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Lake Lanier Fishing Report-September 25, 2020

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The first week of fall, which officially began Tuesday the 22nd at 9:31 am, brought in some cooler air temps which dropped the water temps down to 72 degrees. The surface temps were around 82 degrees two weeks ago so that is a significant drop in that time frame. Fishing conditions have changed accordingly, and fall patterns are in play. Lake levels dropped slightly from this time last week, .10 feet to a level of 1071.54, .54 feet over full pool. Our long term forecast indicates really nice weather for the weekend, followed by a rain chance Monday and Tuesday, then some very fall like temperatures for the remainder of the week. FYI, a couple of noteworthy events this week: Saturday the 26th is National Hunting and Fishing Day! Georgia residents will NOT need a license to fish on any public waters in the State! The October Full Moon occurs on Thursday the 1st, so their you go, I have provided you with two excellent excuses to get out on the lake! 

The Striper bite has been pretty good, with some ups and downs and the expected movement associated with the turnover. The patterns are varied, and the shallow water patterns have been much better with lowlight conditions and wind. The biggest change is probably the number of fish that are in deeper water, 40 to 60 feet down over a 60 to 80 foot bottom. Live Herring on the downline have been producing well on this pattern, with fish over open water or on points and around humps. 

The topwater bite is still producing fish, Redfins, walking baits, and Magic swimmers are all good choices. Many days this bite has been good mid day or late into the evening, with the surface activity generally being best the last couple hours of the day. If you are not seeing fish chasing bait on the surface, blind cast the topwater/swim bait to points and humps. Keep the boat in 30 feet and cast to the banks, the bite may occur anywhere from the bank to the boat, but I think most of the strikes will be over a 15 to 20 foot bottom. 

Trolling the umbrella rigs over 35 foot humps remains a viable pattern although not as strong as it was in recent weeks. The 3 oz. 9 bait 4 arm rigs seem to be the strongest on this pattern, either buck tails or swim bait rigs, and if you see fish on the crest of the high spot they will generally take the rig. This pattern has diminished in the last few days because the fish have not been on the high spots in the numbers that we saw during most of September, with more fish staying in the deeper water on the periphery of the high spots. This bite has been generally best In the afternoons and evenings. When you are trolling the humps and start seeing see fish around the humps, switch to the downlines, keying on any points that tail off of the high spots into the 60 to 80 foot water.  

Many of you have asked about the after dark Bomber bite, and I can’t really give you a good report as I have not been out to try yet. I tweet that bite sneak up on me this year, usually by now I have been out there several times if the weather is decent. It should be full on, water temp is almost perfect and with a full Moon bearing down on us Thursday, a little after hours fishing may be a very worthwhile endeavor! I’ll update accordingly next week!

Bass fishing is ok, a lot of movement and inconsistency, typical stuff we have to deal with during the turnover. The shallow patterns that really became energized when the remnants of Hurricane Sally passed over North Georgia will still be effective, and that type of cloudy, rainy windy weather seems to really influence those patterns. The topwater/swimbait bite may also may be very good mid day and in the evening, not limited to early am. So, use the run and gun method to maximize this bite, and it is effective on there main lake or in the creeks. 

While the previously mentioned pattern is the main focus of most fishermen, here are a couple of other options that are also producing pretty well. Clay points in the middle and upper parts of the lake are producing some good numbers of fish, a trick worm on a Weedless Wonder has been a consistent producer. The bite may occur anywhere from 5 to 20 feet, weather will again be a big factor on the depth of the fish. There are also some fish on wood that will respond to Flukes and Chatterbaits. This bite is all better in the middle part of the lake, or creek backs on the lower end. After Thursday’s rain we should have some stained water that you may be able to use to your advantage Don’t forget the docklights, if you are out prior to sunup or after dark. They are becoming more prolific with the onset of cooling water temps. Jerk baits, Flukes, and bucktails are all good choices to cast to fish roaming the lights!

Good Fishing!

Capt. Mack 

Lake Lanier Fishing Report-September 18, 2020

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Last week I stated that the lake level dropped below full pool for the fist time since February 1st of this year. Well, that did not last long as the remnants of Hurricane Sally brought a big rain dump that raised the lake level back over full to 1071.64 as of Friday pm, up .74 from last week to bring the current level to .64 feet above full pool. The surface temps went the other way, falling to 78 after staying in the low 80’s last week. The surface temps will most likely continue to fall as we get some cooler temps arriving this weekend, with low temps forecast to be in the upper 40’s on Monday and Tuesday! 

The Striper patterns are beginning to change, last week initiated the transition into fall with the fish really responding to swim baits and top waters prior to the arrival of Sally. The live bait bite up in the pockets over that 30 to 40 foot bottom was still a good pattern, and trolling the rigs over the high spots and 30 to 40 foot contours continued to produce well. I expect the shallow water patterns, and the casting techniques to become stronger with the onset of cooling water. So, dust off the top waters and swim baits, and add that to the above mentioned techniques! 

Casting the swim baits and top waters to points and humps is a solid pattern and if you are willing to keep moving and fish plenty of places this pattern can account for some decent numbers. Sebiles and Redfins seem to be two of the go to baits early into this pattern, however, any of your other favorites may also produce, Keep the bait positioned in 25 to 30 feet and cast to the humps and points, if the fish are there the bite is quick. Remember, lake conditions, like wind and light levels may change the bite so match your baits accordingly. I will try and define this pattern more next week and update accordingly!

Trolling umbrellas over the humps or remains a viable pattern and typically this technique remains strong right through the end of the year. The depths or the most productive part of the lake may change, but the basics of this method should not was we move into the fall. Currently, humps, points, and flats adjacent to the banks are all holding fish, key on a 35 foot bottom and cover lots of water and this pattern will produce well. Footnote: in the past few days this pattern is best from mid morning on, so fishing bait or casting top waters may be better in the early am,

I have several inquiries about trolling lead core and is it effective going into Fall? It probably has more year around application than we realize, but it will typically be a secondary pattern once we enter into the turnover phase. Why? Mainly because if the fish are in the pockets, in shallow water, or on small structures (like the tops of the high spots or in a brush pile) It is hard to accurately present a bait on lead core to such a small or confined area. Because you need to deploy so much line to get the bait to the proper depth, you lose the precision needed to consistently place the bait in the strike zone.You will probably find trolling the full size rigs, stealth trolling a Mini, or casting to be more effective in the above mentioned situations. That being said, if you find fish over open water, or over a big flat or suspended over trees, lead core trolling can be very effective into the fall months.

Bass fishing is good, and last week’s storm really energized the bite. Lots of topwater fish, both surfacing fish or just blind casting to structure and pulling the fish up to your bait. I think 15 to 25 feet was the most productive depth, however there were some good numbers of fish taken on  some of the shallower structures in 8 to 15 feet, especially with the wind, cloud cover and rain from last week’s storm.  Points, brush and humps were all good places to look for fish, and really be looking for the surfacing fish. They have been showing up frequently, probably more frequently in the early morning or evening, with some sporadic activity throughout the day. 

Of course the worms on the drop shot, shakey head, or a Texas rig are still counting for plenty of fish, cast them to the same 15 to 25 foot brush and points, and pitching them around docks in the same depth will also produce some good numbers of fish. Casting the Flutter spoons over brush or the tops of humps is also a good pattern, especially if you are targeting the larger fish. You may also want to try fishing the flutter spoons around docks. Pitching a spoon into an open slip or around the seawalls will also account for some nice fish. 

With the water cooling look for some fish to be moving onto shallow structures in the creek backs. With plenty of water in the lake there is an abundance of good cover. Blown down trees, docks, and secondary points may all hold fish, and you may find a few nice Largemouths mixed in with the Spotted Bass! 

Good Fishing!

Capt. Mack 

 

Lake Lanier Fishing Report-September 11, 2020

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Lake and fishing conditions were mostly stable last week, however the lake level did fall slightly, 1070.90 as of Thursday evening,  that is .10 feet below full pool, and down .26 feet from last week at this time. This is the first time the lake has dropped below full pool since February 1st of this year! The surface temp was 81 degrees. Next week’s extended forecast calls for more seasonally appropriate weather, and we should see low temps in the 60’s and highs in the low 80’s, good fishing weather!

The Striper Bite has been similar to last week, with last week’s patterns still in play and a couple of new ones that are in the picture now that we are moving into fall. The umbrella bite is still very good, pulling the full size rigs over main lake humps, or contour trolling over ridges and along the bank has been a consistent producer. The only changes I see in this pattern is the depth, the fish are using a greater depth range with more fish holding on the humps  from 25 feet down to a 45 foot bottom.  You may need to fish the rig a little further behind the boat, 140 to 150 feet  as opposed to 110 to 120. I also found that RPM changes or kicking the boat out of gear and dropping the rig into the fish would get a few extra bites. Fishing rigs with underspins may be a plus, or adding a couple of underspin jigs the existing rig may also be worth a few extra bites. This bite will work all day, but I think is strongest from mid morning on. 

The other method that is consistent is fishing live baits in the pockets, with the fish pushing back into water as shallow as 35 feet. Live bait has been the big producer here, and a jigging spoon may be a good compliment to the live baits, bringing in a couple of bonus bites from Striper and Spotted Bass. This pattern may also work all day, but I think is best from sunup until 9:30 or so, which fits in nicely with the above mentioned trolling pattern. 

Some other techniques that you may want to consider are fishing dock lights after sunset or before sunup, and be prepared for the schooling fish which are showing up more frequently. The schooling fish are still very random, may show up anywhere or anytime, but I think the afternoon or evening offers the best opportunity. A Mini Mack or Magic Swimmer will be hard to beat for casting to the schoolers, but spoons, top waters, and buck tails will also get the bite if you can get the bait to them before they sound. There are enough fish on the humps and points that will take a topwater even when you don’t see them chasing bait. A big walking bait, Magic Swimmer or popper cast over humps and points will pull a few fish up to the surface. The dock lights are starting to produce some decent numbers, mostly smaller fish but the big ones will not be far behind as the water cools. Jerk baits, buck tails and live Herring will be the baits of choice for the lights. On the shallower lights, the Herring may not survive well on the pitch line so change them out often. 

The bass bite is pretty typical for this time of year, you may have to work for your bites, and the good news is the topwater bite has been somewhat energized in the last few days. In the early part of the day you can catch fish casting the top waters to shallow structures such as secondary points, shallow brush, and shallow humps. After the am bite is over, fishing the brush is still a great technique. Several baits are effective for this pattern and vary from day to day so make adjustments based on wind and the amount of sunshine. Walking baits and Chug bugs have been strong if you get a little help from the wind, Magic Swimmers, Spy Baits if the conditions are calm. This pattern is a numbers game, so think run and gun to make this work. Of course the drop shot is still a solid producer, an if the water is slick back the boat off of the brush and cast the drop shot as opposed to fishing it with a vertical presentation. 

There are a few Bass showing up on the dock lights, this pattern is ok and should improve with cooling water temps. Jerk baits and Flukes are likely choices to cast at the lights.  Another pattern that may not get you big numbers but may produce some really nice fish is casting to the marina seawalls. The bait of choice on the seawalls can be very varied, but top waters, flutter spoons, Spybaits, and jerk baits can all be effective. Like fishing the brush, the wind can often really enhance this bite, bigger more aggressive baits in the wind, smaller subsurface baits if the water is slick. 

Good Fishing!!

Capt. Mack

 

Lake Lanier Fishing Report-September 3, 2020

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Happy Labor Day weekend to all! Many questions about the annual Fall turnover, and has it started? I think yes, we have started the turnover process and fishing has reflected that. The Surface temps rose a couple degrees this week, up to 84. The lake level rained stable and was 1071.16,  Thursday evening, .16 feet above full pool. The long term forecast says if you can hang on through the weekend we’ll get a little cool down next week as high temps will be in the mid 80’s as opposed to the 90 degree weather we have experienced during much of August. 

Although the Striper bite changed drastically in the last few days, there are still a couple patterns that are very productive. A good game plan is to look for fish up in the pockets, as shallow as 30 feet, in the early morning, Then grab the umbrellas and start pulling over 25 to 30 foot points and humps for the remainder of the day, keeping watch for any surfacing fish you may run into.  The fish in the pockets will respond to a live bait, Herring on the down line or the pitch line, and I think the pitch bait is the better option. You’ll still need to change out the baits often, so keep them fresh to maximize the bite! 

The trolling technique i mentioned in the previous paragraph has been a very strong pattern in the last few days. This technique requires a great deal more effort and attention to detail than the open water trolling we experience during the Summer months. The primary pattern now is to pull the rig over 25 to 35 foot humps, the fish are piling up on these areas, often in big groups, and have been pretty quick to take the rig! The problem with this pattern is often the fish will be in really tight schools, right on the crest of the hill, but that makes for a small strike zone. Think in terms of a school of fish locked onto to the top of a hump, or a brush pile in an area the size of your boat. If you don’t get the rigs in that area you probably will not get the bite. Another point that is relevant to this technique is that the fish often leave after you catch one or two. Once you pull over the hump and get hooked up, you will often pull the whole group of fish off of the hump or point which means you can’t just keep circling over the same place over and over and continually catching fish. Generally, if you catch fish on a place, leave it alone and the fish will often return in 45 minutes to an hour, then you can return and catch a couple more.  

There is a lot of schooling activity, and I think we can break this down into two different patterns. In the early am, there are surfacing fish everywhere, but mostly single fish, or small groups of fish, that appear very randomly, and are up and down very quickly. They are hard to target, but if you can get a bait to them quickly they are catchable.  Flex-it Spoons are a good choice to cast at these fish, cast it slightly past the fish and if they are still on the surface, reel the spoon across the top of the eater. If the fish are no longer on the surface, reel it up to where you last saw the activity, and then allow the spoon to sink on a tight line. Having the spoon tied on is also plus because you can drop it to any deep fish you see while soaking the Herring. Vertically jigging the spoon should get you a couple of bonus bites from Stripers, Spots and an occasional Channel Catfish. 

The second pattern is casting to the big schools of fish that are starting to show up more  frequently. These fish are much easier to catch, I would pick the Mini Mack as the Number one bait of choice, but top waters, spoons, Steelshads and Flukes will also get the bite. The schoolers may show up anywhere, at anytime, and the activity is probably best in the afternoon and evening hours. This pattern may improve, or at least you should expect to see more surfacing fish, as the water cools more towards the middle of the month. 

The Bass have certainly been moving with the advent of the changing water conditions, so versatility is key. There are fish all over 25 foot humps and points, and those areas with a nice pile of brush will be a plus. Finding fish on those areas has been easy, catching them…well that  will vary from day to day. A topwater remains a viable choice, wind and lowlight may make this pattern a little stronger, and your favorite walking bait may get the attention of the bigger fish. Jigs around some of the humps and the brush may not produce the numbers that the drop shot will, but like the top waters it may catch the bigger fish. Spybaits, jerk baits and casting Spoons are also good choices. 25 feet seems to be a really good number right now, with a few fish deeper, but the numbers decrease as you get into 35 to 40 feet. 

Like the Stripers, there are plenty of bass pushing bait to the surface. They are catchable if you can get to them, and make a really good cast when you do. Often these fish are so focused on one bait, or one school of bait that it is hard to get the fish to lock in on what is tied to your line. As a general rule, if you can make the bait land in the rings the fish made when it surfaced, you have a good shot at getting the bite, outside that ring, good luck. 

Don’t rule out night fishing as an option right now. Fishing around the lights has been producing some good catches, and fishing the humps at night can also be produce well. Humps from 12 to 20 feet are a good place to target, and a worm on the shakey or a Texas Rig can be very effective. If nothing else it is a good way to beat the heat and the expected Labor day Crowds! 

Good Fishing!!

Capt. Mack

Lake Lanier Fishing Report-August 28, 2020

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Things are changing quickly, both from a weather and a fishing standpoint. The lake surface temp is 82 degrees, which is about 6 degrees cooler than the norm for this date.  The lake level dropped slightly this week to a current level of 1071.15, .15 feet above full pool. The fishing conditions are also changing, and the patterns and techniques are taking on characteristics that would be more typical of late Sept. With fish moving and scattering out, versatility will be a big plus for Bass and Stripers! We will have the September Full Moon on the 1st, occurring just after sunset. 

The Striper bite has changed dramatically in the last few days, with fewer fish in deep water, and fewer fish roaming over deep water areas. There are good numbers of fish setting up on the humps and points around 35 feet deep, but they have been finicky on some days and hard to catch. The fish are acting like they do when the lake begins the turnover process, and although that usually begins in September, we may be seeing an early turnover this year? With all that in mind, here are some patterns to try. Many of there fish are over a 35 to 40 foot bottom,  on points, humps on flats. A live Herring on the down rod is a good choice for this pattern, and a mix of free lines and down lines will be your best bet. Drumming may be a plus to pull them and keep them under the boat, and down sizing your line size may also be a big plus. The Herring that are available in local shops have been good baits lately, but you will still need to check them often and keep good baits on the hook to maximize the bite. 

Trolling is till a very relevant pattern, single jigs and Mini’s on the lead core and/or down riggers,  or flat lining the full size umbrellas over a 30 to 40 foot bottom targeting humps, points, or contour trolling.  There are still a few fish roaming over open water areas, especially where bait is present, not the numbers we have seen in recent weeks but enough get hooked up now and then, and if you are diligent this is a constant pattern. Just keep moving until you get get n an area where you are markup fish, tweak the depth, and you should get a few fish hooked up. Jigs spoons, and Minis are still the preferred bait, 8 colors behind the boat (about 275 feet out counting the leader if you are using the line counter)has been constantly producing fish, but the depth is very subject to change with the fish moving like they are. 

The third pattern technique to watch is schooling fish. While this has been sporadic, there are some schoolers showing up, very randomly, but it is frequent enough that you need to be prepared. What is the best bait to cast to them? Sebile Magic Swimmers, Mini Macks, and buck tails are all good choices for the surfacing fish. 

The Bass bite has been fair, with the fish starting to really scatter out. The 20 to 30 foot brush is probably the best overall pattern and will be effective all over the lake. The recent weather patterns that have brought cooler water temps and frequent cloud cover have somewhat energized the topwater bite, especially with there is wind to help it out. Walking baits and poppers may coerce some fish out of the brush, follow that up with something sub surface, Flukes and Spy baits will be good choices. In terms of numbers, the worm and drop shot/Weedless Wonder combos are still the best overall producer.  

Deeper structures are also producing some fish, bluff areas where the channel swings up against the bank, timber edges, and deeper humps, with the humps being a fairly consistent pattern.  Fishing the deeper humps may not catch you a bunch of fish, partially because it is slow and tedious when you are fishing big structures that are deep. Many of these humps have a pretty big surface area that can hold fish and it takes a while to saturate these types of areas with worms and jigs . Try and locate any anomaly like a flat or point coming off of the high spot, or any other type of structure. Brush is always a good, but may or may not be present on humps deeper than 35 feet. If there is no brush, look for natural cover. Small rock outcroppings, a ledge, or just a couple of stumps, will often be enough cover to be a home for a few Spotted Bass! 

Good Fishing!!

Capt. Mack