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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Trout fishing strong during clear water periods
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Lake Lanier’s water level is 1.5 feet above the normal full pool of 1,071.

Lake Lanier’s water is clear on the main lake and stained to muddy in the creeks and rivers from recent rains. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear. Lake temperatures are holding steady in the lower 80’s. Please check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass: This is the first year I can remember where Lake Lanier has stayed above full pool all summer since the early 90’s. Many trees that fell down into the lake from shoreline erosion. This will make excellent habitat for fish in the next few years.

The lake temperatures have also stayed in the low to mid 80’s all summer long. This has kept a lot of bass shallow in the water column.

All the extra water for bass to roam around and a relatively shallow thermocline have created some challenging days out on the water.

Our best pattern this past couple of weeks has revolved around steep drop-offs and areas with rocky bottoms.

Humps, points and ledges with rock all seem to be holding fish. If there are fresh brush piles planted on these structures, that’s all the better.

The older brush seems to be less important for holding fish this year.

I suspect that the crayfish and bream populations on Lake Lanier are pretty healthy. We caught some fat spotted bass and largemouth with jigs by digging deep-diving crank baits into rocky bottom areas.

These lures tend to mimic crawdads, and bream more than shad or bluebacks. The fact that they are eating these lures on the bottom seem to reinforce this theory.

Cast a SPRO Little John DD or other deep-diving crank bait around rocky humps and points or slow roll them on deep ledges. When fishing the steeper drop-offs, make sure to cast your lures parallel to the ledge to keep them in contact with the bottom.

A 1/2-ounce Strike King Pro Model Jig or a green colored creature bait on a heavy jig head worked through the rock and brush will work well.

I have been using a brand new Big Bites Read Deal Craw prototype on a 1/2-ounce Alien Head for some of my biggest fish both out on the main lake and back in the creeks. We have stayed out of the back of the creeks because they are very muddy with all the recent heavy rains.

There has been some sporadic topwater and swim-bait action on the lower lake during sunny periods, but it has been pretty slim. Still keep a Storm Chug Bug or Lucky Craft Gunfish ready at all times.

Also cast a six-inch SPRO BBZ1, Bull Shad or other longer profile swim bait over the main lake brush to pick off any active bass before moving in and vertically working a drop shot or jig.

I have a new Humminbird 1158 on the bow of my Nitro that is really going to make sight fishing with my electronics easy. This action has come more into play in recent weeks as the topwater bite has slowed down.

Finally, the best and easiest way to catch bass hands down in summer is by using live, native spottail minnows.

You will need a fine mesh cast net that you can purchase at local tackle stores to catch these slim baitfish. Chum out grits, crackers or bread crumbs around sandy or clay areas and you should be able to catch a bunch for a day of fishing.

Use a drop-shot rig and hook these minnows through the lips or under their dorsal fins and drop them down over brush piles. You can also use a light Carolina Rig-Ten pound test with a 1/2–ounce split shot and a small Aberdeen or circle hook if you are casting from shore.

Stripers: The striper fishing has been great one day and a challenge the next.

This has been a weird year for summertime striper fishing for sure. Watch you electronics closely for the tell tail signs, arcs or spaghetti looking lines that give away the large schools of fish. We are marking some big schools of fish, but getting them to bite requires some finesse. You will have to have plenty of herring and a properly treated bait tank to keep them lively enough.

With all of the water being pulled by the CORP through the dam to keep lake levels in check, many anglers have commented on the changing water oxygen levels.

Most of the successful anglers are fishing down lake, but I know a couple that are still catching decent fish above Browns Bridge. Trolling has dominated one day, while down lines have worked best the next. It seems that whatever method you are most proficient at is the one that will work best.

Trolling different lures like swim baits, Bomber Long As or McStick 115s may give you an advantage because the stripers do not see these very much on Lake Lanier. You will need a Canon Down Rigger for this type of trolling.

Some anglers are still catching fish with lead core set out to 8-9 colors with SPRO or Captain Mac Bucktail Jigs. Tip these buck tail jigs with a live blueback herring to increase your odds. Watch your Humminbird graphs to determine the precise depth, but 30-feet over a 50-to 100-foot bottom deep seems to be a good starting point.

Trolling will allow anglers to cover water, but when you find a huge school of stripers, then dropping blueback herring on down lines to these fish can be the best way to load the boat.

If the stripers are staying put, and you can keep a lively blueback in front of them, you should have a good day.

This will require you to change up your bait often as bluebacks may only stay active on a down rig for 10-15 minutes before you will need to pull up and re-bait it with a fresh herring.

Target flats and timberlines just off of where the creek channels run into the deeper river channel.

The mouths of Six Mile, Big Creek, Shoal Creek, Baldrige and around Buford Dam have all been holding schools of stripers.

Crappie fishing has been slow.

Nighttime fishing around lighted boat docks is the way to go, but even that has been just fair. There were some fish biting in the rivers, but recent rains may have slowed that bite with the influx of muddy water. For those diehard crappie anglers, fish light jigs tipped with a live minnow around lighted docks with deep water close by.

You can also set out lights on bridge pilings that have brush set down around 15 to 25 feet and down line minnows near the brush. You will probably catch as many bass and catfish as crappie doing this in August.

Trout fishing has been good during clear water periods. The rains have made it a challenge to find calmer water, but the trout population is doing just fine. I have witnessed several eight-fish limits coming from below Buford Dam during slack water periods, but it is important to check water release schedules before heading out to the river as the water can rise quickly.

Note that you must wear a life preserver if you fish or wade from Buford Dam down to Highway 20. Wearing a life preserver is always a good policy, no mater where you fish. Use live worms, where permitted by law, or fly and spin tackle with your favorite artificial lures.

Bank Fishing: When it rains, earthworms are washed into the creeks and rivers. Worms represent a huge food source for many species of fish, including bass, bream, catfish, carp and even walleye. I have probably caught more fish on live and artificial worms than any other bait in my lifetime.

You can dig up worms for free in most backyards where the soil is good and gathering them is almost as much fun for kids as fishing with them. You can also buy them at most tackle shops. The biggest mistake I see most anglers make is using too much hardware when worm fishing.

A large swivel, or too big of a hook, will turn fish away. When possible, use just a small hook and thread the worm until it covers it up completely. If current is present, then add the smallest split shot possible about a foot above your hook. You can also fish a worm effectively unweighted below a bobber.

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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