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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Cooling weather dictates changing methods
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Lake Lanier’s water level is 1068.00 or exactly three feet below full pool of 1071. Water surface temperatures have dropped and risen based on weather trends, but are presently in the 60s. Lake Lanier is mostly clear on main lake and clear to stained in the rivers and creeks. The Chattahoochee River is stained below Buford Dam. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass: The weather is cooling and the leaves are very close to their peak color. It’s just a great time to be on the water enjoying God’s beauty. Throw in the possibility of catching a few fish and you have every reason to get out to the lake, rivers or streams to enjoy fun and fellowship with your family and friends. The mornings are brisk, but the afternoons are just about perfect when the sun is out.

If you get out early, then plan on suiting up with your warmer clothes. A motorcycle helmet helps quell the chill when running 70-plus miles per hour but slowing down will get you there a little later but warmer. The change in weather dictates anglers to stay versatile.

It may not seem like it’s time to fish the deeper ditches with jigs and spoons but don’t completely rule out these deeper ditches. We will start to talk a lot about “bass highways” in the next few weeks as bass transition from fall to early winter patterns.

The spotted bass are still schooling out in the creek mouths and main lake humps and points. These bass are mostly targeting blue back herring and at times you will witness some pods of five to 15 bass thrashing the surface as they separate the weaker baitfish from the large schools of herring. At times, I have dropped my rod to just stare at the action.

It is fascinating to see spotted bass that are often over five pounds as they wage war on the baitfish.
When anglers see this and land a lure in the middle of the action, we would think a hook up was guaranteed but most find out quickly that is not be the case. Many anglers make the mistake of changing lures over and over when they will usually do better to fish a single lure they have confidence in.

Use a slender top water plug like a Pop R, Sammy or SPRO BBZ1 and other surface plugs that mimic the four to six inch herring. I have mostly opted for a Big Bites Jerk Shad or a SPRO McStick 110 in natural colors because these lures get down into the action better than a top water lure. Even when you are using the correct lure and making accurate casts, it takes persistence to get these fish to strike.

There are so many herring and the bass are moving so quickly that we literally have to get a lure directly in front of the fish to entice them to bite. The good news is that these schooling bass are consistently bigger fish than the fish that are hanging around in shallow water.

We have had some five fish limits that would go over 20 pounds. That means those five bass average four-plus pounds each. On these days, we have probably only caught seven to 10 bass total in an eight hour day, so persistence is the key to catching quality fish.

Other methods are working very well. We have caught good numbers of bass in the brush piles from 10 to 25 feet, but these fish have mostly ranged from under a pound to around two pounds.

If you prefer quantity over quality, you can often catch 20 or more bass with a drop shot or jig head straight tail worm. The docks leading into the flats are also holding some good fish and you have a very good chance of scoring a few big largemouth bass too.

Target the ditches that lead from secondary points on back into these flats. Keep a top water plug, a jerk bait or a crank bait ready to cast ahead to good looking areas or any schooling bass that you will often see. Night fishing with deep diving crank baits or a large Colorado blade spinner bait and fish these lures slow and steady around rocky points or banks.

Striped Bass: The stripers are moving around a lot. You may locate them shallow in the back of the coves one day only to return to find them relocated out toward the creek mouths on main lake. If you can discover what they are eating, it will help you to unlock the pattern for that day.

You may see dead baitfish on the surface or when you catch a striper or bass because they often spit up the baitfish they are eating during the battle. You may also see what they are eating by watching bait scattering as stripers and bass run through the schools as they try to separate baitfish from the main school where they can pick off individuals.

The stripers are targeting all types of the abundant baitfish populations available on Lake Lanier. Right now, there are multiple patterns because some stripers are targeting Threadfin and Gizzard shad in the creeks and pockets while others are chasing the faster moving blue back herring.

Stripers that are eating threadfin and gizzard shad tend to stay in the same areas for days as they fill their bellies with the slower moving shad. The stripers that are chasing blueback are a little harder to pattern as blue backs can move long distances in a single day.

A great pattern right now is to flat line blue back herring or gizzard shad around the pockets and points both in the creeks and rivers or out towards main lake. Your electronics are essential because you can run around until you find the tell-tale arcs or lines that indicate bigger fish before setting out your lines.

Use planner boards along with a couple of flat lines set directly behind the boat to increase your odds. Flat lining is simply a hook attached to a line with no other hardware. Make sure to hook your shad or herring through the lips to allow them to swim normally while the boat moves. A Gamakatsu Octopus or Circle hook is your best bet because the hooks have less chances to gut hook a striper that you plan to release.

You can also troll umbrella rigs, cast SPRO Buck Tails, Bomber Long As or a McStick 115 to fish that you see on the surface. There has been some schooling activity, so keep a rod rigged with a lure to cast to any fish that appear in the surface.

The top water action has been a little less than in recent years but they may surface at any time.
It pays to be prepared. The Bomber Long A night bite has been getting better and better. Get out from sunset to midnight and cast around the islands with these long lures. A SPRO McStick or a Cordell Red Fin are also great lures to try. Make long casts almost to the bank and reel your Bomber just fast enough to feel the wobble.

I usually don’t mention specific areas, but my best friend taught me how to catch stripers by circling Three Sisters and Van Pugh back in the 80’s and these areas still produce well to this day.

Crappie fishing has improved and these fish should bite well on into the colder months. There are a lot of threadfin shad in the creek pockets and you can bet these crappie are close to this abundant food source. Some “perch jerkers” or crappie anglers have been using multiple light action rods rigged in tandem with small crappie jigs.

Trolling with multiple jigs is an art form, but it is well worth the effort. Set your shorter rods in rod holders towards the back and gradually stagger from medium to longer rods up front. This will help prevent snags and will allow you to cover a wider path to increase your odds.

Start with multiple colors and pay attention to what color gets the strikes then switch most of your jigs to the productive colors. You can use a john boat or Bass Tracker aluminum boat with a single trolling motor set to move your boat from 1-2 miles an hour. Check out some YouTube videos and you can become very successful in a short time with these Lake Rake or Spider Rig methods.

Also, try down lining crappie minnows if you locate a school that is staying put. There are some schools of crappie hanging around the docks with brush. These fish will move shallow to feed, then they will return to an area that they can rest or pick off minnows that pass by. Fishing after dark around the same docks or around bridge pilings, you may have the whole area to yourself. Set out some lights and you should do well.

Trout fishing is good and many of the open trout streams and rivers are right in the middle of some of the most beautiful fall scenery in the Southeast. Fly fishing with a 6 weight fly rod and a selection of dry and wet flies can produce some great catches. Wet flies (flies that run under water) have worked a little better than dry flies (flies that stay on the surface).

This is common as the air and water temperatures cool down. Pay attention to any insects that are flying around the water in the afternoons and try to match the hatch with a dry fly.

Also pay attention to any trout that rise to eat these insects and make accurate casts that allow your fly to drift unobstructed over the fish that have given away their location. Fly fishing is truly an art form and some anglers will not fish with any other method when they get addicted.

Other methods are working so keep an inline spinner or a Rapala. Live bait like worms, corn and Power Nuggets will work well where they are permitted by law. Also make sure you are fishing on waters that are open year round. Some streams are closed for the season.

Bank Fishing: You can just about pick your favorite species to target because a lot of the predator fish are up shallow within casting distance.

If you can find an area that is open to foot traffic after dark you can cast Bomber Long A’s for stripers and bass. You can also set up a slip bomber and cast live baits during the day for stripers, bass, catfish and possibly even a bonus walleye.
Walleyes are very tasty and the can be caught in the creeks and rivers mostly up lake.

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