Water Conditions: The lake level is down just under an inch from full pool which is great for news for dock owners and others for Lake Lanier in August. Lake Lanier is currently at 1,070.51 feet, or .49 feet below the normal full pool of 1,071. Lake surface temperatures are in the mid to upper-80s. The main lake and creeks mouths are clear to slightly stained. The creeks and rivers are slightly 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 pretty good. I usually don’t like to schedule guide trips in August, but I have had several trips recently, and we caught them pretty well. I market my guide trips as learning trips more than catching trips. That being said I understand that people remember techniques much better when they actually catch fish using new methods. See my email at the end of these articles to inquire about booking a trip.
Believe it or not, we have been getting some good bites on top-water plugs both early in the morning and throughout the day. Keep a top-water plug like a Sammy or Gunfish ready on the deck at all times. Most of our bites have been coming over planted brush at around 25 to 35 feet of water. Stop your boat a half of a cast from brush piles marked on your Lowrance Electronics. Cast a top-water plug over the brush, and the fish will let you know if they are active.
Casting other hard baits like a spy bait, a swim bait like a SPRO BBZ1 4-inch shad or a deep diving crank bait around these same brush piles can work well when the fish are inactive. Make several casts before moving up over the brush.
Once you have covered the area over and around the off shore brush with moving lures, it is time to stow the plugs and pull up directly over the brush. Try to dissect the brush piles with drop-shot rigs or a finesse bait like the SPRO Alien Head jig, and drop these finesse rigs. I rig these lures with either a Big Bites finesse worm or a Lanier Baits Fruity Worm.
Watch your Lowrance Graph while using a drop-shot or finesse rig. You will often see fish suspended in the water column under your boat. Bass are curious creatures, and they often will swim from the bottom towards your boat to investigate. Modern day electronics are powerful enough to watch your lure falling beneath your boat and sometimes you can actually watch a fish strike your lure on the fall. This is the ultimate video game!
Two other techniques deserve mention. During the full moon, there are some largemouth bass close to the shores, looking for brim nests. Top-water prop baits and smaller swim baits will coax strikes from bass in the shallows. In addition to shallow banks in the creeks, night fishing also remains good. All you need is a deep diving crank bait or a dark colored spinner bait with a large, single Colorado blade. Cast and retrieve these bottom bumping lures at a slow pace. Rocky banks in the creek mouths have been our best areas to target. Also try fishing midway in the back of the creeks around rocky points and humps.
Striper fishing rates from OK to good for anglers that are adept at finding the stripers that hang out in the deeper creek and river channels. It is a luxury for me to have electronics like my 12 and 16-inch Lowrance Carbon Units. These large screens enable me to see what is under water and to find fish quickly.
Since the introduction of blue back herring in the late 90’s, the stripers now have a constant food source that will hang around in the deepest, cold water. My Lowrance Electronics continue to show a clear thermocline at 27 feet of water.
Finding these large schools of stripers is probably your best way to start your trip. Trolling while watching your electronics is a good way to productively cover water. Troll a 1 to 2-ounce SPRO Bucktail rigged with a Suicide Shad at 8-9 colors of lead core, or use a Captain Mack’s umbrella rig and run it around 30 to 35 feet deep while searching for these massive schools of stripers with your electronics.
As mentioned last week, using a downrigger will hold your lure exactly at the proper depth, which is essential for catching fish. Once you locate a large school of stripers, deploy your down lines to the proper depth.
Keeping your herring alive during these hotter days is important. The proper mix of ice and salt or bait chemicals is a key component for keeping baits lively. Check in with your local bait shop for pointers on keeping herring lively. The oxygen levels at deeper depths have been inconsistent. Replace your baits every five to 10 minutes. If you are on fish and getting bites, you can easily go through a few dozen herring in just a few hours. Use a heavy, 2-ounce sinker to get them down to the hotter surface layer of water to the cooler depths quickly.
Lake Lanier’s stripers tend to be very line shy, so use as long of a leader of at least 12-pound Sniper fluorocarbon. Always fish your baits at the proper level and remember it is better to err slightly above the fish, but you must keep a bait in front of them to ensure they see and eat your offerings. Target creek mouths near the river channels.
Continue to experiment with power reeling your herring or dropping flutter spoons when the fish are present but you’re not getting the bites.
Crappie fishing remains slow, but some anglers are still catching them with small jigs around deeper brush at 20 to 35 feet deep. You can also try down lining crappie minnows or native spot tail minnows to catch a mixed bag of crappie and bass.
Fishing after dark under lights around the bridge pilings is still probably your best bet to load the coolers. Set out a combination of bobbers and down lines with minnows and pay attention to the depth at which you get bites. Once you dial in the most productive depth, change the rest of your rods to that same depth.
Bank Fishing: For many people, even those that do not fish often, the brim reminds us of memories from their childhood. Brim fishing has been good on Lake Lanier and smaller subdivision or farm ponds and lakes.
The moon is full at the time of this writing, and this moon phase is when the brim will build nests and lay their eggs in summertime. It is harder to see brim beds on Lanier, but in small ponds they may be earlier.
It is hard to beat a cricket or earthworm hooked a foot or two under a bobber. When using crickets, attach a small split shot a few inches above your hook. With live earth worms, it is often better to fish them weightless as a worm will sink naturally under water. Use just a hook with no snap or swivel and make sure you cover the hook tip with you bait to combat those pesky bait robbers.
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. He would love to hear from his readers, so please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org Remember to take a kid fishing.