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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Fishing changes, so keep an open mind
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Lake temperatures are in the upper 70s. Lake Lanier’s water level is around 1061.47 or 9.53 feet below a full pool of 1071. The lake is clear and the creeks and rivers are clear in the mouths to very stained in the backs. The Chattahoochee River is clear. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass fishing has been very good one day and good to fair the next. Keep your options open and be prepared to change lures, presentations and locations, and let the fish strikes unlock the secrets to catching.

We have had some incredible fishing one day only to return to these same locations with the same lures to find lukewarm results. The spotted and largemouth bass are on the move, chasing both fast-moving herring and also the slower resident shad. Keep a variety of lures at hand and you may have good results when you keep an open mind. The weather is so nice that just being on the water is a blessing.

There have been some big wolf packs of schooling spotted bass out on main lake, in the pockets off main lake and also back into the creeks and rivers. While most anglers long for this action, it can also be a challenge to stay on and catch these fast-moving fish.

One of the reasons is that the blueback herring move around very quickly and fish can surface, then resurface 1,000 yards away in less than 15 minutes. The good news is that if you can align yourself with one of these massive wolf packs you can go from a zero to a hero angler in just a few casts.

When an active school of fish appears within casting distance on the surface, almost any lure can entice a strike. I keep a virtual smorgasbord of lures on the deck of my Nitro at all times. I can switch up my offerings very quickly and unlock the secrets of what those particular fish prefer at that exact moment.

My main tools this week have been a Zara Spook topwater plug, fast sink BBz1 shads or Sebile swimbaits and a drop shot for the fish that appear directly below the boat on my electronics.

My buddy used to tell me that a fish war may be occurring under our boat even though the water surface is devoid of any visible activity.

Make note of solar and lunar feeding times and water release schedules before heading to the lake. When you get to the lake, also pay attention to other wildlife activity. If the birds are singing, the squirrels are running around or deer roaming the banks, then it is my experience that the fish are probably active, too. 

During active times cast moving lures like topwater plugs, crankbaits, swimbaits or other offerings. I bet you will be pleasantly surprised with the results. Also look for other clues like baitfish skipping on the surface or balls of bait and fish on your fish finders. Paying attention to my Humminbird 858c usually accounts for several extra fish every day I am on the water.

When the activity levels are slow, the birds quit singing and the lake seems calm I often change over to a worm, slow roll spinnerbaits or cast Fish Head Spins through submerged brush rocks or around docks. You may be able to just slow down your lures to catch a few fish. Of course bass fishing is unpredictable and some fish just don’t seem to follow the rules. That is why we call it fishing and not catching.

Stripers: Blueback herring or gizzard shad are great choices on both flat and down lines this week. I have seen some big gizzard shad in the pockets, and these larger shad provide a full mouthful for any sized striper.

Gizzard shad often entice the largest stripers to bites but they can be hard to acquire. Ask your local bait store about cast nets, techniques and locations for netting these larger native gizzard shad. Or do what I usually do: Purchase bluebacks, jumbo shiners or even trout when in season.

The stripers have been deep all summer and they are starting to appear much shallower with the changing weather.

Trolling large SPRO buck tails or umbrellas rigs is still working, and this action often stays in place all through fall and winter. An umbrella rig looks exactly like a school of baitfish; these are the predecessors to the now-famous Alabama Rig, so you can’t go wrong with learning the productive technique.

The topwater action is just starting, and a Red Fin v-waked on the surface can be deadly for stripers and bass for the next month or two.

Walking lures and swimbaits are also excellent choices. When stripers are exploding on the surface, the vast majority of anglers throw surface lures, but try a McStick, Bomber Long A or bucktail just below the surface to show the fish something different.

The nighttime Bomber Long A bite usually starts to happen in late September and lasts through early December, so start to test the waters after dark and get a head start on this action. Cast these lure around main lake islands and make sure to use 14- to 20-pound test line and hold on tight to your rod.

Crappie fishing is picking up. Continue to lake rake or spider rig multiple rods and troll midway into the creeks and deep pockets. Areas around docks that have brush and even the bridge pilings are usually great targets. Fishing after dark with lights around the bridges continues to work well and will only get better on into October.

Many people set brush around the bridges. Drop a live minnow down to this brush or work crappie jigs and micro spoons in the same areas.

Trout fishing should pick up with the recent rains. Any minnow-imitating plug or small in-line spinners will work well in all trout waters. I believe a red wiggler on light line with a small Gamakatsu hook is hard to beat after it rains.   

Bank fishing is good and you can use many methods to catch a variety of fish. Live night crawlers on a bottom rig will entice bass, big bream, catfish and even the occasional tasty walleye that are becoming more common.

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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