Lake Lanier’s water level dropped slightly and is at 1,067.19, feet, or 3.81 feet below the normal full pool of 1,071.
The lake is less crowded now that the holiday is over and that school is in. The main lake is clear, while the creeks are stained to very stained in the feeder creek arms and rivers from recent rains. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear.
Lake temperatures are in the lower 80’s. Please check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.
Bass: Fishing is fair to good, depending on how you prefer to fish.
Anglers that beat the banks will probably catch a few fish and there are some bigger spotted and largemouth bass around docks and bank cover. Anglers that fish offshore brush should be able to catch at least a limit, as long as they are willing to adapt and figure out the best brush piles and other offshore cover.
It is important to know when to stay and play, and when to leave to find greener pastures.
Anglers that fish offshore should keep three types of lures on deck right now. A topwater lure, a moving subsurface lure and a bottom-bumping, soft-plastic worm or jig.
The spotted bass will be on the surface, suspended in the water column or on the bottom around brush and deeper docks. If you have lures that will cover all three scenarios, you should catch a decent stringer.
For offshore anglers, a good game plan would be to start the day staying just a cast or two off of brush piles located in the 20-30 foot range, and to cast a popping style or walking topwater plug over them. Cast your plug to these piles and use a moderately fast retrieve. If the bass are active in your area, then they will let you know pretty quickly.
Try attaching a Front Runner to increase your odds of catching a bass or even a bonus double on the same cast.
The Front Runner is a little, small shad-type lure that you attach ahead of your plug, which imitates a shad being chased by your lure. Bass will often strike the Front Runner instead of your topwater plug. Bass are greedy and there are no ethics in nature.
It’s just the law of survival, so other bass may chase the one that is hooked. These other bass often strike the other lure, providing you with two fish on one cast.
You can also stay off the same brush and cast a sub surface lure, like a deep diving crankbait, a swim bait or an under-spin lure.
I often cast a topwater plug like a Pop R or Chug Bug first, then try a SPRO Little John DD deep-diving crankbait before moving over the brush and scanning the water below with my Humminbird Electronics.
Bass may be feeding close to the surface, deeper in the water column, or they may be down in the brush, just hanging out in a neutral mood. It pays to check and determine what the fish are doing, so as to develop a gameplan for the other areas you are going to fish.
If I had only one lure to use, it would be the dropshot rig. A drop shot will cover the entire water column, plus it is working right now. The brush piles located near bait in 20-30 feet of water have been the most consist fish producers for a lot of Lake Lanier’s anglers the past few weeks.
For anglers, that prefer to fish the banks, the lures options are wide open. Small or large crank baits, spinner baits, swim baits, topwater lures and worms are all great options this week. Start the days casting a white and Silver Lunker Lure Buzz Bait, rigged with a Big Bites Fighting Frog around any bank cover or docks.
As the sun rises, pick up your medium-weight rods and cast a Shad Rap or small spinnerbait.
Run these on the outsides of floating docks. Skip a Gamakastu Alien head or other jig head with a strait tail worm around or under these same docks. Try to hit the docks that have deep water close by or with man-made brush placed near them. This type of fishing will yield both largemouth and spotted bass.
OK, this may sound like a broken record but the best bite we have encountered the past few weeks continues to be the night bite. Few anglers are out taking advantage of this action. Catching 20 or more bass between sundown and midnight has not been too unusual for two anglers that can find the most productive areas.
Rocky banks around the mouths of the creeks and islands have been paying off with big dividends and above average-sized fish. I am biased to using a SPRO Little John DD or Fat Papa. Other deep diving lures will work well too. Just make sure to wear your Coast Guard approved life vest when running the big motor during the day, especially after dark.
Striper fishing has been very good for anglers that can find the large schools located out in the deep channels and submerged forests on the main lake.
While the fishing is hot for some anglers, others have had some hard times when they are unable to locate the magic area that holds fish. Pay particular attention to the river and creek channels, as well as areas down lake around Buford Dam.
Finding these schools and keeping them a secret can definably be a challenge. Your electronics are key tools for locating the best areas. There are some anglers that use the ‘bent pole’ method, which can equate to some controversy.
I personally witnessed a boat this past week that came from a distance to fish literally within 20 feet of another boat they saw catching fish. All I can say is my father taught me that when a boat is on a spot, then that is theirs, until they leave. We anglers should show better sportsmanship than this.
Continue to use your downlines and use fresh bluebacks.
Drop them down to just above the level where you mark fish on your electronics. You can leave out several lines and also fish a jigging spoon or power reel a live blueback herring from the front of the boat, while you wait for a bite.
If you are really on a good school of fish, you may not have time to fish anything other than down lines as multiple hookups on live bait are not uncommon, if the school is fired up.
We have started to catch some smaller stripers while fishing for bass, which means the fall Bomber A, McStick, or Redfin bite is just around the corner. The first day of fall is Sept. 23. During the fall, anglers on Lake Lanier can have great fishing after dark by casting long jerk baits to the shore.
Now is prime to get out your nighttime lures and replace worn out treble hooks with new ones. Stock hooks are rarely as good as quality hooks like Gamakatsu or other brands you may prefer.
The hook can make the difference between getting a hard hit and hooking a fish and getting it into the boat. Also check out your split rings and update them as needed.
It usually costs less than a dollar to switch out old hardware with new Gamakatsu Hooks and SPRO split rings.
Crappie: We have started to see some crappie around lighted docks in the pockets, as well as the backs of the creeks after dark. Cast small 1/32-1/16th-ounce jigs on light line to these lights and let them fall to the level that you see fish either by eye or on your fish finders.
A lot of the time, you may not see crappie at all. If you see bait, it can pay off to make casts around the lights.
You can set out lights around bridges located in the backs of the creeks up and down the lake right now. The upper lake creeks tend to turn on quicker than down the lake. Pick the best areas, and get out and fish them with jogs or live minnows. This action will get much better as water temperatures drop into the 70s.
Target deeper docks with brush in the pockets and creeks during the day. Let your jigs fall to the bottom, then reel them slowly through the brush. The crappie will be deep right now, but you can catch enough to eat, if you can figure out the right depth. If you are not getting snagged every now and then, you are probably not fishing in the right areas.
Trout fishing remains good in the mountain streams and below Buford Dam. Fly, spin and live bait fishing for browns, rainbows and brook trout has been very good this year, due to both the stocking efforts of the Department of Natural Resources and the plentiful rain.
The rains have kept the rivers and streams flowing and in great condition. Pick your favorite method and go fishing.
Please note that there will be a free kids fishing event Sept. 26 at the Lower Pool Park from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. I will post more information about this event as the date gets closer.
Bank Fishing: As the weather cools, bass come closer to the banks. Whether you target bass in small ponds, rivers, larger lakes or reservoirs like our own Lake Lanier, these hard-fighting fish are worth targeting.
You should use medium-weight tackle with 8-12 pound test on spinning reels, or 10-14 pound test on bait casting reels.
Locate bank cover, like trees lying in the water, rocks, stumps or other objects where bass may lay in wait to ambush prey. Pick lures that will not get snagged on the bottom to avoid frustration and lost tackle.
Worms, spinier baits and shallow running crank baits are all great options for bank fishing.
Anglers that target bass from the shore have an advantage over the ones using boats. If they do hook a bass, the entire school may be drawn toward the bank where they can potentially be caught on subsequent casts. If you catch a bass, do not move down the bank until you have made several more casts from the same place. Multiple casts can yield several other catches, so it pays to stay around for a bit.
Bass are also suckers for live bait. Worms or minnows fished under a bobber or even on a bottom rig are excellent choices to use, no matter where you fish. Cast these live offerings to the same cover as mentioned above. Remember to enjoy the other things like wildlife, sunsets and the beauty of nature while fishing. Fishing is not just all about the catch.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website at aldrichfishing.com or lakelanierfishing.info. Remember to take a kid fishing!