Water Conditions: Lake Lanier’s water level has dropped below 1,070 feet for the first time in over a year. The water level has dropped to 1,069.81 or .1.19 feet below full pool of 1,071. Water temperatures are creeping up into the mid-80s. Lake Lanier is clear on main lake and clear to slightly stained in the rivers and creeks. The Chattahoochee River is clear below Buford Dam. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.
Bass: Bass fishing has been hit and miss as we finally approach the dogs days of summer. That being said, we are a little late on the calendar for the hot weather and some bass seem to be locked into an early summer pattern.
Start your day out fishing for largemouth bass in the morning with a buzz bait fished shallow midway on back into the pockets and in the back of the creeks. This action seems to be best early, then again at dusk. Beat the banks and concentrate on any cover like lay downs, brush, stumps and shallow docks.
You can also catch largemouth bass during the day by using a deep diving crank bait Like a Mann’s 20 plus or a SPRO Little John DD. A Carolina rigged soft plastic like a Senko or a Big Bites Flying Squirrel is also a good option. Some of the biggest largemouth I have caught in summer time seem to strike during the day. It almost seems like they have figured out when to feed to avoid anglers and smaller bass.
You can also catch spotted bass early at day break with a variety of lures too. Cast a large top water plug over the brush piles and around rocky banks near deep water. There are still a few bass that are also hitting top water lures in the day time. Catching spotted bass on surface plugs often just happens when the opportunity presents itself. Keep a top of the plug on deck at all times and be prepared to fire one off when a group of bass appear.
Drop shot fishing has come much more into play this week as the bass settle into their summer pattern. Fish the deeper brush and, as mentioned above, keep a drop shot ready, too. I love to catch fish by video game fishing with my Hummingbird units as we approach brush piles or humps, long points or steep rocky bluff walls. Pay close attention to your electronics as they often show suspended spotted bass at around 15 to 25 feet down in the middle of the water column.
My drop shot rig consists of a quarter-ounce tungsten skinny weight with a small Gamakatsu hook and a big bites shaking squirrel or 5 inch Canes stick on the hook. Use a long leader of fluorocarbon tied to a SPRO swivel tied to your main line top. I use fire line Sunline SX 2 12 pound test braid.
When spotted bass are suspended and you see them on your Humminbird depth finder, two methods can trigger these lethargic fish into biting. First, try dropping your drop shot or shaky head down quickly through the school. If the bass rise up or swim down after it then you should be able to trigger a reaction bite. When the bass don’t react use a drop shot rigged worm and jiggle it right in their face. Sometimes these bass just don’t bite, but there are always active fish feeding somewhere on Lanier.
Stripers: The striper fishing has been good for anglers that can find and locate these fish with their electronics. The stripers are deep, down below the thermocline in the cooler, deeper water. The blue back herring also stay deep for the most part which provides the stripers with a constant source of food. Keep in mind when fishing for stripers that these hard fighting fish move around a lot. These movements are triggered by the blue back herring and where the herring schools are located, the stripers are not far behind. Stripers can move several miles in any given day easily, so if you find them in one area don’t bet that they will be there the next day. That being said, the best areas will replenish throughout the day. It is all a timing and luck deal.
Use your hummingbird electronics to locate set your Side Imaging and run a path until you locate schools of herring and the small or medium-sized oval dots with shadows that indicate the stripers are feeding below. The stripers right now are starting to go really deep and it is not impossible to catch fish from water as deep as 90 feet deep. The majority of stripers are in that 40 to 60 foot range. Some of these fish are relating to flat areas that are devoid of timber while others are hanging around interspersed with the flooded trees.
This time of the year, it is more important than ever to keep lively herring and use a rig that will drop them down quickly through the warmer water layers on down below the thermocline where the water is much cooler. Use a 2 or 3 ounce lead sinker and tied above you swivel with a fluorocarbon leader. The down line rig is almost the same set up as a bass anglers Carolina Rig.
The main difference is that most knowledgeable striper anglers use a very long fluorocarbon leader. While you could almost never cast an 8 to 12 foot leader anglers that target these deep fish are not too worried because they are fishing directly below the boat. Let your down line drop to just at the level where you mark fish. If you have a quality depth finder, you should easily be able to see your rig on the screen. If the stripers are present, but only “window shopping,” then try power reeling by dropping the rig through the school and reeling it back up quickly to trigger a bite.
Trolling with lead core line and a big buck tail jig is a time-tested produce on Lake Lanier. I can remember fishing for hot weather stripers this way back in the 1980’s and it is a method that still catches the stripers to this day.
The main difference is that the summer time stripers back in the 80’s would be skinny because there was not a lot of forage for them back then, but the stripers you catch now are healthy and well feed on blue back herring.
If you look on YouTube and search for “Lanier Trolling Stripers SPRO BBZ1” you will see some cool videos of anglers fishing with swim baits by casting and trolling with Cannon Down Riggers. The Internet holds a wealth of fishing information that we never had back in my younger years. Anglers can search online and immediately learn secrets that people 20 years ago had to learn through trial and error. Between fish finders with Side Imaging and the Internet, there are very few secrets anymore.
Crappie: I fished a few years ago with my friend Keith Pace. He no longer lives in Georgia, but he taught me that you could catch crappie in the summer time. He said he knew where a little brush pile that held crappie was right around the corner. He had a little ultra light spinning out fit and I had a medium action spinning rod with 5 pound Sniper Fluorocarbon so I figured I was prepared. Keith made his own crappie jigs and told me which one was best then he proceeded to put a whooping on me. On a 90 degree day he caught 10 crappie to everyone one I caught and he filled his 30 fish limit out in under 2 hours from the same area. He was fishing very slow and deep (the brush pile was located from 25 to 30 feet) and picking apart the brush pile as well as the fish. The lesson here is that some anglers can flat out catch fish while others may struggle. The good news is that we can always improve our knowledge of fishing.
For anglers like me, the bridge and lighted boat dock bite is producing some decent fish. Cast a one eighth to one sixteenth ounce jig out or down line a lively crappie minnow or catch some spot tails and fish these rigs from ten to twenty feet deep under the lights. You can also make casts to the area right where the lights fade into the dark to catch a variety of species.
Trout: The DNR and other anglers has said it before and they will say it again-Trout fishing is very good right now. I walked down to the river below Buford Dam the other day and caught a limit of rainbow trout with a bonus brown trout in under a half hour. Use a light action spinning rod with a one eighth ounce Rooster Tails or a Countdown Rapala and cast these lures to the pools directly behind where the rapids break up. Fish your lures just fast enough to keep them off the bottom. Fishing these lures slowly can make a huge difference and this method works well in most streams and rivers in North Georgia.
Bank Fishing: OK, the thermometer is approaching the high 90’s and a lot of fish are moving away from the banks into deeper water but there is one critter with gills and fins that loves to stay shallow and they don’t seem too concerned with human activity. In fact, they are drawn to it. It goes by a number of names but most people just call it by name- Carp.
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.