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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Surface action hot early on in the day
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Lake Lanier temperatures are in the mid 80s. The lake level is decent and just 3 feet below full pool at 1,068. Lake Lanier is clear on the main lake and clear to stained in the creeks and the rivers. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass: The recent afternoon rains seem to have helped bass fishing. Rain cools the surface water and also adds oxygen, which in turn helps bass fishing. Look for fish to bite very well right before the afternoon showers appear and they will keep biting well while it rains. Because of the recent rains, the bass are both shallow and deep so several methods will work well.

At last weekend’s BASS Weekend Series, there was one bait that almost all of the top 10 competitors said they used: A Fish Head Spin. This lure was created by local angler Rick Steckleberg and it is a very effective and versatile lure. The Fish Head Spin is a great choice right now for fishing some of the deeper brush piles.

Depending on what type of trailer you choose to add, these lures can mimic native spot tail minnows or blueback herring. A smaller shad-type body will look like the smaller spot tail minnow and larger Super Fluke or Jerk Shad bodies and mimic the larger blueback herring. Cast these lures around brush piles in 15- to 30-feet deep and either let them hit bottom and work over and through the brush, or count it down to the level at which you see the fish on your electronics and swim it through the schools of fish.

I have been catching a large majority of my bass this past week on the old reliable drop shot rig. I use a 5-inch Big Bite Finesse worm with a 3/16 Tungsten Weight on a light 5-pound Sniper Fluorocarbon. The light line enables this finesse rig to sink down the 15- to 30-foot depths at which we are seeing the bass in the brush piles. You can vertically fish over the brush, or I prefer to position my boat a little bit off the cover and cast over it and work the worm through the branches.

When you get a bite, it is important to pull the fish quickly away from the brush. Larger spotted bass pull pretty hard and their first instinct is to dive into the brush and tangle you up, but with practice you can learn to turn the fish around.

There is still some great surface action happening mostly early in the day, but on Lanier the day time topwater activity can happen all day long.

Before moving over the brush, try casting surface plugs like SPRO Dawgs, Super Spooks and Jerk Shads over the cover before moving in to pick it apart with subsurface lures.

A really good choice for catching big spotted bass is swim bait. I like the BBZ1 6-inch slow sing, but other brands like a Sebile Magic Swimmer or a Farley Bait Pro X will work well too.

If the fish are just following your swim bait without committing, try either pausing the lure or jerking it hard to try a reaction bite.

A lot of people are intimidated by swim baits, but they are really effective on Lake Lanier. If you don’t have luck, try changing the retrieve speed, switching colors or even changing lures until you figure out what the bass prefer.

The spot tail minnow bite has been very consistent and it should remain the same for a while. Use grits or bread crumbs and chum up areas around beaches or shallow clay banks to draw these native fish in. Then throw a tight mesh cast net over the area that you have chummed. With a little practice you should be able to catch plenty of spot tails. They are like candy to spotted bass and fishing with them in the right areas will just about guarantee you success. Stop by Hammond’s fishing center to purchase nets and for more information on how to catch and fish with spot tails. A Carolina Rigged plastic worm is a great tool for not only locating but also catching deeper spotted bass.

Stripers: Striper fishing is starting to get very productive. The deep summertime bite is one of the most consistent methods for catching stripers. Summertime used to be one of the worst times to striper fish on Lake Lanier until the blueback herring appeared about 10 years ago. Blueback herring thrive in the deeper cold summer water where the stripers have to stay during the hot summer months providing them with a constant supply of fresh food.

Quality electronics are essential tools for located these deeper fish in summer fish. My 998c unit not only shows the stripers and blueback schools, but it also tells me where the thermocline is located and also the standing timber and creek and river channels where the stripers reside. Keeping your bait lively is one of the main keys to successful deepwater fishing.

Make sure to check in with your local tackle store to get the right set up for keeping your blueback frisky.

The stripers are mostly hanging around 50- to 60-feet deep, but they can move up or down as they follow the blueback herring.

Down lines are your best bet. Make sure to use a heavy weight like a 2-ounce sinker to get your baitfish quickly down through the warmer top layer of water to the cooler depths. Also use a 12-to 14-pound fluorocarbon leader as these stripers can be line shy at times. Target the mouths of the creeks on out into the main lake and look for deeper flats located next to the creek and river channels. If the stripers appear on your graph, but only appear to be window shopping, try the power reeling technique to trigger inactive stripers into striking. Let your bluebacks drop below where you see the stripers on your electronics and then reel them up quickly through the schools to trigger bites.

Fishing below Hydro Glow lights has been working well in the creek mouths after dark and there are not a lot of people out, so you may have the lake to yourself. Watch your graph and fish live bluebacks on a down line slightly shallower than you would during the day.

Crappie fishing has been slow during the day, but anglers are reporting a decent night bite around the bridges and deeper lighted boat docks. Put out a floating light or submerge a Hydro Glow light at around 10-feet deep. The lights will draw in the baitfish and the crappie should follow. Use light line and a light sinker and hook your crappie minnows or spot tails through the lips, and vary your depths until the fish bite then position all of you lines at that same depth.

Trout: The trout fishing has improved in the mountains and the river with the recent rains. In summer and during dry periods the mountain stream flows slow down. Trout prefer running water and the recent rains will really help oxygenate the streams, which make the trout’s metabolism increase. When trout are active they eat more and also chase lures better.

Fishing on the river below Buford Dam is very good first thing in the morning before the summer float traffic starts.

Use a Rooster Tail all day long and reel these inline spinners just fast enough to make the blades spin. This will make active fish strike and will make inactive fish strike out of reflex when these lures infringe on their territory.

Bank Fishing: Last week I talked about carp and this week we are going to mention another bottom feeder that is a little better for eating: Catfish. Lake Lanier has a healthy population of catfish and these whiskered fish are fun to catch and tasty to eat. You can set out multiple lines and do quite well.

The best bite occurs after dark, but they can strike during the day too. Target areas where the creek or river channel runs next to the shore.

Bridges also offer good catfish areas. Use a Carolina rig (a heavy sinker with about a 3-foot leader) and cast these out into the deeper water.

Use live large shiners, cut bait or even chicken livers and make sure to secure your rods well. I also like to chum the area with extra bait to draw the cat fish into where you are 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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