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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Patience rewarded for anglers looking for bass, stripers
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Lake Lanier’s water level has dropped a little, and is 1068.21 feet, which is 2.79 feet below a full pool at 1071. There are some short and long-term weather forecasts for more rain showers, which will be welcomed. Lake Lanier’s water is clear to stained on main lake and clear to very stained in the creeks, pockets and rivers. Lake water temperatures are in the mid to upper 80s. The Chattahoochee River is clear. 

Bass fishing rates everywhere from poor to good, depending on whom you speak or fish with. With water temperatures in the high 80s, and the hot air temperatures, many anglers will get on the water at sunrise, then fish until the air temperatures get too warm for them and call it a day by 11 a.m. or noon. Right now, the anglers that hang in with the heat and continue searching for the best fishing can reap tremendous results. There have been some schooling fish during the hottest part of the day.

This may be a good way to describe the fishing this week. Although humans and fish are completely different in makeup and environment, it can help to think of fish like we do people. Picture these two different humans compared to bass.

The Type 1 human gets up early on the hottest days, eats a big breakfast and does their outdoors chores early before the sun gets up. It completes outdoors tasks, so they can stay inside the rest of the day watching TV or working on the computer. It eats snacks or dinner, but only what is easy and available.

The Type 2 Human sleeps late, (because they were up late) and grabs a snack if available. They don’t hang around home much. They plan to go to a beach party all day, and into the night. They may come and go to other activities as they happen. They will eat any food offered at the party and will eat at different times as the opportunity presents itself.

This week, I have seen a lot of fish that are the Type 1 bass. These fish are mostly between 1 and 2.5. These bass will still hit top waters or other moving lures like crank baits early in the day. As the sun gets up, then these fish are moving deeper into cover like brush and steep drops deeper down in the cooler water temperatures. Even though this Type 1 bass is resting, like our human example, it will still eat. Use a drop shot rigged with a Big Bites Shakin’ squirrel or even try casting a Fish Head Spin with a Cane Thumper trailer or a deep diving crank bait like a Little John DD or Manns 20+ to the brush and swim it over and through the brush pile. Deeper bass are very predictable, so if you get a lure in front of their face, they will bite.

There are also plenty of Type 2 bass on Lanier right now too, but you will probably need to work a lot harder to find and stay with these active schooling bass. If you are allowed enough time on the water, you can find the right areas, and once you find one, you will be able to learn and read a school to see where they will surface next.

Many of the most active bass right now may be pelagic in nature. This means that these Type 2 fish move around a lot during the day and night following their prey. The great news is that when you find a school of these more active bass and can cast a lure to them, you will hook up, plus they tend to be bigger fish. In addition, they can school all day long and some of the better schooling is occurring in the afternoon this week. When you find schooling bass, or before you move over a brush pile, make several casts with a Chug Bug, Gun Fish or other top water plug that displaces water, and you will often pull up the biggest fish in the area.

The type of prey these bass feed on has a huge effect on where and how the bass relate to an area. The Type 1 Bass this week are feeding on small brim, threadfin and spot tail minnows, so they tend to roam less in an area. The Type 2 Bass are probably feeding on blue back herring or larger gizzards shad. Herring move very quickly and can move long distances throughout the day.

Type 2 bass that eat herring are harder to pattern. The gizzard shad also move very quickly, but they tend to remain and stay in certain areas so bass eating gizzards will be easier to pattern. Gizzard shad get very large, but a big large mouth bass can easily eat a 2-pound gizzard shad in one bite, so bass that target gizzard shad can become huge.

These Type 2 bass also rest in different areas than the Type 1. A lot of these bigger (Type 2) spotted bass in summer rest in the timberlines or large isolated timber. The magic depth this week is right around 30 feet, or where you mark the thermocline, but bass in the timber can be found 25 to 30 foot deep around timber that is 40 to 100 feet, so targeting them is a challenge. These bass can be targeted with a drop shot dangled in their face, but it will pay off quickly if you work a larger slow sinking swim bait like a BBZ1 8-inch trout around the timber lines. Fishing a larger lure slowly down in the timber tops is a deadly skill that, once learned, can produce some kicker fish.

There are also some good bass being caught on some of the same methods as during the day with the deep diving crank baits working very well. Night fishing is a great way to beat the crowds and heat. Find the main lake and secondary points and humps that have rock or a combination or rock and clay both on main lake and in the creeks and rivers. Cast a SPRO Little John DD in Citrus Shad or large single Colorado Black Spinner Baits and allow these lures to stay in contact the bottom as much as possible. Most strikes will occur while your lure digs into the bottom or right as it losses contact.

Stripers: Once the thermocline gets set up for a few weeks, the deeper summertime striper fishing will get more consistent. My wife says I am starting to sound like an old man because I often talk about “Before the blue backs fishing was tough ... ”

OK, that being said, fishing for stripers on Lanier used to be extremely tough because there was really no consistent food source down below 40 feet, but the blue backs thrive at the same depth as the stripers, so now the hottest months in summer can produce some of the hottest fishing of the year.

Down lining blue back herring has been the most consistent fishing for many anglers this week. You can basically look at the main river channel from Buford Dam way up past Browns Bridge as a starting point of where to start. Also, look closely at the main creek and river channels that feed into main lake. All of these are places where the fish will congregate both in the channel, but mostly of them on the flats specifically where the herring are close by.

You can find these stripers with your electronics. Look around the deep flats timberlines that are located just off the submerged Chattahoochee River Channel, and also the other creek and river channels that feed into the main channel.

Most of the striper schools are at least 35 feet deep on down as deep as 8- feet. Make sure to pay attention to your electronics and key in on both spaghetti and arcs that indicate actual fish and also pay close attention to the clouds of bait that indicate both blue back, which will be deeper and thread fin shad that are shallower.

Just remember the bait basics and your fish finder and proper rod set up and placement will dictate your success. Learn your bait tank set up. You will not catch stripers with dead or dying bait. Lively herring are a must, so buy your herring and bait tank at a reputable dealer. Make sure your aerator pushes the right amount of oxygen into your water. Learn that the salt to ice ratio is one cup of salt for every 10 gallons of water, or follow your instructions on your bait chemicals. Make sure you keep your bait tank cooled to a consistent 55-65 degrees, and use chlorine free ice and water.

On your rods, the first thing is making sure you have a rod holder, and that it is secure. I have seen and also lost my own rods by making a rod holder mistake. Use a strong rod with some give to the tip, but also some backbone on the lower half that will allow for the striper enough give to take the bait, but enough power to drive the hook home. You also need a high capacity reel of 12 to 20 pound mono or fluorocarbon main line tied to a SPRO Swivel and a 1-2 ounce lead weight with a 6 foot long leader of 12 to 14 pound fluorocarbon with a Gamakatsu Octopus Hook. Adjust your drag properly and check that first before you even start fishing.

Keep running your lead core lines with a 2-3 ounce SPRO Buck tails tipped with a live or dead herring, and your umbrella rig to run at around 35-40 feet deep. This is a great search technique that sometimes catches so many fish that anglers just keep trolling and never even set out live bait.

Trout fishing remains pretty good in the North Georgia streams and also Buford Dam on the Chattahoochee Tails Race. The mainstays continue to catch fish, but the methods that anglers have confidence in will work best.
The great thing about Georgia’s trout waters is there are so many variables that allow anglers almost an unlimited lures and fishing techniques to try.

There are areas in North Georgia that the DNR cannot get its stocking trucks to, but that still are great trout waters. Whether you wish to back pack up a mountain to cast a short 4-weight fly rod around dense bank grown laurels to land a small brook trout that has never seen a fly, then there are areas like that in the Cohutta Wilderness and other very beautiful and private Georgia parks.

There are also easy-to-access places when you just want to grab all of your kids and a picnic basket and sit on the shore at Settles Bridge or Buford Dam Lower Pool Park that are available with very little effort

I always say to use a Rooster Tail or Rapala, and these are my go-to baits for the Buford Dam Tail Race. Either those or my No. 6 fly rod with that darn black ant dry fly that works so well. Go trout fishing now, because the water temperature will cool the air around it by 10 degrees.

Bank Fishing: I have had several questions about this, so here is a revisit of the fish I speak about a lot in summer. There is one fish on Lake Lanier that will bite all day long: The North Georgia Redfish, otherwise known as carp. Even with the heat and boat wakes, carp are attracted by human activity. In the marinas, many people feed these bugle mouth critters, and they can get very large. Carp love corn or dough balls.

Rig a medium light rod with 10-pound test. All you need is a small Aberdeen hook and a small sinker to set a foot above it. Hook a dough ball or 3-5 kernels of corn and cast it out and secure your rod. Not many people eat these fish, but when a kid catches one about 5-10 pounds, they will be as happy as if it was a bass.

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. I would love to hear from our readers so please email me at esaldrich@yahoo.com or visit my website at aldrichfishing.com or lakelanierfishing.info. Remember to take a kid fishing!

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