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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Majority of stripers located well below thermocline
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Water Conditions: Lake Lanier’s level has fallen slightly and is 1,065.20, or 5.80 feet below the normal full pool of 1,071. Lake surface temperatures are in the mid 80s.

The main lake and creeks mouths are clear-to-slightly stained. The creeks and rivers are clear-to-stained. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river by calling 770-945-1466.

Bass fishing: School is starting, which means less crowds during the week and weekends on Lake Lanier.

But something subtler is happening on our local waters. The longest day of 2017 was June 21, and since that time daylight hours have shortened. Whether we humans notice or not, you can bet the fish notice the subtle approach of season changes.

The summer doldrums have started, and fishing has changed. For the dedicated drop-shot angler, this means great fishing. The spotted bass are either suspending or holding tight to brush and isolated timber at 20-to-40-feet deep.

Rig a Big Bites Baits Shakin’ Squirrels, Cane Stick or a Lanier Baits Fruity Worm on a drop-shot rig with either a -to-¼-ounce drop-shot weight. Use 7-pound Sunline Sniper Fluorocarbons to dissect these deeper honey holes and detect the light bites.

Fishing below the boat while using your electronics is a great way to catch big numbers in August. Set your Humminbird Electronics to traditional 2D or use a split screen of 2D and Down Imaging to differentiate between brush and fish. Use a drop shot, NEKO rig or other finesse methods.

Fish will appear on the screen as arcs, lines or “sketti,” as we refer to them when fish are schooled up. Drop your lure straight down and watch what happens on the screen. You will often see the whole school diving to intercept your bait on the fall or to trap it against the bottom.

If you prefer to power-fish and you love that top water bite, it is available but will probably take a little more hunting and moving around this week. Cast a top-water plug like a Spook, Chug Bug or Sammy over the deeper brush or whenever you see fish surfacing. I received a couple of Tin Farley Pro X Swim Baits and had very good results v-waking one of these herring style swim baits over brush.

Other less conventional methods may also yield ether nothing or great results. Swim a Suicide Shad on a ½-ounce SPRO Bucktail over and through the brush and timber. This is a great lure to probe the deeper isolated timber.

Work the same style swimbait on an underspin or Scrounger Head. Lures like a deep diving crank bait or spinner bait slow rolled around deeper brush and rocks may produce a trophy fish in the later summertime. Try these lame lures after dark to catch bigger fish.

One last method deserves mention. Spot tail minnows are like candy to spotted bass, and you can chum these native bait fish up with grits around beaches and boat ramps. Use a small mesh cast net like you see in your local tackle dealers or come see me at the West Marine in Buford and I will set you up.

You can easily catch and keep these minnows alive. Use a drop-shot rig or light flatline and hook your minnows through the lips. You will catch bass, stripers, catfish and just about anything that swims.

Striper fishing is very good as long as you can find the large schools located 20 feet or deeper. My Humminbird Electronics serve me well — when I don’t see fish, I don’t drop my lines.

If the screen is loaded, then you know you have found the massive schools of stripers and will be able to get them to bite as long as you’re prepared. Drop a Ben Parker or smaller Lake Fork Flutter Spoon, or try a large 2-ounce SPRO Buck Tail with a Suicide Shad trailer through the schools.

Power reel these lures for some arm-breaking strikes. This fishing is incredible when you’re over active fish, but it doesn’t happen every day.

The majority of stripers are hanging out well below the thermocline at 27 feet deep. Stripers and herring like the colder lower layer of water, and that is where you will catch 90 percent of your fish in summer. The oxygen levels are better, water temperatures are much more comfortable and the herring are abundant.

It often pays to troll around while looking for fish, and trolling is working so well that it may pay to do it all day long.

Use Captain Mack’s Umbrella Rigs with 3 ¼-ounce SPRO Bucktails in white, white/pink or chartreuse, and add a Suicide Shad or a live blue back herring on your buck tails.

Use seven-to-nine colors of lead core, or set your down riggers at 20-to-30 feet so that your umbrella rigs run in the thermocline range. The stripers will come out of deeper water to attack you lures.

Live-bait fishing remains very good when you’re able to locate deeper schools of stripers. Keep the proper amount of ice and salt in your bait tank and replace your baits every five-to-10 minutes. Use a heavy 2-to-3-ounce sinker to quickly get through the warm surface layer of water.

Rig your down line with a long leader of fluorocarbon that you can get away with (6-to-12 feet of leader is common).

Make sure you fish your down lines in or just above the level where you mark fish. When you get ready to replace a herring, don’t hesitate to drop your bait and sinker to the bottom then power reel it through the schools to trigger an awesome strike.

There have been some smaller stripers up around Hydro Glow Dock lights, and you can attract your own school by setting these lights out around your boat in the creek mouths after dark. Striper will often venture shallower than 30 feet after dark to eat shad, herring and even spot tail minnows.

Crappie fishing had been very slow during daylight hours. The bridges can will hold crappie after dark around the thermocline from 25-to-30 feet deep. Use shad, medium shiners or native spot tail minnows under lights after dark.

Brim fishing is OK during the day and good after dark around dock lights and Hydro Glow lights. Fish Rooster Tails, jigs, crappie minnows, crickets or live worms around docks, shoreline or laydowns.

Trout fishing remains good on the Chattahoochee River and the mountain streams and rivers.

Fly fishing with dry flies early and later day will yield success, so try the best of both worlds and attach a wet fly below your leader with dry fly 1-to-2 feet above it. This covers both subsurface fish and those looking up to the surface. The dry fly also works as a strike indicator for your offerings below.

Cast Rooster Tails, Count Down Rapalas or Pinns Minnows in both the rapids and the deeper pools below them. Fish you lures high in the water column in the rapids, but let them sink deeper and fish the slower in the pools in between the runs.

Bank Fishing: This is a repeat I want to mention as our children get ready to attend school. It is well worth it to visit to the Buford Dam Trout Hatchery. Kids and adults will really enjoy seeing all the trout, and the brood pond has some monsters.

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. He would love to hear from his readers, so please email him at

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