Lake Lanier’s water level has dropped slightly and is 1,068.71 or 2.29 feet below full pool of 1,071.
Water temperature remain in the low 80s. Lake Lanier is clear on main lake and clear to slightly stained in the rivers and creeks. The Chattahoochee River is clear below Buford Dam. Check generation schedules at 770-945-1466 before heading out to the river.
Bass: The sun has started to rise a little later and set a little earlier, the weather has been just a little less muggy and you can bet the fish detect these subtle seasonal changes. Late summer patterns usually mean slow bass fishing, and some anglers think they have to start fishing slow and deep with drop shots or down lined spot tail minnows, which will work OK. Others leave the lake altogether and start preparing for football or hunting season.
Anglers that take that stance are missing out right now because this year has been unusually good for catching spotted bass if you use the right techniques in the right locations. Anglers who have many waypoints, quality electronics like my Humminbird big screen fish finders with Down Imaging and a boat that will cover water will reap the rewards. Even with all these fishing tools, we have slow days, but when you can catch a limit of 3-pound to 5-pound spots, in one out of three trips we tend to forget the tough times.
Running and gunning has been par for the course as we target the offshore humps and the ends of points that contain rock or brush piles. The spotted bass are schooled up thick in areas that are close to both shallow and deeper water. A lot of times these fish are just suspended up over the bottom just waiting for a school of herring, shad or a properly presented shim bait, underspin or top water plug.
Start your day early and move from area to area until you find active fish. Drop your trolling motor about two casts away from the where you have set a waypoint and make a few casts with a SPRO BBZ! 6-Inch slow sink, A Sebile Magic swimmer or a larger top water plug like a Lunker Plunker or Gunfish. The best colors for the lures are natural shad or chrome, and the fishing gets even better as the sun rises high in the sky.
If the fish do not rise up to strike a lure on the surface, then make another cast before you get directly over the brush, rock or timberline that is marked as a waypoint on your GPS. Work a deep diver like a SPRO Little John DD or a Fish Head Spin and you may just trigger an inactive school into biting. If you do activate the school, make repeated casts, as you may often catch several fish from the same area before they get wise and disperse.
When all else fails, move in over the object you have marked as your way point and see if there are any fish present that just are not aggressive. This is when the drop shot (or even live native spot tail minnows for some anglers) can save the day. As weird as it sounds, this angler would rather catch fish while sight fishing with my Humminbird 1158c than the above mentioned power fishing methods that most anglers prefer.
The night fishing has been very good and on week days it may seem that you have the whole lake all to yourself. Fish rocky banks in the mouths of the creeks with a SPRO Fat Papa 70 or a Little John DD and keep these lures in contact with the rocky bottom. You can position your boat on the bank or even fish from the shore, and that will ensure your lure stays in the strike zone as it bangs and deflects off of rock. I think the spotted bass feed on crawfish and bream and this after-dark fishing can be extremely effective.
Stripers: The stripers have been schooled up thickly in the creek mouths, and my electronics show some huge schools grouped up both deep and slightly shallower. If you see “spaghetti” or arcs on conventional mode or bright white specs on Side Imaging or Down Scan, you can bet you are in the right area.
The stripers have been seeing a lot of buck tails and down lined herring, and they seem to get smarter in late summer. While that may be the case, anglers often find these schools in feeding mode, and that is when you can really get bites and load the boat.
In the mouths of the creeks, look for areas where the timber stops and the bottom seems devoid of anything because this is where a lot of the schools seem to group up. Most of the schools are located from 40 to 70 feet down and deeper. The same methods continue to work. Trolling Lead core and fishing live bait are all good choices. Try to switch things up to show these stripers something different. Try using a lure of swim bait on your trolling set up or even on your umbrella rigs. Some west coast anglers will try a spread or Sebile Magic Swimmers or SPRO BBZ1 swim baits and have great success. Just make sure you have a good lure or umbrella retriever because hanging up a rig with three to six lures that cost $20 or more each can get expensive real quickly. That being said, these unorthodox methods can work when all else fails.
Down lining blue back herring is the go-to method for guides because it works. Catching these pressured fish may require that you increase your leader size or decrease the diameter of your leaders. Make sure to use a quality fluorocarbon for your leader. Another method that gets overlooked is jigging spoons, and you can use these spoons at the same time you down line herring. Fish your spoons directly below your transducer and see what trigger the fish into biting. If you jig a spoon in front of a striper long enough, it is liable to strike at it much like we would swat a fly that buzzed around our head.
Crappie: The same methods are working. Some anglers have been fishing after dark up lake with floating or Hydro Glow lights. They have been using a mix of down lined crappie minnows, casting and slowly retrieving Crappie Jigs and also fishing around the edges of the lighted areas with crappie minnows below a bobber. The anglers will catch crappie, bass, stripes, catfish and even some of Lake Lanier’s recently stocked walleye.
Fishing during the day has been tough but not impossible. Work crappie jigs over and through deep brush toward the back of the creeks and in the pockets with ditch channels.
Trout fishing remains very good. Pick your favorite stream or river and use your favorite methods, and you will most likely get a limit. If live bait is permitted, use a small Aberdeen rigged with a live earthworm with light line and a one-quarter-ounce split shot crimped on the line about two feet above the hook. There has been a lot of rain, and that washes earth worms into the streams and rivers so you will be matching the hatch. If your fish in artificial lure only sections just about any inline spinner, small crank bait or dry and wet flies will work well.
Bank Fishing: A lot of fish are moving into the banks right now, but I promised to mention this even every week to draw a good crowd. The good folks at the DNR and some great companies including Humminbird are sponsoring the “Kids” Free Fishing Event on Sept. 27 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. This event will occur at the Lower Pool Park below Buford Dam and is open to all kids age 15 and under. Kids must be accompanied by an adult. Life jackets are highly recommended and are actually required by law for anglers of all ages when wading the river. The Buford Trout Hatchery will stock more than 2,500 rainbow trout at the Dam on the morning of the event. A limited number of fishing poles will be available as loaner poles. Hot dogs, drinks and snacks will be provided at no charge.
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.