Lake Lanier temperatures are in the lower 70’s. The water level is around 1,071.40 or .4 feet above a full pool of 1,071. The lake is clear and the creeks and rivers are clear to slightly stained. The Chattahoochee River is clear.
Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.
Bass: The air has been brisk in the mornings and on toward sunset. You can’t beat a mild fall day of bass fishing, and the fish seem to like this weather, too.
Several patterns are working so we have been junk fishing, which means keeping multiple rods with different lures on deck and ready.
Some bass are hitting topwater plugs, some are suspended, while others are 15-25 feet down feeding around brush and rock on the bottom. Keep an open mind and move around until you encounter feeding fish.
The reason the bass are so scattered is that lake turnover or stratification process is beginning. This means that the colder bottom layers and the warmer topwater layers of water are approaching the same temperature.
When this happens the layers mix. You can often see and smell the water as it turns a greenish color and small bubbles appear.
I was told by a knowledgeable Department of Natural Resources employee that this process goes on a lot longer than anglers think and it can start in early fall and continue well on into December.
It occurs again in spring.
Start your day by fishing points and humps with a Jig N Pig or a deep running crank bait. Cast a Strike King Pro Model Jig, SPRO Baby DD or Fat Papa Crank Bait to the bank and reel them slowly back to the boat.
Make these lures contact the bottom and reel them slowly through the rock and brush. Many anglers use a jig this way, but are afraid to cast crankbaits with two sets of treble hooks for fear of getting snagged.
I once spoke with an angler who had a box of crank baits, but he said he never caught fish with them. I advised since they didn’t work to try and lose them by fishing through brush and lay downs. He came back later and said they kept getting snagged — in fish’s mouths. He was a hardcore, crank bait enthusiast from that day on.
As the sun goes up, the fish are either roaming around during active feeding periods or settling in around the bottom.
Run and gun brush piles and cast topwater plugs or swim baits over the brush, then move in and drop a jig or drop shot rig down and video fish with your electronics. I love to see the wavy lines that indicate fish on my Humminbird 1158c, then watch my lure fall as a bass comes up to strike it.
We have been out after dark because the bass fishing is very good after the sun goes down. There are almost no other boats after dark and we have had the lake to ourselves. The same crank baits that we have used during the day have worked after dark.
Stripers: The striper fishing is great one day and fair the next. This has been a strange year all around for striper fishing and this may be due to the crazy weather or the above full pool water levels. The majority of fish are in the upper level of the water column. The fall schooling activity that Lake Lanier is famous for is hit and miss, but it has been happening.
The better fishing seems to be happening from Browns Bridge on down to Buford Dam. Areas where the creek channels cut close to the bank or intersect with the river channels seem to be the best areas.
Areas with deep water close to humps, points and islands have been holding large schools of blueback herring and this is what is attracting the stripers.
Start your day well into the creek mouths and pull flat lines with large blueback herring, trout and even gizzard shad while keeping an eye out for schooling fish on the surface. Larger lures like a Red Fin, floating BBZ1 Swim Bait, Super Spook or Sebile Magic Swimmers have all been good choices to cast at stripers.
If you are approaching a good looking point, make some casts with these lures even if you do not actually see stripers on the surface.
The strikes often come out of nowhere and a large striper exploding on your lure will get the heart pumping. When you do see schooling fish in, don’t be afraid to throw a SPRO Bucktail or a jerk bait like a McStick or Bomber Long A. Some of the herring are very large. I have seen some herring more than 10 inches, so don’t be afraid of using a bigger lure or live bait.
Watch your electronics and use them as a guideline for where and how deep you fish. Most of the stripers will be less than 30 feet deep, but there will be exceptions. While flat line and topwater seem to be the predominant patterns keep some weighted down lines ready for when your electronics show deeper fish.
The night time Bomber Bite does not appear to be happening too much, but it is worth a trip out after dark because they should be biting soon. We have been catching some trophy spotted bass on Bombers and McSticks so you won’t go without fish.
Trout: Most parks that were closed during the partial government shutdown have reopened and the recent rains should turn on the trout. Earthworms are excellent bait to use after a rain, as long as where you fish permits live bait.
Use a very small hook with no snaps or swivels and light line with a 1/4-ounce split shot about a foot above your hook and cast it into the deeper pools below the rapids. Other methods like artificial lures on spin tackle or fly fishing will all work well in fall.
Bank Fishing: You can catch stripers from the banks of Lake Lanier and the areas around the dam where the parks have been reopened. Get a minnow bucket and buy a dozen large shiners. Use medium-heavy tackle with at least 12-pound test and use a slip bobber set to 15-feet deep without a sinker.
Make long casts in areas where the wind is at your back so the bobber and shiner will stay off the bank. You can use PVC as an inexpensive rod holder. Stripers, bass and even the occasional walleye will bite on this rig.
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 visit his website at aldrichfishing.com.