Lake temperatures are in the upper 60’s. Lake Lanier’s water level is at 1,061.55 or 9.45 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 hit or miss and conditions seem to change from day to day. Sporadic fishing is very common during the lake turnover but the good news is that the spotted and largemouth bass population is very healthy.
We have caught bass both deep and shallow on a variety of lures this past week. The striper guides are also reporting catching some big spotted bass and even some large mouths on live herring or shad.
Many anglers are familiar with the term junk fishing and this sums up the pattern these past few weeks.
At times, we have had as many as 10 rods on the deck, each with a different lure. We have caught bass in the 30-to 40-foot range on drop shot rigs, jigs and even a Flexit Spoon.
Many of these deeper schools of fish are outside of the brush piles just relating to schools of shad or blueback herring. If I had not seen these fish on my Humminbird 858c bow unit, then we never have would know they were even there. Some of the bass are also suspended over deeper water.
These suspended bass can be hard to catch but you can try swimming a drop shot rigged plastic through the schools to trigger bites from these finicky fish.
Usually if the bass are suspended, I just move on.
When the bass have been active, we have found that they will aggressively strike swim baits and topwater plugs. Always cast a surface lure over suspended brush piles before moving in to work soft plastics.
Bass will often suspend over and around brush waiting for a school of blueback herring to swim by and your swim baits or topwater offerings can trigger these fish into feeding.
My best lure for suspended bass has been a McStick 110. Also keep an eye out for bass feeding on the surface far away from any brush.
These bass are roaming around feeding on blueback herring. We have also caught some big spotted bass mixed in with the stripers this week.
There have also been some bass very shallow, so beating the banks in the creeks can be a productive way to fish.
I try to stay away from the banks most of the year but this past week we have caught some nice largemouth and even some magnum spotted bass on buzz baits and small topwater plugs in the mornings.
After the sun rises, switch over to a 1/2-ounce Jig in green or brown colors and use a Rojas Fighting Frog as a trailer to make your jig really look like a crayfish. I like to dip the tips of my jig trailers in red JJs Magic because crayfish on Lake Lanier have reddish colored claws in the fall.
Cast your jigs to any bank cover like stumps or lay down trees, and crawl them over the object. Let the jig pause before you start dragging it again. These same jigs will work great on deeper rocky banks all winter long for spotted bass. Just fish them a lot deeper.
Stripers: The striper fishing has also been on and off this week. The schooling action has been red hot at times and almost nonexistent at other times. The lake turnover really changes the way that you should target these fast moving fish.
Your electronics are really key tools when the fish are scattered.
Look for the baitfish schools, and the stripers should be close by. The creek mouths on back into the creeks down lake and the rivers up lake have all been good places to fish.
Fishing live bait and also topwater plugs have been the best producers this week.
Use larger live bait like trout, blueback herring and even gizzard shad on flat lines for some of you better bites.
The flat lines have been out producing the down lines but keep a down line rigged, just in case you see fish that are deeper on your fish finders. Fish can be found at any depth during the lake turnover, so keep an open mind.
We have witnessed some pretty big schools of stripers thrashing the surface in the creek mouths, especially in the late afternoon in the lower lake creek mouths. This action can appear almost anywhere at any time of the day so keep a Red Fin, SPRO Bucktail or a Super Spook ready at all times.
We have played around with these surface fish and there have been very few other boats around during the week. I have been casting 1/2-ounce SPRO Bucktails, while some of my fishing partners have been casting topwater plugs and the buck tails have been out producing the topwater plugs 2 to 1.
The stripers have been hitting Bomber Long A’s, Red Fins and SPRO McSticks at night.
Target areas where you found the stripers during the day.
Also the main lake islands have been reliable areas to catch stripers in past years and we have been catching fish there his year, too.
Crappie fishing has been good as long as you can find a concentration of these great eating pan fish.
The crappie have been located in tight schools in the creeks and rivers. Target brush or docks with brush close to the creek channels. When you catch one there should be many more in the area.
Use a mall crappie minnow below a bobber, shoot jigs under docks or try trolling in the same areas.
Trout fishing has been slow but you can still catch them. The leaves are beautiful but traffic in the mountains has been pretty heavy.
You can escape the crowds by getting off the main roads and fishing in one of the many Wildlife Management Areas that allow year round fishing. Check local regulations first.
Fly fishing is an art and it really takes some practice but it will pay off in years to come. Dry flies in the afternoons have been working both in the mountains and down on the Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam.
Live red wigglers on a bottom rig — pitch a 1/4-ounce split shot two feet above your hook — have been producing some nice trout but make sure live bait fishing is allowed in the area you fish.
An inline spinner in bright colors has been working for spin fishing.
Bank fishing: The stripers are moving around and this means bank anglers may have almost as good of a chance to catch them as boater do. Because stripers pull so hard he first thing a bank anglers needs is to make sure their rods are secured.
You can make some cheap but effective rod holders out of PVC. Try to match the size of the PVC to the handles of your fishing rods.
Then cut one end at an angle to create a point so you can pound this end into the clay banks. Pound them down at least one foot or more. Live or cut shad is one of the best baits to use. If the wind is directly at your back, you can feed a live shad under a balloon but most anglers use a bottom or Carolina rig and cast them out as far as possible. Fish banks that have deep water drop offs close by.
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.