Lake Lanier is still above full pool at 1,071.3 feet. Lake temperatures are in the mid to lower 60s and the lake is still turning over. Lake Lanier is clear to stained and the Chattahoochee River is stained. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.
Bass fishing has been hit or miss as the lake turns over. Keep an open mind when fishing this time of year and pay attention to what the fish are trying to tell you. The spotted bass are very scattered during the lake turnover and they can be caught deep, shallow and all places in between.
I have been moving around a great deal the past week trying to follow the bass. There are bunches of small baitfish in the backs of the creeks and the bass are mixed in with them. Try downsizing your lures to match these tiny threadfin shad. Rooster Tails, small topwater plugs like Storm Chug Bugs or a SPRO Hydro Pop, or small crank baits will all work if you find a concentration of fish. Most of the time when the bass are eating small baitfish, I use smaller lures to try and match the hatch.
Some days it pays off to switch to larger lures to trigger reaction strikes from these schooling fish. Try up-sizing to a SPRO Dawg 100, a Red Fin worked on the surface or a Bomber Long A, and work this big plug just below the surface to trigger aggressive strikes. If the bass are present but they are not feeding, then switch over to a Zoom Finesse Worm rigged on a jig head or a drop shot rig around docks, rock piles and brush.
There are also some decent schools of bass relating to creek channels. If you locate these fish on your Humminbird Fish Finder, then drop a jigging spoon down and hopping it up and down to trigger these fish into bitting.
Running and gunning the main lake and secondary points and humps continues to be a great way to catch the bigger, more aggressive fish. Sometimes you will need to fish many areas until you finally locate active fish. Once you locate them, you may be able to catch your limit in that one area. On other days it may be one fish here and one fish there. Cast a SPRO BBZ1 Shad swim bait or other moving lures to trigger the aggressive fish into biting. Most of the time, the fish seem to want these swim baits reeled in with a medium to fast steady retrieve. Sometimes bass will hit a swim bait several times before they get the hooks in their mouth.
Don’t try to set the hook until the bass actually loads up on your rod.
Live bait like medium minnows or even a night crawler on a jig head will produce bass around the docks and downed trees. If you are using live minnows, then use a Gamakatsu Circle Hook to make sure that the bass can be caught and released without harm.
Like with the bass, striper fishing has been up and down depending on weather patterns and locations. The stripers are scattered and you can find some decent schools both up and down lake. There seems to be more surface schooling activity down on the main lake below Browns Bridge.
These schooling fish will show up even better when a weather front is blowing through. Cast SPRO Dawgs, Red Fins and Swim Baits to any schooling stripers you see. One of the main mistakes I see anglers making is to keep switching lures after making only a few casts. Diligence pays off so try to take a breath, calm down and make your casts count.
Last week, even though there appeared to be hundreds of stripers boiling on top, we would still have to make about 10-to-15 casts with a SPRO BBZ1 Shad swim bait before hooking a fish.
Some days you will not find stripers on top, and other methods may work better. Trolling either Umbrella Rigs or large SPRO Buck Tails over the main lake points and humps will produce. Once you catch a few while trolling in the same area, it might be a good idea to go back and drop live blueback herring where you have located the school. Use your Humminbird Electronics to determine whether flat lines or down lines will work the best. If the stripers are close to the surface use a flat line and if stripers are down more than 15-feet deep, switch over to a down line.
After dark, target the main lake islands and cast Bomber Long As on the windy sides of the islands for your best success. You may also want to try moving into the creeks and casting Red Fins around any lighted boat docks.
Keith Pace says that crappie fishing remains very productive. If you have a boat, then target the backs of the creeks and up in the rivers. He says fishing seems to be better in areas where the water has a little stain. Troll Crappie Spoons, DeFlys and Crappie Jigs slowly around in the backs of the creeks. Shooting these same jigs up under docks that have brush has also been very productive. Not many reports are coming for crappie after dark.
Trout fishing remains slow. When Lake Lanier turns over, the water in the river has less oxygen and the fishing tends to be tougher. Use live bait where permitted for better action. Try using Berkley Power Bait in these areas that allow live bait. The Power Bait will be brightly colored and it will also put out a scent, which will help the trout to find it. Casting small inline spinners or fly-fishing will also work but fishing may be slow.
Bank fishing options are many this time of year and just about any species can be caught from the banks this month. Crappie fishing from the banks should be very productive if you can find where the fish are feeding. Target the backs of the pockets with small minnows or jigs. Look for docks or lay down trees. If you don’t get a bite within a half hour, try moving around until you locate the active fish.
Eric Aldrich is a part time outdoor writer, bass fisherman and is sponsored by Humminbird, SPRO, Gamakatsu, Tru Tungsten and Hammonds Fishing and Boat Storage. Reports are based on personal experience and permission from a close network of friends. He would love to hear from his readers so please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his Web site at aldrichfishing.com.