing above Browns Bridge and up into the rivers, but I am seeing the majority of boats and am also seeing the huge school of stripers mostly within sight of Buford Dam.

Buy or net your own herring. Get plenty because, if you find the schools of stripers and herring, they seem to be staying around pretty well and you might just catch them one after another.

I stood on my deck today watching two boats that were catching striper after striper and watched as my Humminbird 1158c traditional 2/D showed lines and arcs that almost blacked out the screen.

I switched over to down imaging showed hundreds of ovals that indicated stripers, big and small, all hanging around from 70 to 40 feet over a 100-foot bottom. Both boats ran out of bait and switch to spoons and kept catching stripers.

Everywhere I fish I am seeing striper and bass boats with anglers using Ben Parker spoons. Large spoons are very popular up north for fishing for pike and salmon, but bass and striper anglers have discovered that game fish down south also will bite these spoons. Up North, and in some instances down south, people troll with big spoons the same way they do up North. Lake Lanier anglers have discovered that bass and stripers hit these huge spoons either jigged up and down or the preferred method of dropping the spoon down below the school of stripers the reeling them fast back to the boat.

Very often the fast reeling will trigger bites from stripers. We have caught stripers almost every cast on days when they are grouped up thickly. This can be fun and you will almost strain an arm muscle when fishing the spoons with a fast retrieve.

Lastly the fall Bomber A and SPRO McStick action has just started. Most anglers are catching at least a few small stripers and some nice spotted bass casting these long jerkbaits around the Islands after dark. This is a fun style of fishing that my old best friend taught me in the 80s.

Just use a medium-heavy, long rod and use 12 to 20 pound test and cast your lure to the shore and reel it back slow and steady. This action will continue to improve for a month or two or even more. As action picks up, the stripers can also be found around lighted docks in some of the creeks too.

Crappie: Crappie fishing is starting to get better. There are some awesome dock owners who place Hydro Glow lights around their docks.

These areas have been attracting crappie and other game fish from right after sun down until midnight or later in some instances. Cast minnows on a long leader under float or cast small crappie jigs to the area where the light drop off into darkness.

Crappie can also be caught by skillful perch jerkers that are adept at working crappie minnows through strategically place brush from 5 to 25 feet deep. It takes some skill to use an ultralight spinning reel with 4-pound test and working a 1/16th ounce jig up and through the brush but it works. This action will improve.

Trout and Bank Fishing: Combined for this week! Depending on which paper you receive there is one great place to be for both Saturday and Sunday to fish for trout from the bank this weekend. 

As mentioned last week there will be a Free Kids Fishing Event on Saturday, Sept. 26 at the Lower Pool Park below Buford Dam from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. There will be volunteers there to help teach the kids about trout fishing. Hot dogs, drinks and snacks will be provided at no charge!

If you get these reports on Sunday and didn’t make the above event, there is still a great reason to visit the Lower Pool Park below Buford Dam.

The Buford Dam Trout Hatchery just released over 2,500 Rainbow Trout for Saturday’s event and the trout that did not get caught will be all calm and relaxed as they eat anything they please because they know they are safe now that they were not caught the day before!

Go out and feed them a rooster tail or maybe a worm (with a hook in it!).

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. I would love to hear from our readers so please email me at or visit my website at or Remember to take a kid fishing!

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