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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Fishing is hot and cold as temperature drops
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Lake temperatures are right around 60 degrees. The lake level is 1058.40, which is 12.6 feet below full pool of 1071.

Lake Lanier is clear to stained and the Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is stained. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass fishing is great at times and slower at others.

Target the creek mouths midway back in the coves. Follow those "fish highways" or ditches and look for any cover that is located along the way.

There are plenty of active schools, so you can run and gun to find these aggressive fish.

We have caught active schooling bass on topwater plugs, crankbaits and soft jerkbaits. Other lures like Rooster Tails or a Fish Head Spin will work well for these surfacing bass.

Most of these active fish are schooling less than 10 feet below the surface. The spots are eating shad and bluebacks that they trap against the surface.

There are also some less active fish grouped in tight schools out deep. We have found these deeper bass on the bottom in 30 to 50 feet of water. Use your electronics to locate these deep dwellers.

My 858c graph displays bass on the bottom as very subtle arcs, lines or sometimes just small bumps. Often these fish will rise off the bottom to intercept the lure as it drops down.

You can actually see this on your fish finders. This is my favorite video game in the world! Use a jigging spoon or a Big Bite Finesse worm on a Spot Remover Jig head or other sinking lures to entice these bottom dwellers into biting.

The spotted bass are biting very well after the sun goes down and there are very few boats out, so you will have the whole lake to yourself.

After dark, cast deep-diving crankbaits like a Little John DD or even Bomber Long As to the bank. Cast toward any main lake or creek mouth banks that have rocks. Reel these lures back with a slow-and-steady retrieve for great results.

Striper fishing remains very good but you will go through some inactive periods.

We continue to see some very good topwater action from Little River all the way down to Buford Dam. Stripers can appear on the surface anywhere and at any time so keep a topwater plug on deck and ready.

The most consistent schooling action seems to be happening in the mornings and just before sunset. Cast topwater lure of Red Fins, Bombers or McSticks to these surfacing fish.

Soft jerkbaits like a Fluke or Jerk Shad rigged on a 5/0 Gamakatsu EWG Superline hooks will work very well.

I like these superline hooks because they are a little heavier than standard hooks and they allow your soft plastics to sink a little below the surface.

Pull flat- and down-lined bluebacks, minnows, trout and even native gizzard shad behind the boat while you cast for the active surfacing stripers.

When the fish are below the surface, pay close attention to your electronics and set your live baits at the proper depth. Jigging spoons can also entice some good strikes.

Either jig the spoon directly below the boat for the fish that appear on your graph or cast these same spoons to fish that are busting on the surface. A few of the guides have had good luck by pulling umbrella rigs through the schools of stripers.

The night bite is still happening around the main lake islands and down around the dam. Cast Bombers or Red Fins to the shore and reel them back slow and steady. Some anglers without boats are also catching these same fish from the banks.

Crappie are being caught all over the lake and fall is one of the best times to target them.

Run into the creeks and look for areas where the water is slightly stained. You can target the creeks or some of the coves just off the rivers to find the best action.

A lot of the shallow brush piles are out of the water, but other wood or even large submerged stumps can hold schools of crappie.

If you catch one fish, it may be a good idea to stick around that area as there are usually many more in the same area.

If you fish for a while without a bite, it may pay to check some other areas. A lot of the docks are being moved out and they will often hold large schools of crappie.

Long slender coves that have just a single dock or several docks congregated together can be crappie magnets.

Shoot 1/16- to 1/32-ounce crappie jig under these docks and watch your line as these small lures descend. A lot of your bites will occur as the lure falls. Use light two- to six-pound test for your best results. Trolling is also a good bet this time of year.

Live crappie minnows fished under a bobber from the banks can be very productive in the fall. Cast these small live minnows around the bridges and docks. Trolling is also a good bet.

Trout: The river below Buford Dam is starting to clear up from the lake turnover, so fishing below the dam should pick up. Live night crawlers, salmon eggs and even corn will work well in the area above Highway 20 just below the dam.

Below the Highway 20 bridge you can only use artificial lures, so cast Rooster Tails or small BBZ1 Baby Shad in the deeper pools right below the rapids.

The creek in the mountains will have both holdover fish along with some newly stocked trout. Use flies and small lures on very light line for the more cautious holdover fish.

Just about any offering will work on the new uneducated stocked trout as they have never seen a hook before.

Bank fishing: Target the bridges located toward the backs of the creeks to catch a mixed stringer of game fish.

Up-lake creeks like Wahoo and Little River or down-lake creeks like Two Mile, Six Mile and Flowery Branch all have ideal bridges toward the backs. Cast just about any lure or live baits around the bridge pilings for great results.

Crappie, bass, stripers and even the occasional walleye will all relate to the bridges this time of year.

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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