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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Fall-like weather brings pleasant fishing
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Lake temperatures are in the mid to lower 80s. The lake level is 1062.45 feet, 8.55 feet below full pool of 1,071 feet. The main lake is clear and the rivers and creeks are clear in the mouths and stained, or even muddy, where they feed in from the backs. The Chattahoochee River is clear below Buford Dam. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass: It has been hard to leave the lake with the pleasant conditions, so we have been out on the water more days than not. I have spoken with some anglers who are really struggling, while others say they are doing well. We had one of our best days this summer in the past week, so I would recommend that if you are not catching good fish then consider a change.

The largemouth and spotted bass seem to be on several different patterns and I have caught some good ones both deep and shallow this past week.

Your electronics are key tools for catching the deep spotted bass out on the main lake and in the mouths of the creeks. We are seeing a lot of suspended fish in over 25 feet of water but not all of these fish are on the bottom.
I believe that the fish are moving around a lot more and have caught my better spotted bass while “sight” fishing on my Humminbird 858c. Yesterday I was moving between two brush piles and the screen lit up arcs that indicated some larger spots. The drop shot rig went down and caught a nice 4-pound spotted bass. After releasing this fish I looked for more and the area was suddenly devoid of fish.

Most of the bass we have caught, both deep and shallow, are coughing up tiny threadfin shad and there is a lot of bait on the surface all over the lake. When there is an abundance of bait as we are seeing now, the fish have so much to eat that it can be hard to get them to notice our offerings.

While using small lures will increase the numbers of fish caught, you may also have to weed through these smaller bass to catch some good ones. We have seen schools of both spotted and largemouth bass midway back into the creeks and also off the lake in some of the larger pockets.

A smaller topwater plug, spinner bait or Fish Head Spin are good choices, but try to let your lures get down a little deeper as the larger fish seem to be feeding under the smaller ones. A SPRO Little John MD, #7 Shad Rap or other medium diving crank bait is a good choice as these lure will run a consistent 6-9 feet deep and will hook some of the better subsurface bass.

We have also been beating the banks midway back into the creeks and also in some of the shallower pockets that have tapering banks. Cover like lay downs, docks and brush up against the banks seem to be holding the better fish. Live spot tails minnows on a flat line have been producing better than down lined minnows.

There is one pattern that I have seen very few anglers capitalizing on, and that is the night bite. With school back in session people are evacuating the water at sunset and we have been working crank baits and large single Colorado Bladed spinner baits around rocky areas in the mouths of the creeks to catch some magnum spotted bass after dark.

Striper fishing has been very good and they still seem to be on the deeper summer pattern for the most part, but there are some indicators that this is already changing with the fall-like conditions. I saw several pods of small stripers come up on the surface this past week, but they were up and down so quickly that I could not get a lure to them in time. From what I saw on the surface on my fish finder, they were chasing bluebacks out from the depths where the majority of these fast-moving bait fish are still residing.

The down line bite has been good to very good at times. Use a long fluorocarbon leader, a heavy weight to sink your baits quickly and the liveliest herring available.

I can’t stress enough the importance of keeping bait lively because the native bluebacks are healthy, so your store-bought bait needs to be too. Finding the proper recipe of bait tank additives and ice is an art that requires experience. Check in with your local tackle shop and seek advice if you are just getting into fishing or if your bait is getting stressed before your day is through.

Flat lined herring may also start to work as the water temperatures drop closer to 80 degrees and cooler.

You may do well to try a flat line with a 1/4-ounce split shot set about 3 feet above your bait, with the boat moving at a very slow pace to get it away from the boat and your sonar ping. I suspect the stripers get accustomed to seeing the same presentation all throughout the summer, so try to show them something different as the seasons change.

Trolling has also remained productive and a good way to find the larger schools that will set up for down line fishing. Keep your options open and change depth and speeds and let the fish strikes dictate the best methods. Use a 1 ounce buck tail yipped with a trailer that mimics bluebacks, or better yet use an actual blueback herring to sweeten your offering. Start out setting your lead core lines to eight colors or 35 feet on your Cannon Down Riggers and adjust up and down as your electronics show the best depth.

Crappie fishing is picking up and they are targeting the small threadfin schools that are moving up into the shallows. Look for crappie around brush in the coves and creeks from 5 to 20 feet. I saw a couple this past week and they were very healthy, which tells me that this action will only get better as fall progresses.

Use light line and small 1/16th-ounce crappie jigs. Mark you brush around docks and in the coves, and either position your boat above the cover or cast you jigs out from the docks, banks or your boat and work them slowly through the brush. You will lose some jigs, but that is part of the deal. Hook crappie minnows, or better yet throw a cast net to catch some of these small shad, then down line them in the same brush piles.

Trout fishing has been very good on the Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam and pretty good up in the mountain Wildlife Management Areas. I like to keep things simple when trout fishing and spin tackle is what works the best for me. A small 1/16th-or-1/8th ounce silver and white Rooster Tail, Silver and Black Count Down Rapala or 2 1/2 Inch Baby BBZ1 are all good choices as these mimic the small thread fin shad. Fly fishing with streamers and insect imitators is working and there are some small hatches happening in the afternoons.

Bank fishing: I personally prefer to bass fish and the bass are starting to move closer to the banks right now. Many of the bass will be smaller, but there are some largemouth moving very close to the shore in the rivers and creeks up lake. Cast a finesse worm on a 1/8th ounce jig head around the bridges, docks and lay down trees and work these lures slowly on the bottom.

Cast small topwater plugs, buzz baits, crank baits or inline spinners to any active fish. Also keep an eye on the threadfin schools and cast your lures to any disturbance you see.

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


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