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Lake Lanier fishing report: Bass fishing is tough; Striper fishing is sporadic
Lake Lanier
Lake Lanier. - photo by File photo

Water Conditions: Lake Lanier has filled up slightly after the recent rains. Currently we are at 1,072.5 feet, or one and a half feet above the normal full pool of 1,071 feet. Lake surface temperatures are varying between the mid to uppers 80’s depending on if it’s raining or sunny.

The main lake and lower lake creeks mouths are clear to stained. The upper lake creeks, pockets and the rivers are stained to muddy.

Check generation schedules before heading out to the river below Buford Dam at 770-945-1466.

Bass fishing has been tougher this week, even with quality electronics like the Lowrance Carbon units I will be using going forward. We have really struggled to get a lot of bites. That being said, we are catching some good ones when we do hook up.

Video fishing with a drop shot rig has been the go to technique this past week. The bass seem to be holding in brush and on the timberlines from 25 feet on down to as deep as 40 feet. Drop down on the best brush even if you don’t see fish on your electronics. Many fish are buried deep in the brush or hanging very close to the bottom where they are harder to see on your electronics.

My set up for a drop shot fishing rig is comprised of a #1 Gamakatsu Aberdeen or a drop shot hook rigged with either a Big Bites Shakin” Squirrel in Green Watermelon Red Flake or a Lanier Baits finesse worm in LJ’s Passion color. I always dip these worms in JJ’s Magic to make sure that the fish hold on to the worm longer. I use an 18-inch, 7-pound Sunline Fluorocarbon Leader with a SPRO Swivel attached to a 16-pound Sunline SX1 Braided main line. I use a Kissel Krafts Custom Rods medium weight spinning rod with a Shimano reel. This set up allows you to offer a finesse presentation while still having enough power to get these fish out of the brush and into the boat.

Other presentations like a Ned Rig, Carolina Rig or finesse worm on a 3/16th or 1/4 ounce Gamakatsu Alien Head will produce. Work these rigs through the brush and on down the steeper drops close to timber lines. Consider cranking this deeper cover with a SPRO Little John DD 90. These deep diving crank baits will dive up to 24 feet deep on a very long cast.

Striper fishing has been either tough or good based on finding deeper fish in the ditches and timber lines just off the main river and creek channels. The fish may be stacked in an area one morning only to vacate it later in the day or the next morning. Stripers tend to be pelagic, meaning they are not relating to the bottom or structure but instead following the fast-moving schools of herring. Stripers have one job in the dog days of summer — to eat.

Down lined herring, native spot tail minnows or large shiners are the best baits this week. Herring need close attention to keep them lively during the hot days of summer. Fresh water with the proper amounts of ice and sea salt plus an air stone to provide oxygen are almost essential when air temperatures approach the 90’s. They also need a round bait tank to protect them from getting “red nose” from bumping into the corners.

Native spot tails and large shiners are a lot easier to keep alive, but they still need a little ice to keep them lively. You can keep these baits in a standard bass boat live well or smaller bait tank. Try to use the recirculate option instead of pumping in hot lake water to keep them alive.

Use down lines with a heavy two-ounce sinker to get your baits through the hotter surface layer on down below the thermocline at 25 to 35 feet. Use a mainline of 20-pound Sunline Natural monofilament attached to a SPRO Swivel with a long 12-pound Sunline Fluorocarbons leader. The longer the leader the better, but 10 to 12 feet is a good start.

Use your Lowrance Electronics to locate the schools of stripers. If you do not mark fish keep moving until you see the arcs or wavy lines that indicate stripers. More times than not, you will also see clouds of bait fish where the stripers are located. Be aware that these deeper stripers will constantly be moving, and their locations can change hourly. Just because you found them yesterday does not mean you will find them today.

Power fishing with a Nichols spoon or SPRO Bucktail and a Big Bites Suicide Shad has been working in combination with your live bait down lines. Drop these offerings down to the bottom through the school, and then reel them up through the fish as fast as you can for some arm breaking strikes.

You will need to move around a lot, so try trolling a Captain Mack’s Umbrella rig on seven to eight colors of lead core and run your boat around three miles per hour while you search for fish. This set up will put your umbrella rig right around the thermocline layer where the striper will be located. Watch your electronics, and when you see stripers, stop and drop your baits rigged on down lines.

Crappie fishing has been very slow and about the only way we can catch any is to fish the bridges or lighted boat docks with Hydro Glow Lights. The good news is that you will probably catch a mixed bag of crappie, brim and bass with live bait rigged on a slip bobber so that you can adjust the depth of your crappie minnows or native spot tails.

Trout fishing ranges from fair to good both up in the mountains and below the dams in the colder waters under these tail races.

Working a small inline spinner on light 4-6-pound test is a great lure year-round. Cast your spinners out, let them sink, and then reel them just fast enough to keep the spinners moving. I have caught trout by holding a Rooster Tail almost still while I let it spin in the current.

Live worms, Berkley Power Nuggets and corn will do well on a bottom rig below the rapids. Just make sure the waters you fish allow live bait fishing.

Bank fishing: A question was asked on social media this week about how an angler could catch large, eating-sized brim. The best way to do this is to get access to a local farm or subdivision pond. The small lake across the street from my home has huge, hand-sized brim that are suckers for a worm or cricket under a bobber. All you need is a standard kid pole and reel like a Zebco 33 or a small spinning outfit. Just use a small Aberdeen hook tied directly below a bobber with no extra swivels or snaps. You should use a very small split shot when fishing with crickets. Cover the entire hook with your worm or cricket and cast it close to the banks.

On Lake Lanier you can catch a lot of smaller brim with the same set up. For the larger brim you will need to fish deeper. If you have access to a dock, just cast a weighted line with a worm or cricket and let it sink 10 feet deep. If you do not have access to a dock, then use a slip bobber set to 10 feet deep and cast it out around deeper banks with rocks or laydowns.

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. He would love to hear from his readers so please email him at Remember to take a kid fishing.