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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Fish shallow as winter approaches
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Lake temperatures are in the upper 50s. The recent rains continue to keep the lake level steady at around 1058.31, which is 12.69 feet below full pool of 1071. Lake Lanier is clear on main lake and stained in the creeks. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is stained. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass fishing remains good and the weeks after Thanksgiving and before Christmas can be some of my favorite times to fish for Lake Lanier’s spotted and largemouth bass. Anglers who put up their fishing gear in exchange for hunting or other activities may be missing out on some of the year’s best opportunities.

The bass are still mostly still shallow and a variety of lures can work. The secondary points and also steeper clay rock and bluff walls that lead into to the ditches and pockets are holding some good fish. We have been doing well beating the banks this week.

Start out fishing the steeper banks with small jigs, finesse worms on a jig head or drop shot rig. Make sure to work any docks that have been moved out with the lower water levels as these can be bass magnets in the right location. Switch over to small crankbaits or try suspending jerkbaits like a SPRO McRip or a Megabass 110 in shad and blueback colors. Some days the bass will prefer a slow or medium-steady retrieve, while on others a jerk-and-pause retrieve will be the better choice.

There have been some bass that are starting to show up in the deeper water, but the shallow bass have been so consistent that we have not really been targeting these deeper fish that much yet. As the winter weather cools, look for the bass to move out a little deeper on bluff walls from 25 to 45 feet deep, but for now, enjoy the easier shallow bites in the coves and secondary points.

The night bite has been a little slower for bass but the ones that do bite after dark are usually good ones. Find rocky points midway back into the creeks and crank a Little John MD or DD through the rocks with slow-and-steady retrieve.

Striper fishing remains good, and many different patterns are working. I have heard of fish being caught shallow in the backs of the creeks and rivers, while other anglers catch fish by trolling umbrella rigs. I even heard a reliable report from a guide who is catching them deep over the main lake timber, so keep an open mind when targeting these hard-fighting game fish.

I have personally witnessed some good schools of stripers shallow in some of the down-lake creeks. These fish seem to be in tune with the smaller threadfin shad and they are going up and down the banks herding these small native baitfish into areas where they can ambush a mouthful or two. I have also seen stripers that are schooling on blueback herring on the surface in the creek mouths.

Over the years I have learned that you can find stripers by using three primary methods. The easiest and most reliable is to watch the aquatic birds. The gulls and loons consistently give away the best fishing locations. I found out years ago when first learning to fish that following the birds is a great way to locate the best areas. After many decades, I continue to really on God’s fish finders to locate bait fish and the predator fish that follow them.

My second and probably most important tools for locating stripers are my electronics. There are many brands and styles of modern electronics and prices start at less than $100 go up from there. Today’s electronics are a far cry from our grandfathers flasher’s. Anglers should research and select sonar and GPS units that fit their personal styles and budgets. You can research by asking friends and other local resources like guides and tackle stores, along with an unlimited amount of internet, news and magazine sources. Whichever electronics you choose, make sure to read the manuals and consider hiring a knowledgeable guide to assist with the initial set-up.

My third, and one of the most overlooked tools anglers neglect to use, are their own personal fishing logs or records from past years. I have the good fortune of being able to write these weekly reports, but even if I did not write for the papers I would recommend keeping these records. I can quickly go back and find similar conditions from previous years to help me to find patterns that may be developing.

The stripers are biting in the rivers, in the creeks and also on main lake, so there are plenty of opportunities available this week for catching line sides. I have not received any reports on the night bite this week, but you can bet someone is catching them after dark.

Crappie are biting well both down lake and in the rivers, and there are some slabs that are shallow and deep. My buddy Keith is shooting jigs and micro spoons under docks in the creeks and rivers above Gainesville Marina to catch some decent crappie for the table. He says that most of the fish are biting in less than 10 feet. He says watch your line closely as the bites are light.

I also spoke with another angler who has caught some crappie in the top of submerged timber down lake in creeks. He was using live crappie minnows and fishing directly below the boat at round 15 feet deep. He is using his electronics to locate the shad schools in the timber.

Trout fishing below Buford Dam in the river is just fair and the bite has been a little slower. Use live earthworms where permitted by law or brighter colored Rapala Countdown or Yo Suri Minnows.

There have not been many reports coming from the year-round streams in the mountains, but recent rains should make for some good water conditions.


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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