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Fishing Report: Capitalize on the early morning bite
Lake Lanier
Lake Lanier as seen from the air in July 2017. - photo by Nick Bowman

Water Conditions: Lake Lanier’s water level is holding very steady, remaining just above full pool. Lake levels are 1,071.26 or .26 feet above the normal full pool at 1071. The main lake and lower lake creeks are mostly clear. The water up in the rivers rates from clear to stained.

Lake Lanier’s surface temperatures have risen and are around the mid 80’s.

The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at (770) 945-1466. 

Bass: Bass fishing has been good. The weather has remained relatively stable. The same goes for surface water temperatures which are up slightly from last week into the mid-80’s. While our bass catching numbers have been down, the ones we are catching have averaged bigger than usual. About 1 in 5 fish we are catching have been largemouth and we have had some 5-pound plus largemouth that were caught and released from my Nitro this week.

Some anglers I have spoken with have almost completely stashed their topwater plugs in trade for sub-surface and bottom bumping lures. Lures like a small Fluke rigged on an underspin or Spy Baits like a Spin John 80 Spy Baits are catching numbers for anglers’ this past week on Lanier.

The one thing I know is that most anglers would rather catch one good fish on a topwater plug then three smaller fish below the surface. Our results this week suggest you may want to keep at least one topwater rod on the deck at all times. Topwater lures like a chrome Zara Spook or Lucky Craft Sammy are great choices for waking up those finicky fish. 

Get out early and start on your most productive areas to capitalize on the early morning bite. Bass are schooling early in the day around brush around humps and points in the creek mouths.

A guide can earn his guide fee in the first hour if they can get on a big school of spotted bass early that will eat topwater lures. Just be careful…Areas that held fish yesterday may not produce the same when you get there today! 

Listen to some of these other guys who are fishing subsurface lures. Spy baits, small under spins and small swimbaits will produce around the same offshore brush along with rocky ledge drop-offs when nothing else will. They are also catching good fish so pick your strengths and go fishing.

When looking for brush use your Lowrance Structure Scan. With my 12 and 15-inch units, it is easy to pick up imaging of bottom structure for marking waypoints and for setting up your milk runs for fishing on the next trip. Your best options are to locate a single large piece of cover like a big hardwood vs. stumps or a bunch of small brush piles. 

Not all big brush piles hold fish all of the time but almost all of them hold active fish some of the time.

Stripers: Striper fishing has been good for anglers that can read and interpret your Lowrance Electronics. Locate the deep drains that runoff from the steep banks located close to the deep creek and river channels. These deeper ditch and creek channels are the best areas to look at to locate stripers.

The stripers have been located from 30-feet and on down deeper. These fish are relating to the herring schools. Some times you can set down lined herring down in an area where your only marking the huge schools of bait that are in water from 30 to 60 feet dee-deep. If the herring are present the stripers will be close by. Don’t sit on any area longer than a half-hour unless you continue to get bites. You can bet that there will be several other active schools where your fishing time can be much better spent.

Use a 20-pound test Sunline Natural Monofilament for your mainline and attach it with a 1.5-ounce sinker attached to a tiny SPRO Swivel and attach a long 6 to 12-foot leader of 12 to 14-pound test Sniper Fluorocarbon Line. Attach a 1/0 Gamakatsu Octopus hook and run it through the nose of a fresh lively herring.

Drop your herring down quickly through the warmer surface layer of water through to the colder lower layer of water where it’s cooler. You will probably need to switch out your baits every 10-minutes to make sure your offerings are as realistic and lively as possible. 

Crappie: 100% of or crappie fishing this past week has been done around lighted boat docks after dark. After fishing for bass until midnight we have one particularly productive lighthouse close to the take out where we can catch 10 to 20-hand sized crappie in an hour. 

This fishing is fun because crappie are usually too deep to see in summer but after midnight, they come up shallow where you can sight cast and fish for them. Use ultra-light like 2 to 6-pound Sunline Siglon on a lightweight Kissel Kraft Spinning rod with a light spinning reel. This set up will allow you to both see the line and feel the super light “tics” that indicate a crappie has bitten your offering.

Other anglers are plying the deeper brush around docks during the day and have been having decent results. Use the same set up as mentioned above and fish brush in 15 to 30-feet around deeper docks where you can mark fish on your electronics.

Bank fishing: Brim will spawn this time of year both on Lake Lanier as well as in your local farm or subdivision lakes and ponds. Usually, they will build their nests during the full moon and the new moons in the summer months.

Even when the brim are not spawning, they are still fun to catch from the bank. You can catch brim with a regular Zebco 33 fishing outfit. You can also use a fly rod or a lightweight set up like mentioned in the crappie section, Brim make excellent table fare and they are often the first fish caught by new anglers.