Lake temperatures are in the mid to lower 80s. The lake level is 1,062.73 feet, 8.27 feet below full pool of 1,071 feet. The main lake is clear and the creeks are clear to stained. The Chattahoochee River is clear. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.
Bass: Largemouth and spotted bass fishing has been good this past week as the lake gets a little less busy with the start of the new school year. Last week’s FLW Cup showed that Lake Lanier is full of surprises as the largemouth bite dominated the top five finishers. When lake levels fell back in 2007 and 2008, a lot of weeds and small trees grew on the exposed shoreline. This growth created ideal habitat for largemouth bass to spawn, and years later we are reaping the benefits. Lanier’s largemouth population is as healthy as many anglers have ever seen, and it shows in many of our local tournament results. If you like to fish shallow, or you prefer to catch the big headed bass, then a trip into the backs of the creeks or far up into the Chestatee or Chattahoochee Rivers may be a good move for you.
While the winner of the 2012 FLW Cup, Jacob Wheeler, ran his boat down the Chattahoochee River to farm some respectable limits of largemouth, you don’t necessarily have to go that far north. I have caught many largemouth bass over 5 pounds in the backs of the creeks both up and down the lake. Largemouth bass will relate to stained water in less than 15 feet deep most of the year and we found several this past week very shallow up around docks, laydowns and brush.
Start your day casting a buzz bait against the banks and stick with it until the bass quit biting. Some days you can stick with this method all day long to catch some of the bigger largemouths shallow. Switch over to a jig n’ pig or Texas rigged worm as conditions dictate.
I prefer to target the spotted bass population that our home waters are famous for. We caught these fish on a wide variety of lures and locations this past week. While many of the pros fished brush piles 20 to 40 feet deep, we found some very nice sized keepers this week shallow roaming the banks. Few anglers consider that the start of the fall migration, which actually starts in late August and this year is no exception.
We caught a lot of our shallow bass on SPRO Fat Johns and Rapala Shad Raps by targeting steeper banks and working from shallow to deep. Shaky head worms rigged with a finesse or Shakin’ Squirrel have also been working well both on the docks and offshore brush piles. Of course, you can never go wrong with the old reliable drop shot in brush and dropoffs without brush out on main and midway back into the creeks from 20 to 40 feet deep.
Keep your options open as the daylight hours grow shorter, because the bass will be in transition this next month. Things will change and the most important tool anglers have is confidence, so fish your strengths.
Stripers: Fishing has been great some days and just good to fair on others. The stripers are still deep relating to the creek and river channels and the deep timber next to these channels. These deep stripers are feed below the blueback herring schools that are bunched up from 30 to 60 feet deep. Watch your graph and look for schools of bait and the wavy lines below them that indicate feeding stripers.
Trolling continues to be both a productive way to find and catch stripers. Use a 1- or 1/2-ounce SPRO buck tail on eight colors of lead core line, or set your down riggers so that they run at 30 to 40 feet deep.
Tip your buck tails with a Hyper Tail or better use a live blue- back to increase sweeten your offerings. I feel that live blueback herring are one of your best trailers you can use because that is what your buck tail jigs mimic.
A lot of the times, trolling can actually be more productive that down lining. The reason is that bluebacks rarely stay put in one location when the stripers are present. Blueback herring can swim several miles per hour, so stripers have become very adept at hunting down these fast moving baitfish.
Once you locate the large schools of deep stripers, then most anglers will drop herring on a down line to just above the schools. Keep your herring lively as this is critical for successful down line fishing. Use a heavy 1-to-2 ounce weight to get your live bait down quickly through the hotter surface layers, down below the thermocline into the colder lower levels of water. If some of your bluebacks die, don’t just throw them out, but instead cut them into pieces and chum the water that you are fishing.
Chumming creates a scent trail that entices the stripers into biting.
When the stripers are present but not biting, remember to try power reeling your bluebacks through the schools to entice a reaction bite. As mentioned above, the stripers are very used to chasing these fast-moving bait fish. Utilize your Side Imaging to find schools of fish that are not directly below the boat. Stripers show up as white arcs or even oval fish shaped images on my Huminbird 998c unit. A lot of these images are almost photo-like and we have even been able to tell what species of fish are in the schools that appear on the screen.
Crappie fishing is still fair, but this fishing will get better any day. A friend of mine caught a nice mess of fish up under lights after dark on the bridge pilings.
He set his lights out and caught some crappie deep, but said that they moved shallower as the night progressed. This may have been because his lights drew the bait closer to the surface but it may also have been because the fish are sensing the shorter days. Many of the bridge pilings have brush set around them and fishing in this submerged brush will produce crappie, both after dark and during the day. Work crappie jigs and Micro spoons slowly through the brush.
Trout fishing has been very good on the Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam and good up in the mountain Wildlife Management Areas. The recent rains have increase oxygen content which helps the trout fishing greatly. Live earthworms (where permitted by law) fished on the bottom are always a good bet, but fly and spin fishing has been productive too.
Bank fishing: Catfish are often overlooked by many anglers on Lanier, but the catfish population is very healthy. Cast live night crawlers, chicken livers or cut bait (pieces of fish) on a bottom rig around channel bends that swing close to the bank. Catfish will move shallow at night, then return to deeper water during the day.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or aldrichfishing.com.