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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Cooler weather brings combat fishing
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Lake Lanier’s water level is 1,067.72 or.3.28 feet below full pool of 1,071. Water surface temperature have dropped and risen based on weather trends but are presently in the lower 70s.

Lake Lanier is clear to stained on main lake and clear to stained in the rivers and creeks. The Chattahoochee River is stained below Buford Dam. Check generation schedules at 770-945-1466 before heading out to the river.

Bass: The weather is awesome, the leaves are changing color and there are few things that can beat being on the water on Lake Lanier in fall. The bass fishing ranges from good to great for anglers that are knowledgeable with where the points and humps are located from the upper Chestatee and Chattahoochee rivers on south to Buford Dam.

This past week anglers who move around are finding schools of spotted bass that will attack top water plugs or other sub-surface offerings. When you locate acting schoolers, cast a top water plug like a Redfin, Super Spook, Pop R or try a SPRO BBZ1 6 inch floating swim bait. Land one of these lures in the middle of a school of spotted bass on the surface and hold on!

Even when the water seems calm, you should always make a cast over brush piles, humps or points as you work your way around fishy looking areas. You may very well pull a big school of Lake Lanier’s big spotted bass, so make sure your fishing partner has a lure ready too. These fish are suckers for just about any medium to large top water plug, or try casting a SPRO McStick, Jerk Shad or Fluke.

These same fish can also be picked off by watching your Humminbird fish finder and letting your drop shot rigged worm to fall through the fish that appear directly below your boat. My best friend who passed away a few years back used to always say, “The surface may be calm, but world war three is happening between the fish and the bait fish just underneath the water.”

If you think about it, he is right. Even on the best day when schooling fish are everywhere, we still only see a fraction of what lies beneath the surface. The lake is just starting to turn over a little bit in areas, but the majority of the water remains clean and clear, which helps the top water bite. Both spotted bass and largemouth are targeting blue back herring, threadfin shad and even gizzard shad in certain areas too.

While a lot of bass are out on main lake targeting, schools of bait fish both spotted and largemouth bass can be found just about everywhere from main lake on into the back of the creeks this time of year. These fish, especially largemouth bass eat other forage like bream, crayfish, worms and other offerings that they can pick off. Bass are opportunistic feeders, so if something that looks like food appears within seeing distance, it usually triggers them to feed. For anglers, this is great news. Practice casting a jig head rigged worm, a crank bait or other lures into tight areas where bass lie in wait.

Two other types of fishing deserve mention too. Many of the anglers targeting stripers are catching bass, so live bait works extremely well for anglers that are just wanting to catch fish. Use medium shiners or net up some native threadfin shad or spot tail minors and fish them on a flat line with no weight or a drop shot rigged hook. Hook these bait fish through the lips for a natural presentation.

The other method is to fish a crank bait after dark. Any deep diving lure that hits bottom up to 10 to 12 feet deep will work, but I am partial to a SPRO Baby Little John fished with 10- to 14-pound Sunline Sniper fluorocarbon. The fluorocarbon will help the lure run deeper and will let you feel the lure better. This along with Kissel Kraft Custom rod will allow anglers an advantage because they will feel everything and can distinguish between and brush pile and a bite.

Striper fishing is just starting to really get good, but as of this writing, things have been a little slow. Watch for recent weather fluctuations to get the fish fired up! Right now anglers are relying on their electronics to , find the schools of stripers that seem to be hiding away. Both down lines, flat lines and even some trolling has been working OK at times. Live blue back herring or naturally caught medium-sized gizzard shad have been the best baits because this is what the stripers are eating naturally on Lake Lanier.

There are some schooling fish, but this action had been sporadic. That being said, we are very close to fall top water time. In the next few weeks we can expect the stripers to start coming to the surface as the thermocline starts to break apart.

Cool weather will trigger these fish into biting and they will be chasing blue back just like the bass are right now. Large top water plugs will start working for these fish. If the wind is blowing, cast a large super spook or a big red fin around humps or points on main lake and into the creeks. If the water is glassy, throw a medium to large chrome Redfin around these same humps and points leading into the creeks.

Combat fishing is just around the corner. This term basically means multiple anglers working the same school of fish at the same time. It can get crazy at times as anglers cast over each other lines to a large schools of stripers breaking on the surface. The stripers will come up and thrash around on the surface chasing these fast-moving blue back herring. Then they’ll sound and reappear in another area almost a quarter mile away.

Then the whole armada of boats will start up and race over to them trying to be the first ones to cast to the school. This process repeats over and over, and it can get real crazy. So remember to stay safe, and if you see this action, move on and find your own school of fish.

Schooling fish can be hard to target, but if you get there first and land your lure in the middle of the school, it’s hard not get a hookup. When this action is just starting, stripers seem to be real suckers and will eat almost any offering. As the season moves on, the fish seem to get smarter and it gets harder and harder to get a hookup even if you land your lure directly in the right spot. Keep looking around early and you may be one of the first anglers to enjoy some schooling stripers and have them all to yourself!

The Bomber Long A bite is still not really happening, but as mentioned above, keep trying and you may encounter some after-dark action very soon!

Crappie: Still no real reports of these tasty fish, but one angler I have spoken with said he was OK with me sharing that he is catching some crappie around his dock by casting and letting his jig fall to the bottom in about 20 feet of water. Then he works the jig up hill and over brush piles.

He says he is getting some bites out deeper from 15 to 10 feet deep and has caught some early and late in water less than 10 feet.

I am still seeing some crappie hanging around the bridge pilings with sunken brush and have also seen a few up shallow after dark around lighted boat docks. The lights are attracting lots of bait fish and bass, crappie and even some small stripers are coming in to feed on them. Pay close attention to the area where the light fades of quickly into the dark and you will see some action happening in this area around the lights.

Trout fishing remains very good in the mountains and the afternoon rain storms are helping this action. Trout are biting all day long if the water is clear.

It can be harder to catch trout after a hard rain if the water is cloudy, but a lot of the mountain streams stay clear because there is very little run off.

Fly fishing anglers should turn over rocks and see what lies beneath or match the hatches in the afternoons. Rooster Tails and Mepps Spinner get the nod for anglers that fish artificial lures on spinning tackle. Of course nothing much beats a live earthworm fished weightless through the pools right after a rain storm. Just check local regulations before using live bait.

The tail race fisheries are not as good due to lake turnover. The water may be a stained green color, but the fish are still present. Fly anglers may have a harder time below dams on lakes where the turnover is occurring. Fish brighter colors when fishing stained water. For spin casting, it’s hard to beat a Mepps Spinner because the blade makes a subtle thumping action.

Bank Fishing: Bream and Bass are shallow right now. Go and dig up some earth worms and cast them out around rocks or trees that lie down into the lake. This will work well for angler fishing from the banks on Lake Lanier or farm and subdivision ponds. Other species will eat earth worms too.

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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