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Lake Lanier fishing report: Heavy rains keep our rivers and lakes full
Lake Lanier
Lake Lanier as seen from the air in July 2017. - photo by Nick Bowman

Water Conditions: Lake Lanier has held steady but will certainly be on the rise after this week’s rains. Currently, we are at 1,071.9 or .9-foot above the normal full pool of 1,071. Lake surface temperatures are in the mid-80’s.

The main lake and lower lake creek’s mouths are clear to stained. The upper lake creeks, pockets and the rivers are slightly stained to muddy in some locations.

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

Bass: Bass fishing has been good for anglers that are adept at fishing off shore brush. The bass have been ranging from the surface on out deeper into the timber lines. This is typical Lake Lanier fishing in the summer.

Before the sun gets high in the sky, cast a top water plug like a Strom Chug Bug or a smaller Sammy and work these lures over points and humps in the creek mouths. Other moving lures like a Spy Bait, SPRO BBZ1 Shad or a Sebile Magic Swimmer are also good lures to target fish during the early morning feeding period. Keep a top water plug or swim bait tied on all day long in case you encounter feeding fish on the surface.

Having a milk run of off shore brush is the deal this week. Brush piles on the ends of points, humps and steeper bluff wall banks in 20 to 40 feet are holding some nice fish. Developing a milk run takes time on the water. Your Lowrance Structure Scan 3D will help you greatly with finding theses secret off shore honey holes. Remember while you’re fishing to be ready to mark a waypoint on your Lowrance Electronics anytime you encounter brush or other significant cover on the bottom.

The drop shot rig is our go-to method during the dog days of summer. Quality electronics like my Lowrance Carbon units allow me to actually see my drop shot rig on the screen as it goes down. Anglers will also clearly see the bass react to their offerings on the screen. It is the best video game ever!

The bass will appear as wavy lines and you will plainly see these fish rise and then follow or eat your drop shot on the fall. It always amazes fellow anglers to see this process in action, but what the heck! We invest hundreds or thousands of dollars in something called a “fish finder” so it makes sense that these units find fish!

Other methods will work in off shore brush. A shaky head rig like a Gamakatsu Alien Head rigged with a Big Bites or Lanier Baits Fruity worm is a great lure to explore this deeper brush. For bigger bites, try fishing a Strike King Pro Model Jig with a Big Bites Yo Mama trailer and swim this jig over and through the brush.

After dark, work a jig n’ pig combo around deeper rocky banks. A large Colorado blade spinner bait or a SPRO Little John DD90 are both good choices as the fish have been a little deeper than in past weeks. 

Stripers: Stripers fishing has been very good if you can find the large schools of deeper fish. I rely on my electronics to show me where the fish are located. If you are not marking arcs, wavery lines or the tell tail “sketti” that indicates a large school of fish, then move on to more productive water.

Most of the schools of fish we are locating have been out around the creek and river channels close to timber lines in creeks and out on the main lake. Two methods have been working best: live herring on a down line or a medium to large sized spoon.

My favorite way to catch stripers in summer is to “power reel” a Nichols Lures Flutter Spoon or the bigger Ben Parker Spoon. If you have not tried this method, then I highly recommend you do! Once you locate a group of fish, free line your spoons directly down to the bottom. Then, reel them as fast as you can up through the fish that you see on your electronics. It only takes one fish and you will be hooked. The stripers hit these lures with extreme aggressiveness, and on a good day your arm will be sore from catching fish!

Also keep plenty of lively herring for when you locate these massive schools of stripers. The thermocline is located right around 25 and 30 feet right now, so use a heavy weight to ensure that your herring drop quickly below the warmer upper layer of water. A long leader with a nose-hooked herring on a Gamakatsu Octopus hook rigged behind a 1-2-ounce weight has been working best.

Change out your baits every ten minutes to make sure your herring are lively.

Crappie: Fishing the bridges or lighted boat docks with Hydro Glow Lights continues to be your best bet for crappie. Try to catch your own native spot tails minnows or use store-bought medium shiners and rig them on a slip bobber so that you can adjust the depth that your minnows drop to.

Trout Fishing: This week’s recent rains have pounded some of the creeks and rivers up in the mountains. That being said, fishing can be OK in natural streams in the higher altitudes. Fly fishing has been a little tougher but spinners and live earth worms (where permitted by law) have been working fair.

Fishing below lake dams has been good, but expect the CORPS to be generating water in which case being on the water below the dams can be dangerous. When the dams are generating water, look for other waters to fish.

Bank fishing: Carp are one fish that bite in the worst conditions, and they can be a blast to catch on light line. Carp are attracted to human activity, and they will eat even during the hottest parts of the day. Chum out a half a can of corn around marinas and campgrounds. Wait about 5 minutes and then string three to four kernels on a small Aberdeen hook. Cast it out, secure your rod and wait. It the carp are present, it shouldn’t take long! Hooking one of the North Georgia Redfish on light tackle is about as much fun as you can have when the other fishing is tough!

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 esaldrich@yahoo.com Remember to take a kid fishing!