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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Stripers showing signs of activity on top water
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Lake Lanier’s water level is right around 1,067.38 or 3.62 feet below the normal full pool of 1071. The main lake is clear to slightly stained and the creeks and rivers are stained. The lake temperatures range from the high 60’s into the low 70’s. 

The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is slightly stained. Please check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass fishing rates same as last week from good to excellent. We have fished everywhere from up in the rivers and feeder creeks above Gainesville on down to Buford Dam and lots of other areas in between and have been able to coax fish into biting in most areas.

The fall has indeed arrived and there are signs everywhere. No one can deny that the leaves are turning. The colors in the morning sunrise and evening sunset have caused me to miss some meals this week. Because of the cooler air temperatures the surface layer of the water has dipped down into the high 60’s in the morning and the water then slowly rising into the low 70. The fish do not mind one bit!

The junk fishing pattern has remained in place and our heaviest stringers for the past 7 days have regularly surpassed 15 pounds on up to just under a 20 pounds for 5 fish limits. Catching a 10-15-pound limit should be doable just fishing the banks with a Texas rig or shaky head and worm.

Last week, we broke down 4 general types of forage that the bass target in fall. We specifically addressed 1) Gizzard shad and pan fish and 4) Blueback herring. This week let’s talk about the other two patterns 2) Crawfish and 3) Threadfin Shad. While the power fishing pattern with top water lures, swim baits and other lures for the herring and gizzard eaters may be the best way to catch a big stringers spotted bass, slowing down has it’s advantages too. The cool thing about the crawfish and the shad patterns is that they are both are relaxing ways to fish. We all need to slow down some times and take in the views!

Having a 75 MPH bass boat is great but a johnboat with an electric motor or even oars will get you where you need to fish right now. Seek out coves with docks just off the main lake, docks and cover like lay downs or rocks in the creeks and also banks with a variety of structure and cover up in the rivers. Cast Texas or Carolina Rigged worms to the banks around the shadow sides of docks, trees, brush or rocky banks. Small crank baits, spinner baits or small top water plugs in these same areas. These lures will work all day long and bass are crushing to top water lures very shallow.

When fishing a shallower fall and also winter patterns it will help greatly to seek out the “bass highways”. These are simply the old creeks and ditch channels that bass follow when moving in and out of shallow areas. These “paths” offer bass easy ways to access these areas and are they are always great places to target when bass fishing.

All of the patterns mentioned in this and last weeks report have been working very well so pick you preference or try something new and go fishing. Our best power fishing lures have been SPRO Little John DDs, 6-inch slow sink BBZ1 6-inch trout in a blue back herring color or a Zara Super Spook in bone or clear colors. Our best shallow dock patterns have been a 7 inch Big Bites Shakin’ Squirrel rigged on a 1/8 ounces Alien Head or other jig head. Small spinner baits and cranks baits have been very good up shallower. A buzz bait or even a small top water plug like a Zara Puppy or very small Sammy is a great way to catch bass up shallow all day long. 

We expanded our night fishing ventures to other parts of the lake and we have been humbled as some just were not as good as down in the lower lake creek mouths. We will try our pattern again down lake and reports back to our readers.

Striper fishing rates from tough to good depending on many variables. The water temperatures are very consistent from top to bottom and lake turn over is happening in some areas of the lake. When this happens the stripers and other game fish scatter out from shallow to deep. There is no thermocline so stripers are relating specifically to baits fish and they have a lot to choose from.

The main question striper anglers are asking is about the top water activity. In fall Lake Lanier’s striper population goes on the hunt for large schools of blueback herring. The good news is that I am seeing more schools of stripers thrashing on the surface everyday. The size or these schools is increasing, as is the time they remain on the surface.

This is also that time when he anglers go into “combat fishing” mode. This means several boats running after schools of stripers in the same area. It can get VERY crazy so please slow down and be safe, Better yet leave the crowds ad go find your own school of fish and you can have them all to yourself. That is until another “combat” fisher something (I don’t call all of these people anglers) comes along and starts thrashing the water along side of you.

I have three lures for top water fishing for stripers and the first and most productive is not even a top water plug. Tie a SPRO McStick 110 in Spooky Shad or Clear Chartreuse color and sling this lure into the middle of any stripers you see on top then just reel in steady at a medium speed and hold on. This jerk bait closely matches the size and appearance of a blue back and just flat out performs a top water plug for me.

Other lures like a Cordell Redfin or jointed Redfin worked with a slow to medium retrieve is a killer lure for schooling stripers. Top water plugs like a Super Spook or Sammy are great choices. Other subsurface lures like a SPRO Bucktail, an under spin with a Big Bites Jerk Shad, Big Rooster Tail or other lures can work very well!

If the top water action is not happening in your first area make a run and pull a large 2-ounce SPRO Bucktial tipped with a live herring or pull and umbrella rig while you search for striper activity. The stripers you found yesterday may very well have chased the herring 5 miles or more away up or down lake.

All or the other methods like down and flat lining herring and even trout are working well. It just all depends on the stripers you find. They can be deep or shallow so rely on your electronics to show you where the fish are located and the depth at which to fish. If your electronics are nit great then pull two flat lines and two semi flat lines with a half ounce split shot set a foot above the hooks and drift or troll around the creek mouths at less than .5 miles per hour.

There are some little fish being caught after dark on Bombers and McSticks around 3 sisters and Van Pugh.

Crappie fishing is slowly getting better. The same techniques that worked last week are pretty much working this week except that the crappie are a little shallower.

Find brush in 10-20 feet deep down lake and slightly shallower up lake. Work crappie jigs through brush piles near deeper docks. Live minnows on down lines or tipped on your light crappie jigs is a great option.

After dark, head to the bridges with your own floating lights or seek out lighted boat docks after dark. Cast small crappie jigs around the areas where the lights fade away into darkness. Crappie use that light break as cover to ambush native minnows.

Trout fishing is good up in the mountains and OK on the Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam.

What can you say? The colors are turning. The traffic in the mountains is crazy and deer hunting is starting so the mountains will be busy. That being the case you and wear some bright orange and sneek away to your favorite secret stream in the mountains or try the lower ‘hooch and practice your fly-fishing or spin casting.

Bank Fishing: Find a small piece of paradise and go fishing. Farm ponds, local ponds, subdivision ponds and, if you can get permission, golf course ponds can be sleeper places to catch huge bass, crappie, catfish and brim.

My biggest bass came from a pond smaller than an acre across the street. I know who stocked it and I even caught it a year later after it had put on a pound or two. Take a bass rod or spincasting rod with some worms, a beetle spin, rooster tail or other small finesse lures and give it a try. You may catch a fish of a lifetime!

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. I would love to hear from our readers so please email me at or visit my website at or Remember to take a kid fishing!

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