Lake Lanier’s water remains just barely below full pool at 1,070.96. Property owners with docks have had an easy time this year and have not had to move their docks for a long time. Lake temperatures have risen slightly to 85 degrees on the main lake with some cooler water flowing in from the Chestatee and Chattahoochee Rivers. Lake Lanier is clear on the main lake and clear in the rivers and creeks. The Chattahoochee River is clear below Buford Dam. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.
Bass: The bass are on their typical late spring patterns and running and gunning is working best. Bass fishing has been fair to very good, depending on if you can run your areas and collide with some of the shallower active or deeper inactive schools of fish that are biting.
There is also a shallow largemouth bass bite occurring around bream beds in the creek pockets too. You can pick several methods and catch fish right now, but moving around a lot has been the best way to find them this past week.
The term “Runnin’ N’ Gunnin,’” as most anglers pronounce it, simply means moving around a lot trying to find the active fish. The same pattern has been working for us for the past couple of weeks, but the bass have started to move out a little deeper. Running brush piles and rocky humps in 15-30 feet of water is where most of the bigger fish are being caught. Running and gunning is not for everyone. Hitting 20-40 areas in a day can seem a lot like work to some people. Stopping, making 10-15 casts then running to the next stop and repeating this over and over can wear most people out. It is the way to find the biggest schools of bass. For power fishing anglers, this is a labor of love.
To find the schools of big spotted bass, run to your best areas and stop the boat a few cast lengths away from the sunken cover that you have previously marked on your GPS. It seems that I find new brush a lot while running older piles, so I make it a point to mark a new way point on my Humminbird’s Lake Master Map when I find something good.
You can actually see if the brush is fresh on Down Imaging because you can see the leaves on the new brush, whereas the older brush usually just shows the limbs and branches. Side imaging also allows an angler to detect objects under water. You can leave the range set at 50 feet, so that you are covering 100 feet in width.
Then you can see schools of bait and fish plus any rock, brush, timber or even sunken boats. Humminbird’s and other companies’ technology has made it very hard to keep secrets.
When you first stop, make long casts with a topwater plug or swim bait over the sunken brush to pick off any active fish. Then move in and cast an underspin, deep running crankbaits, spinnerbaits or other lures that run just deep over the brush to touch the tops of the branches.
This week, a lot of the bass have been suspending over, or around, brush piles at 10-20 feet deep. A deeper moving lure has been very productive. After fishing for the active bass, move over the brush, drop a jighead worm or a drop-shot rigged with a Shakin’ Squirrel or Robo Worm to any fish you see on the graph. This week, some of our run-and-gun fish are hitting moving lures, but the drop-shot and jig are coming more into play, so make sure to check areas closely and don’t skip this step and run on to new areas.
After sundown, the bass fishing has been a little tougher. The bass that were eating crankbaits will still hit, but there are not as many. The majority of bass seem to have moved out deeper. A Pig N’ Jig or a slow-rolled black spinner bait in more than 20 feet of water has been the best choice.
Stripers: This fishing is really turning on as these large predators have started following the herring off into deeper water. Still, keep a topwater plug tied on. Concentrate more on the deeper fish for your best action. Cover water and watch your electronics for fish just off of the creek channels at 30-50 feet deep over a 50-70-foot bottom. Some anglers are trolling large SPRO bucktails or a BBZ1 Shad Swim bait on a cannon down riggers at around 25-30 feet, while they look for the schools of stripers that are grouped near deeper water.
Stripers are not down as deep as they will be in summer, but they have started to migrate in that direction. Look for the timber flats just off the smaller feeder creeks and ditches. Also pay close attention to the clouds of bait that appear on both standard two-dimensional mode and also on side imaging as these will give away the best areas. The fish will show up as arcs and wavy lines that the guides call “sketti” because they look like a bunch of spaghetti. When you see this, shut off the big motor and drop live herring on a heavy down line and hold on. A lot of these schools have been staying put in an area. If you can see the clouds or bait and the wavy lines, then you can almost be sure that you will catch several before the school moves away from the area.
If you catch a couple of fish and the school seems to disappear, then just crank up the big motor and set your side imaging to a 100-foot setting and watch for bait. Also fish and reset your lines. The stripers are relating to bluebacks out in the creek mouths. They will stay pretty close until all of the bait is eaten or disperses. Lively bait is important so check your baits, especially if the rod tips seem to be quiet. Change out frequently to increase your odds. It is not unusual for a striper guide to use six dozen herring in a single outing.
Crappie fishing is fair to good for anglers that know how to fish the right areas and the best deeper docks with brush. Other anglers, like me, that are not as adept at catching these tasty slabs, may struggle a little because you have to fish relatively deep to get the best bites. The crappie are relating to the brush around docks and are catchable to anglers who are good at shooting jigs under docks. Anglers who have access to deep docks with brush can often just drop a crappie minnow or spot tail minnow. Even a jig tipped with a live bait fish can drop these offerings down and catch crappie that are hanging right where a regular cast doesn’t work.
After dark, switch over to fishing floating lights on the bridges with crappie minnows on a down line or medium minnows, both hooked through the lips on a small Aberdeen style hook or tipped on a jig head.
Trout: This continues to be a great year to fish for trout. With just a little research on the internet, you can determine your favorite way to catch trout, then you can find out where to use that method.
If live bait is your preference, there are many newly released trout in unrestricted waters. You can grab a can of corn, live worms or some Berkley Power Nuggets and go catching. Use light spin casting or spinning outfits with light 4-6 pound line. All you need is light line, a 1/8-1/4 ounce split shot and a small Aberdeen hook and some bait to have a great day of catching.
If you prefer artificial lures, try those same spin casting or spinning outfits. Use a Rooster Tail, Mepps, Rapala Countdown or a Yo Suri Pinns Minnow and you can fish just about anywhere you wish. About the only restrictions will be on private waters. You may be restricted to barbless or the amount of hooks, so always check local regulations.
Fly anglers also have an almost unrestricted choice of waters, other than the above mentioned private property. They can also be restricted to barbless hooks, but other than that they have an abundance of areas to fish. Both dry flies in small nymph and black ant patterns have been working well Take your own selections out and match the hatch.
Bank Fishing: Catfish bite well all day and night on Lake Lanier and other waters. These fish are very catchable from the banks. Catfish often eat by using their sense of smell, but some people are surprised that these same bottom dwellers also hunt and use their sight to capture moving prey. I once caught an eight-pound channel catfish that hit a buzz bait on the surface with reckless abandon. Other anglers regularly catch these hard fishing fish with lures and live minnows.
A variety of bait and lures will work well, but two that seem to stand out are night crawlers and cut bait. You can buy night crawlers at just about any bait shop. You can also catch other worms in your own garden or mulch piles. You can also cut up live shad or use frozen fish like sardines Cut them into pieces the size of a half dollar. Thread these worms or cut bait pieces onto a small-to-medium sized Gamakatsu octopus hook. Use a 1/2-ounce split shot about a foot or two above the hook. Cast them out and secure your rod well into a rod holder. Even a small catfish can pull an unsecured rod into the water.
Fish areas where the channel swing comes in close to the bank. Unlike other fishing, you can stay in an area, while catfish will smell the baits and come find where they are located. Catfish bite best at sundown and into the evening, but they will strike anytime of the day. Grab some worms or cut bait, fishing rods and rod holders and go cat fishing.
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 email@example.com or visit his website at aldrichfishing.com.