Lake Lanier Fishing Report – November 2021

GON Staff | October 29, 2021

Lanier: Level: Full pool. Temp: 71-74 degrees. Clarity: Turnover is in varied stages throughout the lake, and water clarities are clear to weak coffee colored, depending on how hard the turnover is in the area you are at.

Bass: Guide Jimbo Mathley, of Jimbo’s Spotted Bass Guide Service, reports, “Many anglers make the common mistake of underestimating the viability of late fall and winter fishing. While the outside elements are not always favorable, a month like November on Lake Lanier can offer anglers some of the best fishing of the year. Ditch fishing is often the approach upon which I focus, yet there are many options in a transitional month like November—so, stay flexible! As you pursue different patterns this month, stay versatile as weather fronts will affect the location and mood of the catchable fish. Don’t forget to look shallow around points and humps both on the main lake and in the major creeks, in addition to the smaller creek runs. A Georgia Blade spinnerbait on windy days can be incredible this time of year fished shallow on points, as can be a large crankbait, like a Spro Little John DD. The Spro Rock Crawler is a great choice for a smaller crankbait.  Also a big swimbait, like the Sweet Bait Sweet Herring, can be an excellent choice for a big catch. As we proceed with this report, I will address more of how to approach once the water gets around 60 degrees, which may or may not happen in November this year. Oftentimes, if you find a shallow ditch (15 feet or less) in a creek, you will find baitfish present in and around this ditch. Bass will show up and feed in these areas, particularly in low-light conditions, even in the dead of winter. Slow-rolling a Georgia Blade Shad Spin or slow cranking a crankbait in these areas at daylight is a great way to take some huge spots throughout the late fall and winter, especially as the water drops below 60 degrees. Present a Spro jerkbait over these same areas for bites, as well. Cast your jerkbait long distances over the ditch, and work the bait back to the boat with a jerk-jerk-pause retrieve. Include long pauses of up to 10 seconds between jerks. Also, ensure that you jerk the bait on slack line to improve the erratic action of the bait, which will trigger more strikes. The key to this technique is patience. Long pauses can be important as well, so stay patient. Many of the same definitions and techniques will still apply to deeper ditches, but there are some key differences. When you search for these deeper ditches (25 to 50 feet deep), start by following the shallow ditches out to deeper water. Once you have moved to the deeper part of the ditch, use your Humminbird or Garmin electronics to look for cover within or around the ditch that may offer an ambush spot for bass. Always remember that bass are predatory and constantly seek an advantage through a point of ambush. Structure changes, such as a ditch, along with ancillary structure/cover such as brush or standing timber, offer a refuge for baitfish, as well as an ambush position for the bass. If you can find an area with a ditch, standing timber, brush and key feature changes, such as an outside channel bend intersected by a roadbed in 40 feet of water or so, you have found the perfect winter haunt of the bait and our green-backed friends. Good electronics, such as Humminbird Helix in conjunction with Garmin Panoptix, are vital to finding these subtle depth changes and cover. Once you find a location like this holding fish, start by dropping a jigging spoon down to the location of the fish.  Allow the spoon to sink to the bottom and then real it two cranks up before beginning your presentation. Jig the spoon with quick, short, upward thrusts of the rod and include pauses in your presentation. Let the fish tell you how they want the bait presented. Another option for these deep fish include a drop-shot rig. Rig a drop-shot with a small worm or minnow imitation and present the bait in the area of the fish. Do not over-work the bait. Often periods of no movement can trigger strikes. I prefer the many offerings of Lanier Baits for these presentations. Steeper rock banks consistently hold fish during the late fall and winter months. These vertical banks, present both in the creeks as well as the main lake, offer the fish the ability to change depths within the water column without traveling very far. This provides an optimal situation for the fish whose metabolism and activity levels are slowed by the colder water. Begin by using your electronics to graph a likely area in search of bait. When you find the bait, you can rest assure that fish are somewhere in the area. Search for changes in the structure as your starting place. Look for points, pockets, contour changes or transition areas where sand meets rock or clay, for example. Begin your prospecting in these areas with a Spro jerkbait, such as a McStick. Impart the jerk-jerk-pause retrieve mentioned previously, with a focus on long pauses. If the fish are not active enough to hit the jerkbait, try worms or Georgia Jigs worked slowly down the rock bank. Position your boat in deeper water and cast toward the bank. Work the bait slowly and methodically back to the boat, paying particular attention to your lure’s movements. Bites in the late fall and winter are often very subtle. Once you detect something unusual in your lure’s action, set the hook. While these areas are not the only possible places to find fish on Lake Lanier in the late fall, they are some very good areas to begin your search. Remember to look for bait and fish in an area before fishing it—fish where the fish are. Good luck out there, and see you on the water.”

Stripers: Capt. Ron Mullins, of the Striper Experience, reports, “November fishing will be good on both the north and south end of the lake since the fish have scattered lake wide with the ever increasing good water quality as the lake remixes with more consistent water temperatures and dissolved oxygen contents. Kitchen sink fishing continues this month. The south end (below Highway 369 bridge) will be dominated by topwater activity, mid lake (Highway 369 to the Highway 60 and Highway 136 bridges) will be downlines mostly, and the north end (river areas of the lake) will be flatlines and planer boards. On the south the first couple hours and last couple hours of the day will see more and more topwater activity as the lake cools into the 60s. Be ready to chase schools of fish that will be coming up from Orr Creek all the way to the dam. Keep a good pair of binoculars at the helm so that you can scan the lake looking for big groups of stripers blowing up on shad and herring. The Captain Mack’s Jr. Hawg spoon in nickel or nickel/silver scale when the sun is out, or pearl and pearl/silver scale when it is overcast, will be great lures to throw at these schools. It will cast a mile on an Okuma 7- or 7.5-foot Reflection medium/heavy action rod paired with an Okuma Helios SX 4000 loaded with 30-lb. braid. Use about 3 feet of 17-lb. Seaguar Tatsu Fluorocarbon as a leader. These fish will start to concentrate on smaller shad as the month goes along, so switch over to a Captain Mack’s white/silver scale or white/blue scale Super Spoon in 3/8- or 1/2-oz. size when this occurs. Captain Mack’s Mini Mack will also be a great lure to throw at these schooling fish. Mid lake will continue to be a downline bite in 40 to 60 feet of water halfway back in all the major creeks with small trout and herring being the go-to bait. Shorten up your leaders to 3 to 4 feet of 10-lb. Tatsu and a No. 2 Gamakatsu circle hook. The river systems will produce a few bigger fish this month if you are willing to pull big baits (10- to 15-inch gizzards or trout) and spend some time doing it. This month try to work on these other three things. Be humble, love instead of judge and focus on the kingdom. If we all would do these three things, we would all be better. If you get the opportunity, read James 4.” 

Capt. Clay Cunningham, of Catching Not Fishing Lake Lanier Guide Service, reports, “Fall is here and the stripers are starting to school on top. Still some debris from the lake being full, but it is only a concern if you are out at night. Look for some of these schools to be very large in size on the stripers. You may see them from several hundred yards away. All types of topwater baits will work, but each day a different one will be the key choice. Two key baits are the Berkley Magic Swimmer and the Berkley J-Walker. Spool up a Penn Clash II 4000 or Penn Pursuit III 4000 spinning reel with 12-lb. Trilene Big Game line on a 7-foot medium-heavy Abu Garcia Veritas spinning rod, and you are good to go. The south end of the lake is usually best, but so far this fall the fish have been widely spread throughout the lake. If you want to use live bait, pull some freelines, which are simply baits with no weight 100 feet behind the boat tipped with a blueback herring. All you need is a Shakespeare Striper Rod paired with a Penn Fathom II Linecounter reel spooled with 15-lb. Trilene Big Game line and a 1/0 Gamakatsu Octopus hook. The herring will do the rest. Pull the herring across humps and points or around schooling fish and you will catch stripers and spotted bass. Looking forward to the most exciting fishing of the year this November. See you on the water.”

Crappie: Capt. Josh Thornton reports, “Minnows are the first choice of the crappie right now. The jigs I have success with this time of year are dark blue over silver or dark purple with a chartreuse tail. I am setting the minnows 8 to 10 feet deep over shallow brush. Look for covered docks that have brush under or nearby. A good depth range would be 20 to 30 feet of water and near a main channel. Use your electronics to locate structure or brushpiles. Crappie love the shade, so cast into the shadows. When dock shooting, the biggest fish are usually the first to bite. Let your jig sink and give it time to get down to the fish and retrieve your jig slowly. I’m using ATX Lure Company plastics. I use 5-lb. test high-visibility yellow braid for my line (unless I am using a bobber) and a Piscifun reel on an ACC Crappie Stix. I use Garmin LiveScope and the Navionics Boating app. Find me on Facebook and like my pages @crappieonlanier and @fishingwitheverydayheroes.”

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