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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Many fishing areas not impacted by government shutdown
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Lake temperatures are in the mid to upper 70s. Lake Lanier’s water level is around 1,071.59 or .59 feet above a full pool of 1,071.

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

I have had several people ask me about the federal park ramp shutdowns. There are many county and private boat ramps open, so you can still easily launch your boat on Lake Lanier. You can search “County Boat Ramps Lanier” on Google or contact local marinas.

Lake Lanier Islands has three boat ramps that are open to the public.

All Georgia State Parks are open, but there are some federal parks that have been effected by the shutdown. It is best to call your specific destination for details, but many areas are open and available. Fall fishing is great in north Georgia.

Bass: fishing has been up and down, but fishing can be exceptional if you are able to find the active schools of spotted bass.

At times, you will witness packs of bass and stripers schooling on the surface.

Other days, the topwater action seems non-existent, but rest assured the bass are feeding heavily below the surface. Running and gunning with power fishing techniques has worked well when the fish are schooling, while finesse fishing has produced better during slower periods.

You need to know the lake well when incorporating run-and-gun power fishing techniques and this knowledge only comes with time spent on the water.

Exploring the areas you will fish with your electronics is essential when planning a productive milk run. Side Imaging technology has really helped anglers because it allows the opportunity to see a much wider area than the older two-dimensional units.

You can find the brush piles, road beds, rocks and drop-offs very quickly, then mark way points on your GPS and return to fish at a later time.

During active feeding times, fish pre-marked locations with topwater plugs, swim baits or other moving lures. Move to the next spot if you don’t get a bite. We usually incorporate both power fishing and slower techniques in prime locations.

When approaching key areas, stop your boat a couple of cast lengths away from the cover and throw topwater plugs, like a Zara Spook, or use larger swim baits, like a six-inch floating SPRO BBZ1 or a Sebile Magic Swimmer, in blueback or shad patterns. Cast over the brush piles or other cover that you have marked previously on your GPS.

If these moving lures fail to trigger the schools into striking, then move in over the brush or cover and dissect them with a Shakin’ Squirrel or finesse worm on a drop shot rig or a 1/two-ounce Jig and Craw trailer.

I always dip my soft plastics in a chartreuse dye, like JJ’s Magic. You can work your soft plastic lures directly over the cover while watching the action on your fish finders, or you can stay away and cast to the prime areas.

Other patterns are also working well.

Some anglers are starting their days in shallow waters, in the backs of the creeks or in the rivers, casting buzz baits to the shore for largemouth bass. Spotted bass will also strike these shallow offerings and this action can work all day long.

You can also cast Texas or Carolina Rigged worms and lizards around the banks and docks in the creeks. The deeper docks out toward the main lake are also holding some fish. Cast or skip jig head worms around these docks and work them slowly on the bottom.

Crank baits and large spinner baits will produce very well after dark. Target rocky points and banks in the mouths of the creeks or pick apart shallow brush piles around docks with a black jig and pig. Always use a rattle in your jig after dark.

Stripers: The stripers are schooling on Lake Lanier. This action can appear and disappear quickly. The ends of long points and shallow humps are both up and down the lake and can hold some good action. The striped bass that are schooling are moving around quickly as they chase the fast-moving blueback herring.

When approaching points and humps, cast a Red Fin or Super Spook in chrome or natural colors and work these lures with a steady retrieve. If a fish strikes your lure but does not hook up, speed up the retrieve and they will often come back and strike again.

Many anglers make the mistake of slowing or stopping a topwater plug when a fish strikes, but keep the lure moving until you feel weight on your line, then set the hook. Herring move fast when attacked so you should follow suit with your topwater offerings.

When you encounter schooling fish, take your time and cast into the school. I have had almost 100 percent hookups by throwing a jerk bait, like a McStick 110 or a smaller Bomber, to these surfacing fish. A SPRO buck tail is an excellent choice because you can cast them farther than most topwater or subsurface plugs.

Getting a lure into the schooling fish is the key to hooking and landing one of these hard fighting fish.

There are still some fish below the surface that will hit down-lined blueback herring. These fish are relating to the herring schools that are down around 15-30 feet. Keep a herring on a flat line, no matter whether you are casting plugs or running down lines.

Trolling umbrella rigs or lead core is usually a good pattern while searching for the schools of fish on the surface.

The reports state that this action has been a little slow this week. The night time Bomber bite is right around the corner, so we just need to wait for some cooler nights.

Crappie fishing is good and the crappie are moving a little shallower as water temperatures drop. Shooting docks with small crappie jigs has been working well. The older docks that have the outdated foam floats can be especially good because beavers can carve out a hutch and drag limbs around them.

These areas are crappie magnets and will often hold large schools of crappie. Submerged brush in the creeks both around and away from docks, from 7-20 feet, are holding some slabs and you can catch them on jigs and downlined minnows. There are also some fish biting after dark around the upper and lower lake bridges in the creeks.

Shad are the key, so when you find the bait, the crappie will be close by.

Trout: The mountain state parks are open and trout fishing has been great. Check first before heading out to the national parks or the Chattahoochee below the Buford Dam, since some of these areas are closed due to the partial government shutdown.

If you can find open trout waters, the fly-and-spin fishing has been excellent.

Bank fishing with a live earthworm, both with and without a bobber, is a great way to catch a variety of fish. Use as small of a hook as possible with no snap or swivel and cover the entire hook with the worm for your best success.

Many species of fish will eat live earthworms, so pick the size of hook according to the species you target. Catfish, bass, trout and even carp will eat worms on the bottom, so attach a small lead split shot about a foot above your hook when targeting these species.

Bream, crappie, white bass and other species will strike a worm with no weight, so set a foot or two below a bobber.

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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