Lake Lanier Fishing Report – September 2023
Lanier: Level: 3.4 feet below 1071. Temp: Low 80s. Clarity: Clear.
Bass: Jimbo Mathley with Jimbo’s Lake Lanier Spotted Bass Guide Service reports, “A traditional September on Lake Lanier offers anglers many choices of approach. This September on Lake Lanier should be no different. The lake has been around full pool most of the year, and we may go into September down 3 to 4 feet, barring a major storm hitting our area. The water temperatures have been normal to lower than normal for late summer, so the traditional late-summer patterns should be in play. Often during these kinds of conditions, you can find fish very deep, as well as very shallow, and some in between. Let’s look at the options for fishing Lanier this September and how to approach catching bass in this key transitional month in these different locations. Understand that the primary concern of both gamefish and baitfish are oxygen and food source, in that order. During a normal September, the ‘comfort zone’ of both the baitfish and spotted bass become multi-faceted. In September, we often find spotted bass in three different types of locations: 1: Very deep (30 to 50 feet) off the ends of humps and points, relating to timber lines. 2: Very shallow in the backs of creeks and creek arms in major tributaries around the lake or shallow on rocky bluff walls. 3: Suspended in the mouths of major creeks around brush in 25 to 40 feet of water, as well as deeper pockets near the main lake. Now that we understand where we can find them, let’s look at some of the tools we can use to catch them in each of the above situations. A drop shot is a great tool to target deep fish. This presentation can be made vertically into cover or it can be cast toward the target and slowly retrieved. I like the Lanier Baits drop-shot worms. Light line is a must. I prefer 6- to 8-lb. test Seaguar AbrazX. Light line helps provide a more natural presentation and will garner more strikes and the AbrazX’s resilient features make it a must for fishing around cover. Georgia Blade spoons can be a great option this time of year. Both their smaller spoons and their Flutter Spoons can be very effective. Experiment with the presentation once you have located the fish. Some sort of rip/pause or fast reel/pause cadence should do the trick with the Flutter Spoon. When using the smaller spoon, a lift/drop combo can be effective. Their mood and the presentation required to catch them will vary daily with conditions. Look around timber lines and treetops near the mouths of creeks on the ends of long, running, slow tapering points. While Lanier is not necessarily known as a buzzbait lake, this can be a very effective tool in both shallow-water situations discussed above. Make your retrieve an erratic one and present around cover where possible in addition to steep, rocky banks early in the morning. I like the Georgia Blade choices for a buzzbait. Check out all the options at Hammond’s Fishing. A Georgia Blade spinnerbait is an old favorite that can be deadly around flooded shoreline cover, shallow docks and blowdown trees, as well as shallow on steeper, rocky banks. Try the new offerings from Georgia Blade. They offer a nice variance of bait sizes and blade types to fit any situation. When fishing a crankbait shallow in the fall, opt for a shallow- to medium-diving plug and work the same areas as you would the spinnerbait. Try the Berkley Bad Shad and Frittside crankbaits. Both of these are winners! When the fish are not chasing, don’t be afraid to pitch Berkley Power Worms on a Texas rig or jig head and/or Georgia Jigs to the flooded shoreline cover. This can be a very effective technique to catch fish with a smaller strike zone. Georgia Jigs rule! When the water starts to cool, the topwater action can be awesome. Look around man-made brush on offshore structure, such as humps and points, for fish that are hanging out. Topwater baits such as a Berkley Cane Walker and Drift Walker can be an excellent to catch these fish—and a lot of fun, too! If the fish are resistant to the full topwater offerings, try ripping a fluke over brush—that can be a killer, as well. The Georgia Blade Shad Spin is an excellent producer on Lanier. Fish the bait at the depth you see the fish suspending near bait balls. Understand the fall rate for your rig and count the bait down to the depth of the fish and maintain that depth. A jerkbait is another great tool for targeting suspending fish. Choose a bait that suspends at the depth the fish are holding and experiment with your retrieve cadence until you zero in on what the fish are looking for on any given day. Try the Berkley Stunna for your jerkbait—some great action and color choices are available. Finally, a spy bait has become a popular choice for targeting suspended fish in the recent years. It is a great option when the fish are not hitting your topwater or jerkbait presentations, or in low-wind conditions. Cast this bait out, count it down to 10, and then begin a very slow retrieve. This technique is the epitome of finesse fishing. Slow and methodical is the key. I like the Duo Realis offerings in the G-Fix 80 size, which you can purchase at Hammond’s Fishing or through Lanier Baits.” For more on fishing with Jimbo, go to https://jimboonlanier.com.
Stripers: Capt. Ron Mullins reports, “Summer fishing has been great, and there are still some big schools to be found. Catching stripers will be best this month trolling lead core or using your Cannon downriggers using the Super Spin Shad, Striper Spin or the Mini Mack. The Super Spin Shad in 1.5- or 2-oz. sizes will be the better choice for lead-core trolling, and the 1-oz. heads will be the ticket when using your Cannon downriggers. The white/white and the chartreuse/chartreuse are the colors to go with. On sunny days, the white will be the better color, and on cloudier days the chartreuse will typically be the better choice. The 1.5-oz. Captain Mack’s underspin bucktail in white/silver or white/chartreuse and the Mini Mack with blades with red heads and white grubs will be the choices for these lures. All three of these baits should be pulled behind the boat at 2.5-3 mph and seven to nine colors back, depending on the depth that you are marking fish on your Humminbird graph. Each color represents approximately 2.5 feet of depth for the Super Spin Shad and Striper Spins and approximately 3.5 feet when pulling the Mini Mack. Most of the fish will be scattered on the sides and down the middle of all the creek channels from Big Creek south to the dam in 60 to 130 feet of water. Start looking at where the creek channel intersects the river channel to one-third of the way back up into the creek. These intersections are extremely easy to see on your Humminbird Solix or Helix when you are using LakeMaster, the greatest map software out there. They will also be on the river channel from 100 to 150 feet. When you catch a fish, keep your eye on your graph. When you stop the boat to bring your fish in, a lot of times the whole school will follow and then you can drop a live herring or chrome/silver flash Boss Hawg Spoon to them for an extra bite. Stopping the boat also helps you get the fish in quicker and is better on the fish’s stress. The best part of trolling is that you are actually fishing most of the time you are out instead of just driving around looking for fish that are scattered around the lake. There are quite a few fish that are showing up on 35-foot humps in the same areas that will be easier to target with the Captain Mack u-rig. Pull these rigs at the speeds mentioned, but only run the rigs 120 to 140 feet behind the boat. These fish will typically show up later in the day, so start checking these areas if you are not seeing the fish on the channels as much. Again, LakeMaster will make finding these humps easy, as you can use it to highlight certain depth areas with shading that shows just those depth ranges. You can also keep up easier with the lake level drops as it will ‘redraw’ the topo lines as you adjust the lake level throughout the year. The bait bite will still be good when you find concentrations of fish, and the only changes from August will be to concentrate in 90 to 140 feet of water and to increase leader length to 9 to 11 feet of 10-lb. fluorocarbon leader. The herring are not living well on the hook below 30 feet, so make sure you take plenty of bait if you are going to concentrate on this bite. Make sure you choose the important over the immediate. Lots of things always come up in our lives and we are tempted to think that they important by the enemy, but they are not. The more we rush and run, the less we can be like Christ by being loving, caring, and grace filled. Focus on the things that are really important in your life. Christ, spouse, kids, family are these things, and when you do, the immediate things in your life will be easier to deal with.” For more on fishing with Ron, go to https://thestriperexperience.com.
Capt. Clay Cunningham reports, “After a hot August, it is almost time for some fall here on Lanier. As long as the weather stays hot, look for the stripers to stay deep on the south end of the lake feeding on herring. Deep this year is not as deep as normal. Most of the fish are 30 to 40 feet deep. We are catching almost no fish past 50 feet. The fish are pinched in the water column, so release the fish fast as possible to reduce mortality. The last few weeks, lead-core line has been the best tactic as the fish are pinched at the 30- to 40-foot range. Lead core is a weighted line you pull behind the boat. It is color coded to help you dictate your depth. On the end of the lead-core line, tie a 30- to 50-foot piece of 20-lb. Trilene 100% fluorocarbon tipped with a white Berkley Fusion bucktail or a Captain Mack’s white Chipmunk Jig. You need a wide selection of these bucktails from 1 to 2 ounces. Some days they will key in on a particular jig or color. White and chartreuse will be the primary colors in the bucktails. Tip the bucktail with a 4-inch chartreuse Captain Mack’s Shad Body as a starting point. Every bait store around the lake has these bucktails and Shad Bodies. Be sure to purchase several colors of the Shad Bodies, as well. Some days a certain color will outperform other colors due to numerous factors like cloud cover. The Captain Mack’s Shad Bodies are fairly cheap, so purchase several colors to be prepared for changing weather conditions. If lead core is not an option for you, stay with the downline. With the right electronics, like the Humminbird Solix Series, you can see the fish feeding through the schools of bait and biting your herring on the hook. To catch these fish deep, you need a Carolina-type rig using a Captain Mack’s Swivel Sinker, a 6-foot piece of Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon leader material and a 1/0 Gamakatsu Octopus straight-eye hook. The key rod is a medium-light Shakespeare Ugly Stick Striper Rod paired with a Penn Fathom 15 Linecounter reel. When you are all set up, hook the herring right between the nostrils and drop them right above the schools of stripers on your electronics. I can see the Captain Mack’s Swivel Sinker and the bait swimming around on the hook. You can even many times see the fish come up from the bottom and call the strike before it happens. Rely on your electronics for success right now. If you do not see fish on your unit, do not stop the boat to fish. Lastly, late September the weather will begin to cool off. Be sure to have several topwater rods loaded with topwater baits and swimbaits for any early topwater. Baits like a Berkley Canewalker, Berkley J-Walker and the Berkley Magic Swimmer are essentials. Day in and day out, the Berkley Magic Swimmer is the most consistent performer. We really expect the topwater to take off early this year. A great casting reel like the Abu Garcia Revo makes the difference. With the large number of fishermen on Lanier, a little extra distance makes a difference. See you on the water.” For more on fishing with Clay, go to www.catchingnotfishing.com.
Crappie: Capt. Josh Thornton reports, “When crappie fishing, you need to determine your goals for the day. If you’re looking for larger, tournament-quality fish, you should be looking for individual roaming fish rather than a tree full of them. Livescope can help you pinpoint the roaming fish in order to present them with your bait. If you’re looking for a cooler full of fish, find a dock holding fish or submerged brush and use both minnows and jigs. Trolling jigs in coves with creeks or channels running through them is also a good option for a relaxing day. When it comes to bait, use small baits and slow action and target shaded areas. Use live, small minnows straight down with a split-shot or small jigs with a slow retrieval for the best results. In terms of timing, fishing during early morning or late evening when the temperature is slightly cooler is recommended. Crappie are known to be deep, so concentrate on 15 feet deep over a 25- to 40-foot bottom, but don’t be afraid to look a lot deeper. Look for docks near a channel. The gear I recommend for crappie fishing is ACC Crappie Stix one-piece rod and reel with a 6-lb. test K9 line, along with Garmin LiveScope and Power-Pole. For more information and tips, please visit my websites www.crappieonlanier.com and www.fishingwitheverydayheroes.org and like my pages!”
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