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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Crappie biting best at night
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Lake Lanier’s water level continues to drop and the CORP has started to place out red low-water buoys.

Currently, the lake level is at 1,066.55 or 4.45 feet below the normal full pool at 1,071. The main lake is clear as are the mouths of the main lake creeks. The backs of the creeks and rivers are slightly stained to stained.

Lake surface temperatures have risen into the upper 80s and even low 90s in some areas. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass fishing has been good some days and tougher on others. Anglers that get out to the lake 3-4 times a week, or anglers who can unlock the fishing cues quickly can score some decent results. We have been targeting a lot of fish deeper but there have been some topwater and shallow water opportunities present too.

Never fish Lake Lanier without keeping a topwater plug ready at all times. Usually the topwater bite starts to fizzle a bit as the dog days start to set in. The good news is that we have seen some very aggressive fish that will slam a topwater plug all day long.

The bad news is that they are not everywhere so you have to keep moving if topwater action is your main deal. Anglers who have a milk run of targets like brush piles, deeper docks and marina sea walls can hit 20-50 areas in a full day and fish aggressively to capitalize on this action. Make 2-5 casts, then move to the next spot.

My gameplan has been to start the day shallow in the backs of the creeks with a buzz bait. The largemouth have been very shallow. They will slam a buzz bait in the right areas. If you see bream in the backs of the creeks, then the largemouth bass will usually be present.

Cast a Lunker Lure Buzz Bait with a Big Bites Suicide Shad or Buzz Frog trailer to any laydowns, docks or rocks in shallow water and keep moving.

As the sun moves over the horizon, go toward the deeper brush piles in the mouths of the creeks and out on the main lake. Areas that have both deep water and shallow water close by with brush in 20-35 feet have been holding spotted bass.

Cast a topwater plug like a Sammy or Pop R over the brush, then work a Suicide Shad on an underspin or crank a SPRO Little John DD and try to make contact with the top of the brush with your lures.

Keep a drop-shot rig tied on at all times to drop to any fish you see on your electronics. There are also many fish that are buried in the brush that will not show up well on your screens but they are there all the same.

Use shad or green colored soft plastics like a finesse worm, Shakin’ Squirrel or hand pour types of plastics on your drop shot rig. I rig my worms Texas style on a small No. 1 or No. 2 Gamakatsu Aberdeen style hook so that they can get through the brush without getting hung up.

I like to use a heavier 8-pound fluorocarbon leader with 16-pound test SX1 Sunline braid to assist in powering the better fish out of the brush. A big spotted bass can bury you in a hurry. It is imperative to get them out and away from the brush as quick as possible.

The spot tail minnow bite has been good around the same brush pile locations as mentioned above. You can catch spot tail minnows around beach areas and boat ramps by chumming with grits or cracker crumbs, then throwing a small mesh cast net over the chum area.

You can purchase these fine-mesh nets at local tackle stores or Bass Pro Shops, but make sure to get a fine enough mesh.

The sales people will help you select the correct net. You can usually catch enough in a couple of throws for a morning of fishing. Hook your spot tails on a drop-shot rig and lower them to just above the brush. Also, flat line one or two out behind the boat. Let the bass tell you which method they prefer.

Striper fishing remains very good if you find the schools of fish that hang out in the deep, cool water during the summer. Years ago, the striper fishing was fair at best during the summer. Since the introduction of blueback herring the stripers now have a constant food source that will hang around in the deepest, cold water that they need to survive.

My Humminbird Electronics are showing a clear thermocline between 25-30 foot of water and 95 percent of the stripers can be found at or below this level right now.

Because locating these large schools is the essential piece of the puzzle, trolling while watching your electronics is a very good way to productively cover water.

Troll a two-ounce SPRO Bucktail rigged with a Suicide Shad or Hyper Tail on 7-9 colors of lead core or use a Captain Mack’s umbrella rig and run it around 30-35 feet deep while searching for these massive schools of stripers with your electronics. If you have a Cannon Downrigger you can hold your lure exactly at the proper depth with ease.

Keeping your herring alive during these hotter days is imperative.

The proper mix of ice and salt or bait chemicals is a key component for keeping baits lively. Lively herring will out-produce lethargic herring 10-to-1. It is also important to replace your bait every five minutes.

If you are on fish and getting bites, you can easily go through several dozens in a few hours, or less. Make sure you have a proper dip net, handle your baits as little as possible and use a heavy sinker to get them down to the warmer surface layer of water to the cooler depths quickly.

Lake Lanier’s stripers tend to be very line shy so use as long of a leader of at least 12-pound fluorocarbon as possible after you have located fish. Always fish your baits at the proper level where you mark fish on your electronics. It is better to aim slightly above the fish but you must keep a bait in front of them to ensure they see and eat your offerings.

Target the lower lake creek mouths near the river channels. These fish can black out your screens from 30-100 feet or deeper. Continue to experiment with power reeling your herring or dropping Ben Parker Spoons when the fish are present but you’re not getting the bites.

Crappie and Bream: Crappie fishing remains slow during the day. Night time is the best time to target the crappie right now. Drop a Hydro Glow fishing light or use a floating light around docks and bridge pilings over water depths of over 15 feet. Drop down lined crappie minnows or cast small crappie jigs. Vary your depths until you dial in the most productive one to catch fish.

Bream fishing has been very good on Lake Lanier and in smaller subdivision or farm ponds and lakes. It is hard to beat a cricket or earthworm hooked a foot or two under a bobber in the summer time. When using crickets, attach a small split shot a few inches above your hook.

With live earth worms, it is often better to fish them weightless as a worm will sink naturally under water. Use just a hook with no snap or swivel. Make sure you cover the hook tip with you bait to combat those pesky bait robbers.

Trout fishing: The trout fishing is very good on the Chattahoochee River in the mornings and good to fair the mountain streams and rivers. Some of the smaller streams in the mountains could use some rain and fishing is not as good during the hotter months when current flows slow down and water temperatures warm up.

River races below mountain dams are great areas to target in the summer.

Rooster tails, Small Yo-Zuri Minnows or live worms or corn (where live bait is permitted) have been working on the Chattahoochee and mountain rivers.

Bank fishing: During low-light periods, topwater fishing can be very good during the dog days of summer, especially on farm and subdivision ponds.

If you can gain access to these hidden honey holes, you can enjoy some fantastic fishing early and late in the day when the heat is not as bad. Lures like a SPRO Bronzeye Frog, a Jerk Minnow or Fluke are great choices because they will get through lily pads, grass and matted vegetation. They also will not snag on the bottom. Make casts parallel to the banks.

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. He would love to hear from readers, so please email him at or visit his website at or Remember to take a kid fishing.

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