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Outdoors: Summer patterns prevail
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Forsyth County News

Water conditions:Lake Lanier’s water level is 1.18 feet (1,072.18) over the normal full pool of 1,071. Lake Lanier’s water is clear on main lake and clear to stained in the creeks and rivers. Lake water temperatures are in the mid 80’s. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear. Please check generation schedules before heading out to the river @ 770-945-1466.

Bass:Fishing has remained pretty good and the spotted bass are settling into their deeper summertime areas. The fishing patterns seem to be about a month behind normal and are more in line with what we usually encounter in mid-June as opposed to late July or early August. The high water has also scattered the bass schools so you may have to run around to find the active schools. Some bass are moving deeper but there are still some being caught up shallower too. The good news is that when you find a school of fish you can usually settle down and work that area for multiple bites.

Start out your mornings by casting top water plugs, soft plastic jerk baits or large slender swim baits. These lures mimic the blue back herring that predator fish feed on A Zoom Fluke or Big Bites Jerk Shad are excellent choices for fooling active bass. Rig these soft plastic jerk baits with a large 5/0 Gamakatsu Super Line Hook. These hooks are heavier than regular ones and they allow your the lure to sink down a little while still allowing your lure to work on top of the surface with a fast retrieve.

Main lake points and humps may hold active fish early and late in the day and some of these same areas can produce fish throughout the day. Alternate between moving lures and slower drop shot or other worms and jigs depending on where you see the fish positioned on your graph. My Humminbird Graphs not only show fish but they also have a detailed Lake Master map which allows me to pinpoint the most productive areas. If I find that fish are holding on humps or points that crest at 10 to 15 feet deep I can go into my settings and highlight that same depth ranges in red and quickly see similar areas all over the lake.

Power fishing with moving lures has been working well for the bigger bass but we have caught the majority of fish this week with a drop shot on steep drop offs, rock and brush piles in water from 20 -35 feet deep. Try to make a milk run of brush piles and ledges that have both shallow and deep water close by.

I love to fish for bass directly below the boat with my Humminbird Graph but you can also have great success by casting a drop shot out into shallow water and stair stepping it down the ledges or through brush piles. This retrieve is very similar to fishing a Texas or Carolina rig. My drop shot rig consists of 12 pound test SX-1 Sunline Braid with a SPRO swivel and a 7-pound test Sniper Fluorocarbon leader. I use a #1 straight shank. Gamakatsu Hook with a Big Bites Shakin’ Squirrel and a quarter ounce tungsten skinny weight.

Lastly, the one method that can almost guarantee bass catching success is to use native spot tail minnows. You can chum grits or bread crumbs around the shore and attract an entire school of these small, native minnows. Take a cast net with a fine mesh and throw it over the spot tails to catch as many as you need for a day of fishing. You can also use a minnow trap. You can buy one at local tackle shops or surf on line for instructions how to make one. Hook these minnows through the lips on a drop shot rig and fish them around brush piles or drop offs close to the bank. It is not uncommon to catch 50 or more bass in an 8 hour day with these native bait fish.

Stripers:Striper fishing has been hit or miss this week. The fishing can be awesome but only if you locate and stay with the moving schools of active fish. The stripers have had a whole lot more water to move around in this year and that has made finding them a challenge. As is usually the case in summer your electronics are key tools for locating the stripers and the schools of blue back herring that they feed on.

There have been a lot of fish down deep in the creek mouths below Browns Bridge. Look for large flats that intersect with the creek and river channels. The prime flats have been 50 to 70 foot deep with timber next to creek and river channels that drop off into 70 to 100 foot or deeper. Pay close attention to where you mark large schools of herring. Stripers relate to this prime deep water food source. One of the reasons striper fishing is so good in summer on Lake Lanier is because the stripers and herring will bunch up in the lower cold layers of water.

Make sure to take great care of your bait with a quality bait with ice and salt. If your herring are not lively they will greatly hamper your catch rates. Use a 14 to 20 pound test main line with a 4-6 foot leader of 12 pound test fluorocarbon. Stripers can be line shy and fluorocarbon is almost invisible below the surface. Attach a heavy 1 to 2 ounce sinker to allow your live herring to quickly get down through the warmer surface layer. Set your down lines slightly above where you mark stripers on your graph. Fish usually look up but they seldom move downward to take a bait. You can also drop your live bait to the bottom then power reel it up through the schools to trigger reaction bites.

Trolling continues to be a great way to find active fish. Some anglers are having such good success with trolling that they are sticking with it all day long. Using a down rigger is a great way to control the depth your bait. You can use a variety of lures including buck tails, swim baits and even umbrella rigs. Set your down riggers to run about ten feet above where you mark fish and keep your trolling speeds around 2-2.5 miles an hour. Lead core is also a good method for trolling a lure in the prime strike zone. 30 foot deep is a good depth to start at and adjust your trolling depths accordingly.

Night fishing with lights has been very productive. This method allows anglers to bring the fish to you instead of having to move around as is the case during the day. Set out your lights and baits in the mouths of the creeks where the creek channels intersect with the river channel. The mouths of Big Creek, Six Mile and Flat creek are all great places to night fish.

Crappie: Crappie fishing is fair. Some anglers are catching them up in the rivers buy shooting jigs up under docks. Let your jigs fall on a slack line or let them pendulum through the water column. Live crappie minnows under lights after dark are also catching a few and this is a great way to beat the crowds and the summer heat.

Trout:Trout fishing has been very good this year and you can continue to use your favorite methods to catch a limit pretty quickly. Try fly fishing with dry flies in a black ant or small nymph patterns to match the insect hatches.

Spinning tackle with smaller inline spinners or a Yo Suri Pinns Minnow have been productive in the WMAs up in the mountains and also below Buford Dam.

Bank fishing:The old reliable Rooster Tail is a great lure to fish from the banks. These inexpensive, in line spinners will catch a variety of fish including brim, bass, crappie and just about any other fish that will strike a moving lure. Target banks that have rock close to deep drop offs or trees lying down in the water for great success.

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. Contact him at or