Lake temperatures are in the upper 60’s. Lake Lanier’s water level is pretty normal for this time of year and is around 1,062.33, or 8.67 feet below a full pool of 1,071. The main lake is slightly stained and the creeks and rivers are stained. The Chattahoochee River is still stained due to lake turnover.
Bass fishing has been good and there are very few places prettier then Lake Lanier during the peak of fall. The leaves are beautiful and the air temperatures and weather have been mild so grab you kids and go fishing. While bass fishing has been good, you may have to put some effort in to locating active fish because we are in the turnover period.
Lake turnover, or stratification, is still occurring and is a natural process where the warmer surface layers of water mix with the cooler bottom layers in fall. Once complete, the water will be the same temperature from top to bottom. This process will continue for about another month. Many anglers claim that lake turnover ruins fishing, but I definably don’t agree.
We have been consistently catching quality spotted and largemouth bass this past week. Fall is one of my favorite times to run and gun in my Nitro Bass Boat. We continue to work topwater plugs and swim baits in the creek mouths, main lake humps and points, and also around steep rocky bluff walls.
This surface action seems to occur more often in the mornings and later in the day, but it can happen at any time, so make sure you are ready. Keep a rod with a Zara Spook, BBZ1 6-inch slow sink or a Basstrix Paddle Tail Swim Bait tied on, because a big school of bass or stripers can appear at any time.
Your retrieve speed and action are critical when fishing topwater or swim baits. I usually start out by casting over productive areas with sunken brush piles or, better yet, active fish with a slow-to-medium steady. If you see fish following your lures, then experiment with pausing or speeding it up until you get them to commit.
Most strikes occur when your lure changes speeds. Once you figure out what the fish want, then you can duplicate that same retrieve in other areas.
Some days the topwater action is not happening, so you may need to put away the these plugs and pick up a jig n’ pig or a worm instead.
My Humminbird electronics have been showing some good schools of bass that appear like lines or arcs on the screen. These schools of bass are relating to brush piles and we have also seen some good schools around steep bluff walls around 30-feet deep. Use your electronics and drop a finesse worm on a jig head or drop-shot rig. Most of our strikes are occurring on the fall. Other lures like crank baits and spinner baits have been producing bass in windy areas. These same lures have also been producing some of our larger fish after dark. Target rocky banks from the mouths on into the backs of the creeks.
Stripers: Combat fishing is occurring as the striper schools attack blueback herring on the surface during the day all over the lake.
The term combat fishing is a humorous reference to when a bunch of boats chase the same school of stripers on the lake. It can also reference what the stripers are doing as they go to war with the longer blueback herring that scatter across the surface. Please be courteous if you are sharing a school of fish with other boats. If it gets too crowded, consider looking for another school that you may have al to yourself.
This action seems best from Browns Bridge to the Buford Dam, but it can occur almost anywhere. Watch for large surface disturbances that look like bowling balls splashing in the water. This topwater action should only get better as the month progresses. Most anglers cast large topwater plugs like V-Waking a Red Fin or walking a Zara Spook across the surface.
While these lures are very effective and topwater strikes are incredibly fun to watch, I prefer to throw subsurface jerk bait or buck tail and reel it through the commotion.
Use a Bomber Long A, McStick 110 or a SPRO Bucktail in the same areas where you cast your topwater plugs. I feel that we hook almost twice as many stripers using these subsurface lures.
Live bait on flat lines is working in the same areas as the topwater plugs. Hook a live blueback herring trout, gizzard shad or even store bought shiners through the lips with a Gamakatsu live bait hook and drag it behind the boat.
If your Humminbird Fish Finders show the fish and bait are down deeper, switch over to a down line and set it at just above the depth where you see fish on your screen.
The Bomber Long A bite is on and there are only a few boats targeting these after dark predators. Cast Bomber Long As and McStick 110s to any windy banks near Lake Lanier Islands and use a slow-to medium-steady retrieve and make sure you have fresh fishing line of at least 12-pound test or heavier and hold on because the strikes can be ferocious.
Crappie fishing is good and some anglers are loading their coolers right now with these tasty pan fish.
Find areas where brush piles are submerged next to bridge pilings or docks in the pockets off the main lake and back into the creeks. You can troll or lake rake small crappie jigs tipped with live minnows in the shallow colored water in the creeks for some fast action if the crappie schools are present.
Casting live minnows or shooting crappie jigs around docks has been a very productive method this past week. Make sure there are large schools of threadfin shad showing up on your fish finder screen. You can also see these same schools of bait working around on the surface.
Trout fishing is a little slow but they always bite below Buford Dam. Use live earth worms, or corn where permitted by law, or try casting bright colored minnow jerk baits or spinners around rapids or faster moving water. The moving water has a higher oxygen content.
Fly fishing with small nymphs is working fair in the afternoon. Watch for any insect swarms and match the hatch with our flies.
Bank Fishing: Use large store bought shiners or native gizzard shad on a bottom rig. Your bottom rig is basically the same as a Carolina Rig (a large one-ounce lead weight tied to s swivel and a 2-to 3-foot leader. Find the steeper banks where the creek or river channels cuts next to shore and cast these out to catch stripers and catfish. Make sure to secure you rods well.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at aldrichfishing.com.