By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Local fishing: Schooling bass easy for anglers to catch
Placeholder Image

Lake Lanier’s water level actually rose a little with this week’s rains to 1,068.44 feet or 2.56 feet below full pool of 1,071.

Water surface temperature have dropped and risen based on weather trends but are presently in the lower 70s.

Lake Lanier is clear to stained on the main lake and stained in the rivers and creeks. The Chattahoochee River is stained below Buford Dam due to lake turnover. Check generation schedules at 770-945-1466 before heading out to the river.

Bass fishing remains strong and the fish are schooling throughout the day.

There has been a good morning bite on the main lake and in the creeks. This action can occur any time of day.

Contrary to conventional fishing wisdom, Lake Lanier’s spotted bass will strike topwater plugs better in sunny conditions during the day time hours as opposed to other lakes where overcast mornings or sundown are when the best bite occurs.

This is because of the forage fish, blueback herring are the main food source for bass and stripers in the fall. When the sun shines the predator fish can silhouette herring against the surface, which makes for some awesome topwater action for anglers to enjoy.

When targeting bass that are eating the long slender herring, you should try to ‘match the hatch’ and use long slender lures. Topwater lures like a Sammy, Big Bites jerk shad or Super Spook are all great choices to use when the spotted bass are locked into a the herring bite.

Other subsurface lures will work well and it’s hard to beat a jerk bait. A SPRO McStick 110 is working very well right now and you don’t have to decipher how long to pause this lure, like you would in the winter. Instead you can do what I call ‘stupid fishing’, which simply means cast out and reel it back in with a medium-steady retrieve.

Because it is so easy to fish a McStick is a great lure for kids and adults alike right now while water temperature are over 60 degrees.

If the herring bite eludes you, other methods have been working too. Crank Baits, Worms on a Jig Head and even a buzz bait in the morning are all great lures to try. You may also find that the largemouth bite is good in the back of the creeks and river, both up and down lake.

Largemouth bass have been a staple for winning local tournaments on Lake Lanier in the past several years.

This has been a blessing because it allows anglers a choice between fishing deep and fishing shallow. Largemouth bass tend to weigh more than spotted bass, so they garnish a good deal of attention when there is money on the line.

Stripers: Right now Lake Lanier is in the process of lake stratification or ‘lake turnover’, which most anglers use to describe the layers of cold and warmer water that are mixing together as surface temperatures drop. This time of year some anglers say fishing is tough, while others claim that it is easier because the stripers are higher in the water column.

There are a few different methods that have been working, but the one method that anglers seem to prefer is catching them on topwater plugs.

The topwater action is really just starting. Stripers can be found on the surface during major feeding times during the day.

This action can occur up and down lake, but you need to be the right place at the right time. When the stripers thrash the surface, they tend to be suckers for both topwater and subsurface lures.

The same lures as mentioned in the bass fishing report will also work great for stripers.

Because of this, anglers can often catch both species at the same time in the same location. One lure that gets overlooked at times is the old-reliable buck tail jig.

A one-ounce SPRO Buck tail will produce as many bites as a topwater and it tends to catch the bigger stripers that stay below the schooling fish to pick off the wounded bait fish.

Vary your retrieve and start with a medium-fast retrieve. Then impart an occasional jerk or pause to trigger these hard-fighting fish into biting.

As with every other pattern and time of year, your electronics play a huge part for catching stripers. This week, the stripers have been both shallow and deep. Determining the proper depth at which to fish has been crucial to success.

If you fish below the stripers, you will rarely get a bite. The same goes if you fish above them, too, but it is better to err on the shallower side, as stripers will move up to eat a bait. They seldom move shallower.

Use live herring or medium-sized gizzard shad to catch the best numbers of fish.

Rely on your electronics to determine the proper depth at which to set your live baits.

The majority of fish have been caught rather shallow, so you may want to try a down line and also a free line to see which one the fish prefer. You can also run two flat lines out behind your boat and two downlines straight under your boat.

Whichever method you use, make sure that you keep one rod with a topwater or subsurface plug ready at all times.
The stripers may appear out of nowhere and start busting herring on the surface. It pays to have a rod with a lure ready at all times.

Crappie: The crappie fishing will get better as we approach November. Not many people report on crappie in fall on Lake Lanier, but fall can provide anglers with a good stringer of these tasty fish.

The crappie tend to concentrate on the small threadfin shad in the pockets and in the backs of creeks. Look for water that has a slight stain but stay away from really clear or really muddy water. Shoot small 1/16-ounce jigs around docks with brush or fish with down lined crappie minnows or shad in brush at around 7-10 feet deep.

Trout fishing remains very good in the mountains. Some streams are getting ready to close for the winter. Check local regulations if you plan to fish on or after Oct. 31. This is the official day that the season ends.

Many trout streams remain open year round, so you can continue fish with dry and wet flies, and the standard lures and live baits where permitted by law.

The Chattahoochee tail race continues to show signs of lake turnover. Because of this, the fishing has slowed down slightly. Cast inline spinners like a Mepps or Roster Tail and try using brighter colors when the water is stained. While I am more in favor of the rooster tail, the mepps may actually work better due to the rounder blade which trout can sense.

Bank Fishing: The bass are shallow in the water column. They can be caught from banks with a steep drop where the channels swings or on steep bluff walls. Use a SPRO McStick 110 or try it’s smaller counterpart the McRip. Work these lures at a medium-retrieve speed. You can also catch some good fish on topwater plugs when fishing from the shore.
Because these lures seldom run deeper than 3-5 feet, they are less prone to snagging.

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

Regional events