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Lake Lanier fishing report: Cooler water temperatures signal better fishing
Lake Lanier
Lake Lanier. - photo by File photo

Water Conditions: The lake level is down slightly at 1,069.89 feet, or 1.11 feet below the normal full pool of 1,071. Lake surface temperatures have also fallen with this past week’s cooler weather and are in the lower-80s. The main lake and creeks mouths are clear to slightly stained. The creeks and rivers are slightly to very stained. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass fishing has rated from slow to decent this week. Water temperatures fell with the cold front earlier this week, which should affect fishing for the better. When the front blew through, fishing was pretty good, but after the sun came back out it slowed down again. This is the time of year when cold fronts will affect bass positively because the fish love the cooler water and weather as much as we do.

We have been using several techniques this week, but the best one for bigger fish has been cranking a SPRO Little John DD 70 in the mouths of lake coves. I use an 8-foot, medium action Kissel Kraft Custom Rod for several reasons. This setup allows me to make long casts, which is important because it gets the deep diving plug to run its maximum depth. With a longer rod, you can also dip the tip down into the water, which ads a foot or two to the depth that your lure runs. The medium action has a parabolic bend, which allows the fish to eat the lure and also allows anglers to fight the fish and not pull the hooks out.

The best technique for catching large numbers of bass is still fishing a drop-shot worm in and around brush from 20 to 35 feet deep. My 12-inch Lowrance Carbon display on the bow of my Nitro is an important tool for locating the arcs or wavy lines that indicate fish. The big, high resolution screen allows anglers to plainly see the bass come up and hit the lure as it falls before I even feel the bite through my rod. I use 16-pound SX1 Sunline Braid as the main line attached to a SPRO Swivel with a 7-pound Sunline Sniper Fluorocarbon leader and a No. 1 Straight Shank Gamakatsu hook. Rig the hook with a Lanier Baits or Big Bite Baits straight tail finesse worm.

Other lures that are scoring bass are top-water plugs like a Chug Bug. Fluke style Big Bite Jerk Shads and Strike King jigs with a Yo Mamma trailer are also worth a try. Fishing after dark with the same SPRO Deep Diving plug mentioned above is also worth a try as the days get shorter and the water temperatures fall.

Striper fishing is good, and there are some massive schools of stripers below Browns Bridge from 30 to as much as 100-feet deep. The stripers will show up as arcs when your boat is moving and as long wavy lines when your boat is stationary.

Trolling seems to be the most productive way to entice these hard-fighting fish into biting this week. Troll either large, single buck tails or the old reliable umbrella rig. The best umbrella rig is a Captain Mack’s rig outfitted with Chipmunk or SPRO Bucktails with either white or chartreuse curly or Hyper Tails. Pull these rigs at eight to nine colors of lead core or even better use a down rigger to achieve a precise depth. You want your lures to run just at or slightly above where you mark fish on your Lowrance displays.

I am spoiled to have a Lowrance 12-inch Carbon of the bow and a 16-inch Carbon unit with 3D, Down Scan and Structure Scan side imaging on the helm. These huge screens along with the afore mentioned features allows me to not only mark fish directly below the boat but also out to the sides at 100 or more feet to cover a 200-foot path. With Structure Scan, I can actually lay a waypoint directly where the fish appear on the screen, even though they are not directly under the boat.

If you prefer to fish live bait over trolling, try down lining herring or other bait fish like gizzard shad or native spot tail minnows. You can net these baitfish in the coves by chumming an area with grits. You can even use live brim, but be aware that you must catch brim with a rod and reel, as netting brim is illegal. Use a heavier 2-ounce sinker with an 8 to 12-foot long leader to increase your odds of catching these line shy stripers.

There have been some smaller, 3 to 5-pound fish showing up around Hydro Glow Dock lights. The fish will strike a SPRO McStick, Bomber Long A or even live bait cast around the sides of these fish attracting lights.

Crappie fishing remains slow, but you can catch them if you’re patient. Sink a live minnow or small crappie jig down to brush located in the coves or creeks at 25 to 35-feet deep. You will also catch bass, brim, yellow perch and the occasional walleye in these same deep brush piles. Yellow perch and walleye are even better to eat than crappie!

The crappie will show up around Hydro Glow Dock lights or floating lights set out around the bridge pilings after dark. You best baits are ether small crappie minnows or native spot tail minnows. It is easier to catch spot tails before sundown so fill your bait tanks before heading out after dark

Bank Fishing: Catfish are often ignored by most Lake Lanier Anglers, but there are a few people that do fish for them year-round. Cast live nightcrawlers, cut bait or even chicken livers. If you use chicken livers consider placing them inside of a piece of nylon stocking to avoid slinging off your baits. Commercial catfish bait will also work well.

Catfish have a great sense of smell, so baits that are stinky often work best. Your average catfish will run from 3 to 5 pounds. That being said, you still have an opportunity to catch a huge flat head catfish close to 50 pounds, so make sure you have fresh line and a reel with a good drag. Use 12 to 17-pound monofilament on a medium heavy fishing rod with a heavy sinker to get the baits to the bottom. Target areas that have a ditch or creek channel that runs close to the bank. Secure your rods with either store bought or PVC rod holders.


Eric Aldrich is an outdoor writer, marketing specialist, guide and bass angler. He is currently booking teaching trips for Lake Lanier’s spotted and largemouth bass. Reports are based on personal experience and permission from a close network of friends. Aldrich would love to hear from his readers, so please email him at Remember to take a kid fishing.