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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Lake quiets down after Labor Day
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Lake temperatures are in the low 80s. Lake Lanier’s water level is around 1061.99 or 9.01 feet below full pool.

The lake is clear and the creeks 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: All of the kids have started the new school year and Labor Day weekend has passed, so expect the lake to be a lot quieter now as we head into fall.

The bass fishing has been hit or miss depending on who you speak with. As would make sense, the people fishing the most are doing pretty well, while the weekend warriors may or may not find the best fishing areas quickly.

Getting to fish almost every day is a luxury and blessing that few people can afford, but it does allow for some valuable insights into what the bass are doing.

I believe that bass start to make their seasonal changes based on daylight hours just as much as air or water temperature changes. Think about it.

On Aug. 5, we had 14 hours of daylight. One month later on Sept. 5, we were down to 12.8 hours of daylight. The water temperatures have been pretty steady in the mid to lower 80s for quite a while. A cooler-than-normal August has brought some of Lake Lanier’s forage fish into shallow water.

Meanwhile bass fishing has been steadily changing more toward an early fall pattern. There are some huge schools of threadfin shad that can be seen early and later in the day when the water is calm.

If you watch these schools, you will see them get disrupted by predator fish attacking them from time to time. You may think that fishing around then would be the ticket, but I have spent hours over the years trying to catch bass around this much bait and it can be a true task to just catch one or two.

I have gotten to the point where I will keep a small spoon tied on just in case, but I prefer to just watch and see what these bait and prey fish do to determine how the bass feed and take apart schools of bait.

I have been running my NITRO Z8 hard, going from area to area to find the active fish. We have caught them shallow in the creeks and rivers and have also been getting some good fish down lake pretty deep. Keep your options open as fish this time of year change daily.

We have caught both numbers and good-sized spotted bass in and around brush from 15 to 30 feet deep. Keep a topwater plug or swimbait tied on and work the area over the brush before moving up over your area to finesse fish. We have been doing well on Shakin’ Squirrels on a No. 1 Gamakatsu straight shank hook and a drop-shot rig.

About half of these fish have been caught by “video fishing” or by seeing suspended fish in the middle of the water column on my Humminbird 858c just swimming right below my boat.

It still cracks me up when one of my fishing partners make a big deal out of catching a fish that I see on the screen. Fish finders cost anywhere from a couple hundred dollars up to thousands of dollars.

Years ago I watched a factory rep drop a ball bearing under a transducer and we watched on the screen as it fell straight down to the bottom. He told me I must trust my electronics to be able to use them correctly.

I know mine work. If you don’t find the suspended fish, then move around over the brush piles and also try casting to steep banks and stair step your drop shot, Finesse Jig Head or Texas-rigged worms around steep banks, especially if they have lay down wood or trees.

We have started to catch some big spotted bass and largemouth bass by using a deep-diving plug like a SPRO Little John DD or a Mann’s DD22. These lures run a true 20-feet deep on 10-pound fluorocarbon.

So you can dig from 10 to close to 20 feet on a single cast. Work rock, clay and brush for some of the better fish out there. Using these same crankbaits after dark will produce a true trophy spotted bass.

Striper fishing remains almost the same, but keep your eyes out for some stripers to start busting on the surface soon.

I witnessed what appeared to be some big fish mixed in with some large spotted bass thrashing the surface this week, and I bet they were stripers. Either way, you can bet they will start moving shallower very soon.

My Humminbird still shows some big schools just inside the large creek mouths from 40 to 80 feet deep. A lot of these fish are staying around timber so they can be hard to target.

The stripers seem to be moving around more in the afternoons and you can find them over the creek channels and even down by the dam. Use lively blueback herring or switch things up and try a medium-sized gizzard shad.

Nose hook your gizzards or herring, then drop them down just above the timber, or to the highest area where you mark fish. Vary your depths, and if nothing else works, drop them to the bottom and power reel them back to the surface to entice a reaction bite.

Crappie: I spoke with one angler who has been trolling, and he says that crappie fishing is picking up, but a lot of the crappie are suspended. Troll crappie spoons and jigs at around 13 to 15 feet in the creeks. Also cast or shoot jigs around and under docks that have a lot of brush close by. Two and Four Mile Creeks have been holding some decent slabs.

Trout fishing is best in the mornings both at the damn and in the Wildlife Management Areas. Small Rooster Tails, Rapalas, dry flies and live worms (where permitted) will all produce trout.

Bank fishing: Cast small crankbaits like a Rapala Shad Rap or other small offerings around the deeper banks on Lanier or in local farm and subdivision pounds. Bass, crappie and bream will all eat small crankbaits.

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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