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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Shorter daylight hours improve fishing opportunities
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Lake Lanier’s water level has held very steady the past few weeks and is 1,067.43 feet, or 3.57 feet below the normal full pool of 1,071. Lake Lanier’s water is slightly stained on main lake and stained to very stained in the feeder creek arms and rivers.

The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear. Lake temperatures are in the lower 80s to the high 70s up lake. Please check generation schedules at 770-945-1466 before heading out to the river.

Bass: Fishing has improved steadily for the last few weeks but is still just fair to good. Conditions should improve if the daytime temperatures stay mild. That being said, fish also react to the shorter daylight hours no matter what the water temperatures are. I have seen bass in both shallow and deep water these past couple of weeks, and this will probably be the case until after the fall lake turnover.

First thing in the morning and throughout the day, you may find a topwater bite around the creek mouths and main lake over brush piles. Do not expect this action to be strong or to last very long. If it is overcast or windy, that only increases your odds of getting a topwater bite. I have been using three techniques for catching fish on top this week.

The first technique for the early morning topwater bite is to cast a walking lure like a Sarah Spook or Gunfish. Walk these walking baits quickly on the surface. If you get a strike, don’t slow down your lure. Keep it working fast because herring move very quickly when trying to escape. The second method has been to V-Wake a swim bait or Redfin on the surface. The Redfin has worked best when the water surface is calm.

I will switch to a BBZ1 6-Inch floating swim bait when the water has a slight ripple on the surface. The third technique is rather unorthodox and only seems to work when you actually see schooling or breaking fish. Cast a SPRO Little John DD deep diving crank bait to any fish you see. Usually these fish will strike the deep diver in the first ten cranks of the reel.

The theory is that the bass are corralling the bluebacks against the surface and they know the bluebacks will sound and swim deeper to get away. The deep diver mimics this action by creating a splash on the surface, then diving quickly. I don’t know why it has worked so well, but it is probably because no one else does it.

The weapon of choice this week continues to be the drop shot rig. I have been watching the large screen on my Humminbird 1158DI and am seeing more fish moving into the 25-foot range. These fish tend to be smaller keeper bass in the 1.5-2.5 ranges, but there are a few larger bass mixed in with them, too. I am still catching fish in 35-45 feet and they tend to be the bigger fish, but you won’t catch the same number as you will from the shallower brush piles.

The best locations right now are man-made brush piles located at 25-35 feet deep out on main lake humps and points and also next to deeper drop-offs located off the beaten path.

The mouths and on into the creeks have also been great places to check with your electronics. Use traditional 2D to locate the brush and switch over to Down Imaging to locate the fish that are around or in the brush. Down Imaging shows details that traditional 2D mode misses and you can actually see the ovals versus the branchy sonar returns that indicate fish inside the brush.

Rig soft plastics like a Big Bites Shakin’ Squirrel Texas-rigged style when fishing in the brush to prevent them from getting snagged. Hook these same worms with a nose rig when fishing open water or outside the brush where your electronics show fish on the bottom. A nose-hooked worm has better action than Texas-rigging one does. That being said, I fish a Texas rigged drop shot worm about 80 percent of the time because most of the fish I am finding are located in brush this time of year.

Some good catches are coming by using the SPRO Little John DD both for morning schooling fish and when the fish are swimming in water that is 20 feet deep or less. A lot of the brush that is located around 25-30 feet deep tops out around 15-20 feet.

When I fish my milk run I can see the depth of the brush on my Lake Master GPS map. I will stop my Nitro Z8 about 100 yards away and work up to the brush, making repeated casts over and through it. A lot of times this will activate the school and make catching multiple fish from one area possible. When the school activates it may also pull them away from the brush, so that the drop shot will not work. Cranking the brush is a great run and gun power technique, and you can return to previous brush once the bite slowed down and drop shot the same areas that held fish earlier in the day.

There are very few reports about fishing for bass after dark and the lack of boats out fishing past sundown confirms that not many anglers are taking advantage of the night bite. The bass move up shallow after 9 p.m. and can be caught on a variety of lures. That being said, I usually stick with a Citrus colored SPRO Little John DD, or a dark colored black and blue or black and red Little N all night long. Even though the deep-diving crank baits you may use are designed to run 11-20 feet deep, they will still dig up the bottom in 5 feet, too.

A Colorado or Indiana-bladed heavy spinner bait or a large black and blue jog with a thumping trailer like a Rage Lobster Tailor a Big Bites Swimming Mama trailer will also work. Make sure to crank or drag these lures slowly and work them from 5-20 feet around rocky banks on main lake and in the creek mouths. Keep your lure in contact with the bottom during your whole casts. Catching five spotted bass over 3 pounds is pretty common when fishing from 8 p.m. to midnight this week.

Striper fishing has been very good. The down-line bite is on fire and shows no sign of slowing down. The stripers have been concentrated in large schools down below Browns Bridge, especially within sight of Buford Dam.

The can be caught anywhere from the surface on down into 100 feet of water. The majority of fish are schooled up from 35 feet and deeper over a 70-110 foot bottom. The same basics apply to down-line fishing this week.

Keeping herring or shad lively during the summer months is an art form. The proper bait tank, a quality water pump with a an oxygen stone and the proper mixture of salt, bait tank additives and water temperature all play a part in keeping your bait lively, which is a must for catching stripers. Check in with your local tackle store or consider hiring a guide to show you the best setup for your bait tank and also to catch stripers.

There are as many variables on tackle setup as there are anglers. Somemay have alternate ides on what type tackle to use. Here are a few guidelines: Use a medium-weight saltwater fishing rod for down lining stripers.

The medium weight will allow the rod to bend while the fish takes the bait, but also allows enough backbone to fight the fish. Some anglers use spinning equipment while others use bait-casting outfits. This is simply a personal preference, so pick the style that suits you best.

Use a high-quality line of at least 12-pound test for your main line. A lot of guides use monofilament because it is less expensive and most people think it stretches more than other types of line. Some use fluorocarbon and much fewer use braided line.

Contrary to popular belief, fluorocarbon actually stretches more than most monofilament, but it is more sensitive because the density of the line is so close to the density of water. Fluorocarbon also is less visible because it refracts light less than mono. Fluorocarbon is also more abrasion resistant too. Fluorocarbon is a little bit stiffer than monofilament, but this has improved greatly with modern fluorocarbon lines.

The new Sunline P-Ion Assassin line is an example of an easy-to-tie, low-memory line. It just boils down to personal preference, and Monofilament probably wins the popularity contest for striper fishing main lines. For your leader probably 90 percent of anglers agree that fluorocarbon is the best choice.

Use a slightly lighter-weight line for your leader than the main line so if you get snagged you can break your leader and retrieve your weight and all of your main line. The same reasoning goes for when a big fish breaks you off. The shorter length of leader line will allow this fish to swim around without getting tangled in the submerged forests that cover the lake bottoms.

Last but not least are your electronics. You need to have electronics that you are able to understand. The greatest fish finder in the world will not help you if you can’t understand how to use and interpret it. Having GPS is a must for serious anglers, too.

Side Imaging and Down Imaging are also very important for anglers who fish a few days a week. Some of the newer cool features are great things to look into if fishing is your main hobby or where you make your living and your budget allows.

There was once only two brands that most anglers used in fresh water, but that has grown considerably in the past few years. I use Humminbird Electronics simply because they are easy to use and I have had a relationship with this brand for almost 20 years.

Would I consider another brand? Maybe, but for now I am very happy with my own setup and the new Humminbird Onix Electronics look pretty cool.

These deep stripers will bite artificial lures, too. Along with your live baits keep a large spoon and a large SPRO Buck Tail with a trailer like a Hyper Tail or even a live or dead blueback herring. Drop these lures down to below the depth you mark stripers.

Use a medium fast retrieve and bring your lure up through the school of stripers. You will often see the fish zoom up and eat your bait on the screen. If the fish are not following or following and not striking your lures, then vary your retrieves until you get things dialed in.

Crappie: There are still no real reports on the crappie this week. I do know some anglers who have caught them in brush with spot tail minnows while targeting bass.

That should tell us that these same fish can be caught by patient and skilled anglers with small crappie jigs or live crappie minnows or native spot tails on a light down line. After dark, try fishing the bridge pilings under lights and also lighted boat docks with brush located around them. These areas may hold some small numbers of catchable fish.

Trout fishing is good in the mountain streams and below Buford Dam. For fly anglers in the mountains and down below Buford Dam, try a Caddis fly or a Double nymph setup with a wooly bugger at top and any wet fly with a bead head on the bottom. Caddis, buggers and small streamers can all be good choices around Buford Dam tailrace.

For spinning tackle anglers, the old reliable red wiggler of back yard mulch pile worms are hard to beat in waters where live bait is permitted. For artificial lures, try inline spinners or ultra light crank and jerk baits.

Bank Fishing: This week’s bank fishing report is a destination that all anglers and non-anglers should visit along with a fishing report location — the Buford Dam Trout Hatchery. While non-anglers may not be enthused by the prospect of visiting a fish hatchery you can bet they won’t be disappointed after seeing the large facility close to our lake and local community.

The tanks are full of trout that range in size from small minnows on up to broad fish pushing 20 pounds or more. The hatchery is open from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. daily and you can schedule a group tour or get information by calling the hatchery at 770-781-6888.

There are also trails to walk along both inside and outside of the hatchery, and some trails travel all the way to Buford Dam.

Just bring some good walking shoes and be aware you may have to wade some small creeks to get all the way to the dam. You can also fish some of the river behind the hatchery and small areas above or below the hatchery. Be aware that the banks of the river are mostly steep undercuts that allow very limited access to the river.

There are a few steep walking trails with small fishable sections but they can fill up quickly on weekends. If you intend to wade, make sure you know how to swim and also remember that you must wear a USCG approved personal flotation device. This is not only a very good idea, but it is also the law and is strictly enforced. Use a quality set of waders and don’t try to wade in shorts, as the water is around 65 degrees and it will become painfully cold soon after you stand in the river.

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. He would love to hear from our readers, so please email him at or visit his website at or

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