Lake Lanier’s water level remains steady at 1,070.75 or .25 below a full pool of 1,071. Lake temperatures remain steady in the mid-80s. Lake Lanier is clear on main lake and clear 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 past week’s cooler than normal temperatures help the bass fishing greatly. Running and gunning paid big dividends to the anglers who stayed with it. The morning bite is good, but the afternoon bite has been off the charts for this time of year.
Lake Lanier is the polar opposite of most lakes in that some of the best topwater happens during the mid-day sunny periods, whereas on other lakes this action is better on cloudy days or at dawn and dusk. The blueback herring are the reason for this awesome daytime action. Bass and stripers will coral the bluebacks and trap them against the surface, where they are most vulnerable. Anglers can exploit this by throwing topwater plugs around or above brush piles, rocky areas, humps and points.
The topwater action is all about timing and anglers may have to visit many areas before they collide with a willing school of bass. That being said, it is well worth the effort. You may stop at 15 areas without a bite only to fish the 16th and catch your limit quickly. In addition, you may also catch some of the biggest spotted bass in the Southeast and go from zero to hero in just 10 casts. Larger lures in silver or natural colors seem to work best as they mimic the bigger herring. Some days they want a perfect sashay action, while on others they seem to prefer these topwater plugs burned across the surface at a very rapid pace. When the bass are aggressive, the strikes can feel like your shoulder is being ripped from its socket!
In addition to the topwater action, it pays to keep a drop shot or jig head worm at the ready for any bass that appear below you on your boat on your electronics. When you see wavy lines or arcs, then drop a lure down to them quickly. The fish often follow it to the bottom, while other times they may either intercept it on the way down or ignore it completely. Use a 1/8-ounce to 1/4-ounce drop shot rig with light Sunline Sx1 Braid rigged with a Gamakatsu Aberdeen or drop shot hook with a Big Bites Shakin’ Squirrel. This will allow you to get your plastic worm to the fish quickly.
There are also some bass being caught with other lures and techniques, so don’t be afraid to use other methods. Cast an underspin over brush on main lake and in the creeks, and fish the deeper docks with jig head worms or crank rock bluffs near the banks. The live spot tail bite is always a very good option. If you drop a spot tail minnow down to the brush and don’t get a bite, then there are probably no fish in the area. Spot tails are like bass candy and will work nine times out of 10.
Stripers: The summer patterns continue to work for catching stripers. Fishing with live blueback herring on a down line with an extra-long leader will be the main way that anglers catch stripers for the rest of the summer. Make sure to purchase lively bluebacks from a reputable tackle store and prepare your water accordingly to keep them lively through the day. The stripers are from 35 to 50 feet deep over timber and flats near where the creek and river channels.
Power reeling is also starting to work well when the stripers are “window shopping” but not eating your baits. This technique triggers a striper’s instinctive nature and can work when plain live herring don’t produce. If you see the tell tail spaghetti that indicates fish on your fish finder but are not getting bites, then allow your 1-2-ounce sinker with a long leader and herring to free spool quickly through the school of fish, then reel it back up quickly. Some days they will strike as your herring drops, but most strikes occur when you reel up. This can work when other lines go unnoticed.
Trolling continues to produce some fish, and it may be the best method when you are not locating fish. It’s a great way to cover water while looking for fish. Use lead core line or a Cannon Down Riggers and vary your retrieve between 1.5 and 3 miles per hour. Tip your jigs with a live blueback herring to sweeten up the presentation.
Crappie fishing is slow during the day except for the technical anglers that are shooting deeper docks with brush. Shoot your jig to the back side of the dock where it’s shady and allow it to pendulum on down into the brush. Remember to be courteous and don’t hit boats or snag your lures on the docks.
There are some fish biting on the bridges after dark, and this is a great way to beat the heat of the day. Some nights you will need to drop a minnow on a down line to the fish, while at more active periods they will rise and hit a minnow below a bobber. Spot tails are a natural prey, but crappie minnows will also work well. Also work a small Hal Fly through the schools of bait that appear around your lights.
Trout fishing remains strong. Pick your favorite streams or river tailrace and go fishing! Do a search on “trout fishing Georgia” and you will find numerous sites that are dedicated to these cold-water predators. Some anglers prefer technical fly fishing, but many trout are caught on a plain old silver and white Rooster Tail. Downsize your line and avoid using extra hardware as trout have great eyesight and will steer clear of anything that looks unnatural.
Bank Fishing: Some anglers are unaware that Lake Lanier has a healthy population of catfish, but there are several different species of them and they get pretty big. You can use just about any live or cut baitfish or try chicken livers or live earth worms on a bottom rig. Catfish feed heavily after dark, and catfishing is a great way to beat the heat in summer. Fish close to deeper banks or channel swings in the creeks and rivers.
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.