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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Slow days are a learning experience
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Lake temperatures are in the mid to upper 70s. The lake level is 1,064.7 feet and is 6.3 feet below full pool of 1,071 feet. The main lake and creeks are clear with a slight stained color in the pockets and the Chattahoochee River is clear. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass: There is no replacement for time spent on the water, and I had that fact reiterated this past week. Late last week and earlier this week, I had only been able to fish a couple of days.

It can be frustrating to read fishing reports or hear fellow anglers talking about how they are slaying big fish when the bites are few and far between.

No angler that I know goes out saying, ‘I hope I don’t get a lot of bites,’ but slow days can tell us a lot about what the fish are doing. If nothing else, not catching fish teaches us what not to do.

A recent day on Lake Lanier really gave us the information needed to put together a big bag of bass. This, in addition to my friends that are fine with sharing information, makes for a much better report for our readers.

The big spotted bass, and some decent largemouths, are starting to stack up out on main lake points, humps, secondary points and even the creeks and shallow coves. Our best lure this week has been a draw between a SPRO Dawg 125 or a Super Spook, both in chrome and black, or a six-inch BBZ1 slow sink blueback herring-colored swim bait.

The bass are keying in on blueback herring and gizzard shad, and these forage bait fish can be much larger than the lures most anglers use. We have seen bluebacks and gizzard shad this past week that range from three inches to larger than 10 inches. A Super Spook is considered a large lure, but don’t be afraid to use them. We regularly catch bass on lures that are larger than the fish that are striking them.

A lot of the bass are relating to brush piles or other cover in 10 to 25 feet of water. Bass will charge out of the brush to attack a large lure on the surface, but we have also had success by fishing lures around the brush.

A drop shot rigged with a Cane Stick, Shakin’ Squirrel worm or a finesse worm on a 1/8-or 3/16-ounce jig head worked through the brush is an effective way to catch fish. You can also cast a Fish Head Spring or Rooster Tail over the brush to entice suspended fish.

If all else fails there is one method that will almost ensure a productive day: Fishing live bait. Medium minnows work well, but the absolute best bait by far is native spot tail minnows. You will need a fine-mesh cast net and some bread, cracker crumbs or grits to attract them, but Lake Lanier’s spotted bass just love spot tail minnows.

Hook your baitfish through the lips on a drop-shot weight and sink them around brush or rocks and hold on. There have been some good fish biting after dark on crank baits, jigs and spinner baits worked slowly around rock and brush.

Stripers: Striper fishing is good and several patterns are producing. Use large bluebacks on flat lines early in the morning, while casting topwater plugs to any active schooling fish. Run your bluebacks 40 to 100 feet behind the boat on a flat line.

A flat line is simply a line with no weight or float. It just has a hook and bait. The stripers have been attacking these offerings and the strikes have been increasable. During active periods, you may discover that V-Waking a Red Fin or other topwater plug from the front of the boat works so well that you will not have to use live bait.

Cast a SPRO Dawg, Sammy or Jerk Shad around any main lake points or humps in the mouths of the creeks. The topwater action has been best in the mornings, but keep your live bait ready for when the sun comes up.

I have heard reports that trolling umbrella rigs is working well in some areas. During sunny days, down lines may be your best bet. Use a one-ounce sinker with a swivel attached to a 3-foot fluorocarbon leader and position your lines slightly above where you mark fish on your Hummingbird electronics.

Crappie: Crappie fishing is good for anglers adept at finding post-spawn slabs in brush and around docks.

Crappie are relating to the docks that have about 20 feet of water at the ends. Crappie will move up and down in the water column, so keep an open mind and work different depths and let the bites determine the best levels and be prepared for that to change, not only from day to day but even hour to hour.

Keith likes to “shoot” his crappie jigs and Micro Spoons up under the docks with light line. Try tipping your lure with a live crappie minnow for increased success.

Trout on the Chattahoochee: Trout fishing is very good below Buford dam and also in mountain streams. Many of these fish are easy to catch because most have been stocked in the last few months. A live night crawler, where permitted by law, fished on a small hook with a 1/4-ounce split shot attached three feet above the line is a very popular method because it works so well.

Small inline spinners fished above, below and in the middle of the rapids for a quick limit. Small lures like a Yo-Suri Minnow or a Rapala Count Down Minnow worked slowly in the deeper pools will produce some trophy trout.

Bank fishing: Bass fishing from the banks can be very good right now. Fishing from the banks does have its advantages. You don’t have to fill up your boat with $3.50/gallon gas, you can enjoy fishing at your own pace but there is one other distinct advantage that many people don’t consider: Bass swim around and chase after their prey, especially this time of year. When an angler in a boat casts to shore, they can actually pull a school of fish away from the structure with their lures, which can disperse the school.

Anglers who cast lures from the bank actually pull the school back toward the shore. These fish may be grouped together and stay in the same area where they can be caught on subsequent casts. The same lures that are mentioned in the above bass report should work just as well fished from the bank and a topwater plug will rarely get snagged because it stays on the surface.

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 esaldrich or visit his website at

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