Lake temperatures are in the mid to upper 80s and the lake water is clear or slightly stained around the banks on main lake and clear to slightly stained in the creeks and rivers. Lake Lanier water level is at 1066.2, 4.8 feet below the normal level of 1071. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.
Bass fishing has been a little tougher, but they are biting for anglers who can unlock the secrets of these deeper fish. We have been finding our bass on deeper drops and on the deep sides of man-made brush piles from 25 to 45 deep.
I was working a brush pile that comes out to about 35 feet deep last week when I received an important call on my cell phone. The wind blew my Nitro off the spot and as I was hanging up a big spotted bass hit my drop shot rig in almost 60 feet of water even though I only had out about 40 feet of line. This spotted bass was relating to the standing timber, and as I checked my 858c unit, I noticed what appeared to be bass that were suspended in the middle of that timber. These bass can be very hard to see because timber and brush often gives the same returns in 2D mode as the fish that are suspended. I switched over to side imaging mode and I could actually see the bass or little white ovals in the standing timber.
These deeper bass can be hard to target, even with the best electronics. Sometimes suspended bass will not hit lures when they are inactive. Even in the above scenario, I only caught one more bass, but both of the fish were the right kind at more four pounds apiece. These bass will sit and suspend until a major feeding period occurs, at which time they may move closer to the surface to feed. When they are active, moving lures like a topwater plug, deep-diving crankbait, Fish Head Spin or even my old backup the Rooster Tail will all produce if the timing is right.
Because these bass are deep, we have been targeting deeper banks or bluff walls as well as the offshore brush and timber near deeper drop-offs. If bass are inactive, then the drop-shot or other worms will work OK. A 1/4 K-Finesse Jig has been working for me when the bass are on the bluff walls. The spotted bass seem to react best when the jig is being hopped down the drop-offs. Very few people fish a Carolina Rig on Lake Lanier, but in summer this method can work exceptionally well because the large one-ounce sinker that most anglers use will allow anglers to work their worms deep.
The most productive thing for spotted bass has been a native spottail minnow. You can catch a whole bunch by chumming grits around beach or boat ramp areas. Just make sure to be courteous to any swimmers or boaters.
After you have chummed up an area, cast out your fine-meshed cast net and you should have enough for a whole trip. Down-line these spottails around 25 to 30 feet deep around brush piles, or let your boat drift slowly over productive areas.
Stripers: The guides are reporting that striper fishing remains excellent. The guides are catching them out in the creek mouths and over the main lake channel where the water is over 60 feet deep. My buddy says that they are having excellent days and that it will only get better as late August and September approach.
Down-line live bluebacks from 60 to 100 feet deep over a 60- to 120-foot bottom. Some of these schools of fish seem to get wise to our offering, so make sure to use a long 12-pound fluorocarbon leader below your weight and make sure your bluebacks are in or slightly above the schools you mark.
Trolling remains a productive method, or better yet try a live blueback to increase your odds. Run your lead core way out to eight colors or set your down riggers at 35 feet deep. Troll at around 2-3 mph.
As the sun gets higher, pay close attention to your electronics to find the fish from 20 to 50 feet deep. Side imaging will help you to cover a wide area and see fish that you may miss in conventional 2D mode. Continue to use the liveliest bait possible, and make sure your bait tank water is prepared with ice and salt or bait chemicals.
Live herring are working best, but you will want to drop your baits quickly to get them down to the cooler, deeper water to keep them lively. Switch baits frequently because the stripers prefer the livelier bait. Make sure to use a fluorocarbon leader on your down lines to improve your odds. There have been a few reports of anglers catching fish in the creek mouths under Hydro Glow lights after dark.
Crappie fishing remains very slow during the day. I went out with a buddy a while back on a brutally hot summer day and he showed me how to catch crappie in deep brush. He worked his handmade micro spoons and crappie jigs through large brush piles around 25 feet deep.
For better success, try getting out after dark and fish brush that is near a river or creek channel, or try hitting the bridge pilings and set out lights. Down-line live crappie minnows or spottails and vary your depths from 10 to 25 feet deep.
Trout fishing is a great way to spend a hot summer day. The colder water of trout creeks and rivers tends to create a natural air conditioning. The fishing in the mountain streams can still be productive even with the lack of rain.
Cast a 1/16-ounce Rooster Tail around the rapids or let this lure sink down in the deeper pools and retrieve it very slowly, just fast enough to keep the blades spinning.
Trout fishing below Buford Dam remains consistent. Get out at daybreak for your best success.
Bank fishing: Here we go again — carp! I have noticed a lot of carp this past week and I can’t help but remembering my days fishing with my daughter for these “North Georgia Redfish”. That sounds a lot better than telling my bass-fishing buddies that we were actually targeting these so-called junk fish.
Unlike other fish on Lake Lanier, carp stay pretty shallow all summer long and they are drawn to human activity.
You can catch these hard fighters on just about any live bait, but we have great success with a can of corn. Throw ½ a can out as chum, then bait up a small Gamakatsu Bait Hook on light line with a 1/8-ounce split shot about a foot up from your hook. Thread several kernels of corn unto the hook until it is totally covered up. Cast out you line and make real sure you secure your rod. I have seen more that one fishing rod zoom out into the lake when a large carp has hit!
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.