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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Summertime fish as active as anglers targeting them
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Lake Lanier’s water level is 1,069.44 or 1.56 feet below a full pool of 1,071. Lake water temperatures are in the mid 80s.

The main lake, creeks and rivers are clear to slightly stained. The boat traffic is heavy in the summer, especially around Independence Day. Please be safe and wear your personal flotation devices.

The Chattahoochee River is clear below Buford Dam. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass: The weather has been hotter than average the past couple of weeks, but it looks like we are trending back to more normal range next week for Independence Day weekend. While boat traffic may increase, the bass fishing in summer remains strong.

You can bet that Lake Lanier’s spotted and largemouth bass population won’t miss any meals during the summer. In fact, during the hotter months, a bass’ metabolism actually speeds up so they require more food.

The spotted bass fishing has remained very consistent and fishing patterns have been very reliable. Start out early and get to your favorite areas at sunrise because the bass have been feeding on the surface first thing in the morning.

Topwater lures like a Zara Spook, Pop Rs and other plugs that produce a commotion on the surface will coax some awesome strikes from bass and stripers alike.

Lake Lanier’s predator fish are used for chasing down 4-6 inch blueback herring, smaller threadfin shad and also the larger gizzard shad on the lakes surface.

These bait fish, as well as an occasional bream or crawfish, comprise the majority of their food sources. Lures that mimic the slender, fast-moving blueback herring are almost a sure bet when fished over brush piles around main lake points and humps.

These lures can work throughout the day, so keep them ready at all times in case a school of bass appears during the day hours.

In between periods of surface activity, your finesse lures like dropshots or shaky head worms will account for a lot of bites when the fish are less active.

My big-screen Humminbird graphs are turned on 100 percent of the time and we regularly pick off suspended fish or bass that appear on the screen. To me ‘video-game fishing’ never gets old. and if you do not have a quality graph you are missing out a lot of catching.

It pays to review a hard-copy Lake Lanier map the night before fishing. This, in addition to having a detailed mapping chip installed on your GPS and Fish Finders, will let you set a plan for the following days trip.

The Lake Master chip in my Humminbird electronics allows anglers the opportunity to highlights specific depths. It also allows anglers to adjust plus or minus, based on high or low lake levels.

In addition, make sure to set a waypoint when you see brush piles or other cover that you find while fishing, so that you can return for years to the same productive areas.

This week brush piles in 15-30 feet of water have been holding a lot of fish. Target brush that is close to deep and shallow water. If you can, find a steep dropoff with brush close to a lake point or hump, then it is almost certain that the bass will stop and hold in these structure as they move shallow to deep in search of their daily meals.

During full moon phases, bream will build their nests in shallow waters toward the back of main-lake pockets and in the creeks just off of the main lake. These bream are a full meal for the prolific largemouth population that has reappeared in recent years.

Try to find the medium-sized bream that make an easy mouthful. You can bet that some quality largemouth bass will be present too. Shallow running square bill crank baits like a Little John or swim baits like SPRO BBZ1 Shad or Huddleston Bluegill will trigger aggressive strikes from largemouth bass more than three pounds.

This is also a great time to fish live spot tail minnows for spotted bass. Visit any local baits store and buy a fine messed net, throw out some grits around any boat ramp or beach areas and load your live well full of spot-tail minnows.

Fish these on a drop shot rig or a down line with a split shot around brush for some almost guaranteed action.

Stripers: We are just now heading into some of the most consistent striper fishing action of the year. Back when I was younger, the hotter months were some of the worst times for catching stripers.

Before the blueback herring arrived in our local waters the stripers were skinny and weak during summer because there was no consistent food source down deep in the colder bottom layers of water.

Now that we have blueback herring, the stripers have a prolific food source that swims along with them down deep, which has been a boon for both the guides and striper anglers alike.

We still have a small window of surface activity early and late in the day, but for the most part fishing down lines baited with blueback herring will be the best course of action until fall.

A down line is basically a Carolina Rig or a big one-ounce sinker strung on your main line and tied to a swivel with a long leader and a hook.

This heavy rig will quickly get your blueback herring down deep below the hot surface layer down into the bottom layer of cold water. You do not want your herring to spend too much time in the hotter upper layers as it can shock their system.

Your electronics, as always, are your eyes under the water. Look for the tell-tale signs of bait clouds with arcs and lines like spaghetti that indicate the large deep schools of stripers below them.

You will want to set your down-lined herring just above the level where you mark stripers.

These fish look up but seldom look down to find the food source. Right now the action has been good because the stripers are just getting set up deep.

As the summer moves on, these fish will get more and more ‘line shy.’ If you encounter a large school that will not bite, try dropping your herring all the way to the bottom then ‘power reel’ your through the school to trigger a reaction strike.

Crappie and Bream: Most of the crappie population is down deep in brush and timber deeper than 25 feet. Like the other predator fish, crappie also feed heavily during the summer months. Many anglers find it hard to catch these tasty critters.

A seasoned angler can work small crappie jigs around brush and load the boat, but your average anglers struggles during the summer. You can use crappie minnows or fresh caught spot tails on light line with a weight to catch crappie and bream along with other predator fish.

Bream are biting well on Lake Lanier, subdivision ponds and even some of the local creeks and rivers.

Bream will bite a variety or live and artificial lures. Small minnows, worms and crickets or crappie style jigs, Rooster Tails, small-crank baits as well as dry flies on a fly rod all work well for bream.

Trout fishing remains great in the streams and rivers. Fly fishing with dry flies in a cadis or black ant pattern has been working well in the dam tailraces this week.

Casting a 1/8 or 1/16-ounce white and silver Rooster Tail on very light four-pound line has also worked in the same tail-race water as these inline spinners mimic the threadfin shad that get washed through the turbines.

Bank Fishing: Fly fishing for pan fish can be extremely easy and productive in ponds, streams and on Lake Lanier right now. Fly fishing is an art form that many anglers want to learn but are intimidated by.

Starting out with a small dry fly on a No. 5 or No. 6 fly rod with floating line and a light tapered leader around bream beads is a great way to break the ice.

You can visit your local tackle store and watch YouTube videos to jump start you into this ultra-cool way of fishing. Bream are an easy fish to fool with a fly and therefore offer anglers a great introduction into the sport of fly fishing.

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 or visit his website at

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