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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Options abound for cool-water fishing
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Lake temperatures are from the upper 60s in the mornings to low 70s in the afternoon. Lake Lanier’s water level is around 1071.21, or .21 feet above a full pool of 1,071 feet. 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 at 770-945-1466.

Bass: The weather is cooling and winter is right around the corner, so the bass are feeding heavily. For some, the weather feels cold but most anglers agree that fall makes for some awesome fishing.

Lake Lanier is still in the process of turnover, so the bass have been scattered but they are biting. Keep a keen eye on the surface of the lake and your electronics for clues to unlock the puzzle of lake turnover. You may see a bait fish skipping on the surface or a ball of bait on your fish finders.

These clues will help you to unlock the riddle of where to find active bass, and can tell you what the fish are doing during the lake turnover on that particular day.

Junk fishing continues to be a good idea. You can usually just drop the trolling motor and beat the banks and catch fish.

Start your day with an arsenal of lures laid out on the deck. Use a buzz bait, jerk bait, swim bait, crank bait and don’t forget the old reliable plastic worm or jig. A jig, drop shot or deep-diving crank bait are working well in the mornings and later in the day on into night, when bass are deeper in the water column.

This report probably sounds like it is covering all of your lures, but the true definition of successful “junk fishing” is when you can catch bass on a variety of techniques and locations.

If I had only two lures to throw in late fall, they would be a SPRO Buck Tail and a Drop Shot rigged with a Big Bites Shakin’ Squirrel dipped in JJ’s Magic.

You can fish a Buck Tail through any depth in the water column, and you can either cast a drop shot rig to the bank and docks and stair-step it into deeper water, or you can drop directly down to catch fish that you are marking on your Humminbird Electronics.

The topwater action is still happening, but there are also some very fat fish that are deep from 30-40 feet in the creek and ditches that are near long points or bluff wall. The dock bite is also good, but target areas that have easy access to both shallow and deep water.

The bass are biting from main lake on all the way into the back of the creeks. Some of the bluebacks on main lake are very large and so are the bellies of the bass that are eating them. If you are able to locate and catch these bass, three to five-pound fish are not uncommon.

To catch the larger main lake spotted bass, we have been using a combinations of topwater plugs and jerk baits during active feeding periods. Swim baits, Red Fins or SPRO McStick Jerk Baits are my go to lures for schooling bass.

Striper fishing remains steady but the patterns can change. Pulling flatlines baited with trout or bluebacks has been a very reliable method to use when you’re in the right areas that are holding stripers.

I have seen some huge schools of fish in the lower-lake creek mouths and also up towards River Forks and Gainesville Marina. There are some on top, but I am seeing many more on my Humminbird Electronics that are just below the surface from 10-30 feet.

Target the areas where the water is clearer and not showing signs of turnover. Main lake seems to be the clearest water right now. The stripers can see lures, trout and herring when they are off the surface. Cast large topwater plugs that imitate herring like a Red Fin, Bomber Long A or McStick 115, and reel them with slow to medium retrieve.

We have picked up several stripers on SPRO McSticks toward the end of the day on past sundown, so the Bomber Bite is happening on main lake islands and also select areas in the creeks.

I don’t usually mention specific areas but creeks that narrow down and then open up into large flats in the backs are prime spots. Target the narrow areas and any steep banks that have channel swings next to them.

If you know the lake, this describes a lot of the creeks, but Flat Creek is textbook and a well-known striper location where they bite well both day and night.

Any long, slender minnow imitating plug will work well because these lures mimic the blueback herring that stripers are feeding on. Red Fins, Jerk Baits and even Big Bite Jerk Shads fished weightless on a No. 5/0 Gamakatsu EWG Hook are all worth a try.

There are still some large schools up on the surface, and on calm days you can see them almost a mile away. When the wind gets up the schools may actually get more active, but it takes a trained eye to see them surfacing amongst the whitecaps.

Cast topwater plugs or subsurface lures into these schools of stripers for some great strikes.

Trolling Umbrella rigs in the creeks and rivers around the shad schools is producing well for anglers who have mastered trolling.

An umbrella rig consists of many Bucktails or other lures on one rig. The multi-lure rigs mimic a school of baitfish and I have witnessed some of the guides who troll that do better than other people with live bait. The ever-popular Alabama Rig that made waves on the fishing scene is based on a smaller cast able version of the umbrella rig.

Crappie fishing remains good and fishing is sometime at its best during the fall, as these tasty pan fish feed up before colder months. Target the backs of the creeks, up in the rivers and also coves off the main lake that have docks, brush and large flats that are separated by ditches.

Trolling with a Lake Rake (or several rods set out in tandem) will work well in the creeks and up in the rivers. Troll Hal Flies and other crappie jigs in flats and ditches. Live crappie minnows are catching some slabs after dark around lighted docks or with floating lights around the bridges.

Trout: The river below Buford Dam is stained due to the fall lake turnover, so fishing has slowed down a little on the Chattahoochee. The good news is that the leaves are changing and the trout fishing is great up in the mountain Wildlife Management Areas.

Live earthworms, where permitted by lay, have been working well on the river and up in the mountain streams. Worms are one of the main meals for fall trout with the recent rains and steady water levels this year.

Bank Fishing: Both bass and brim are biting well on the lake and in local farm ponds. The brim and bass will move shallower after the first few cold weather spells but they will feed heavily when the first cold front comes in. That means this week.

Use small crank baits, in-line spinners and even live night crawlers under a bobber and you should have great success if you are fishing healthy ponds or Lake Lanier.

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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