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Outdoors: Summertime fishing patterns prevail
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Forsyth County News

Lake Lanier’s water level remains steady at 1,070.58 or .42 below a full pool of 1,071. Lake temperatures remain steady in the mid-80s.

Lake Lanier is clear on the main lake and clear in the rivers and creeks. The Chattahoochee River is clear below Buford Dam. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass: This week, bass fishing has varied from slow to very good. Timing seems to be the key. There has been a decent shallow bite for largemouth around bream beds but that has slowed down as the full moon wanes.

The largemouth have been shallow in the pockets and in the creeks in the morning and toward the evening.

They are moving out deeper in these same areas during the day, unless bream beds are present, in which case they may stay shallow all day long. Use surface prop baits during the mornings and evenings. Switch to a deep-diving crank bait or a Carolina Rigged Lizard during the heat of the day.

Spotted bass are relating to deeper brush and also shallower brush near deep dropoffs on the lake. The best areas seem to be close to the main lake. Also cast a line in the mouths of the creeks, as well as areas in the creeks and the rivers that are near channel bends with man-made cover.

The topwater action has been very good at times but, as mentioned, timing is everything. I made the mistake of telling a fellow angler how good the action was, only to head out for the better part of the day with only a few small keepers to show for it.

Then the next day, the fishing was on fire. Go figure. That is why they call it fishing and not catching. If catching fish on a topwater plug or swim bait is what you are after, then run and gun the creek mouths and main-lake brush piles.

Make a few casts over and around the brush. Then move to the next area. If the bass are catchable on the surface, they will let you know within the first handful of casts. V-Wake a BBZ1 four-inch Floating Shad, or walk a Sammy or chug bug and experiment with the retrieve. Some days the bass want it walked slow and steady.

Most days a fast erratic retrieve has worked best.

You can probably get by with three rods on the deck this week.

One rod with a topwater plug like a Super Spook, Chug Bug, Sammy or a floating BBZ1 four-inch shad swim bait.

One rod with a dropshot rig or a shaky head rigged a Big Bites Cane Stick in green and pearl. The Cane Stick in this color combination looks like a native spot tail minnow. The last rod with SPRO McRip, Little John DD or a Fish Head Spin with Wayne’ Baits Freshwater Goby.

These rods and lures will cover the water column from surface to bottom and will allow you to switch tactics between the times when bass are very active, to when they are inactive, and all scenarios in between.

Running and gunning has been a gamble and is awesome when the fish are feeding but this tactic has also backfired when the fish are inactive. It’s hard to make a few casts and then move to the next area over and over.

Trust me, when you collide with an active school of big spotted bass, the slow times will quickly be replaced with a fishing story and pictures that will be envied by your fishing friends.

I have won bass tournaments with only five bites in an 8 hour day but you have to be patient to keep your confidence up. A few big fish can quickly replace the boredom from long periods of inactivity.

The photos you show will make people think you whacked them all day long.

To successfully run and gun, it is a good idea to pick a route that follows a path and fish brush piles, docks or other fish holding cover that have a history of recent success.

If you fish an area that has historically been good but do not catch fish, it may be a good idea to cycle back through at a different time in the day. Spotted bass will move around as they chase blueback herring, spot tails and shad.

For anglers that prefer a slower pace, some of the deeper docks in the creeks always hold fish. Simply set down your trolling motor and fish a line of docks that have deep water close by. You can cast or skip a soft-plastic jerk bait like a Zoom Fluke or Big Bites Jerk Shad near the docks.

Also do the same with a finesse worm on a Gamakatsu Alien Head or another brand of 1/8-to 1/4-ounce jig head. A lot of bass will hang out under the dock floats. These fish will strike the jerk baits or follow the jig head worms as they sink.

In addition to the bass suspending under the floats, some bass will position around the gang planks. Others will hide in brush on the bottom. Make sure to let your jig head worms deep, and work them on the bottom to catch bass that are lower in the water column.

Last but certainly not least, the most productive method to catch bass right now during the summer heat is to fish with live spot tail minnows. If you are good at throwing a net, you can easily catch these native minnows with a small mesh cast net and some cracker crumbs or grits.

Scatter the crumbs or grits around sandy areas or boat ramps and the spot tail minnows should appear in minutes.

Then cast your net and load up the live well. If you are not great at using a cast net, you can learn by watching YouTube Videos and practicing in the front yard. Most local bait stores sell the smaller mesh nets that will work best.

You can also use a minnow trap that some stores sell. Use a small Gamakatsu Circle or Octopus hook rigged on a drop shot rig. Hook the spot tails through the mouth and drop them down around cover, especially brush piles to catch bass, catfish and stripers. If you do not catch a fish in the first 15 minutes, then move and find a better area.

Stripers: The summer patterns are working well.

The stripers are biting even in the heat of the day. The same patterns have been working well but this year the stripers have not gone extremely deep yet. They will move deeper as the warmer weather moves in.

Some of the fish are biting over deep water but these fish are suspended or swimming in the 30-50 feet range over timber in 60-90 feet of water.

Your electronics are key tools for a successful day of striper fishing. Stripers eat blueback herring in the hotter months, so if you find the schools of herring the stripers should be close by. I leave my Side Imaging on my Humminbird set at 100 feet so I am scanning a 200-foot wide area.

Schools of herring show up as clouds or balls. You can often see small white specs that indicate larger predator fish like bass or stripers.

At the 100-foot setting, these marks are smaller than most people would imagine but you can really see the fish well if you are directly over them with Down Imaging.

These fish will look like elongated foot balls in Down Imaging mode or they will show up like arcs or spaghetti in traditional 2D mode. When you see these tell tail signs on your screen you should be over catchable fish.

Use a down line with a two-ounce egg sinker and swivel with a long fluorocarbon leader. Also use a 4/0 Gamakatsu Circle or Octopus hook. The long fluorocarbon leader will really help to catch ‘line shy’ stripers.

Many of the guides rig a 6-12 foot leader to allow the bait to be as far away from the sinker as possible.

The two-ounce sinker allows your blueback herring to sink quickly thought the mid-80 degree water. They hit the cooler water around and below the thermocline. The thermocline has set up around 25-30 feet deep right now.

Trolling is also working well right now. I always mention it is a great way to cover water when looking for schools of stripers for down-line fishing.

You can troll using lead core line or a Cannon Down Rigger. The down riggers allow you to control the depth precisely, no matter what speed you’re moving. These tools also allow you to use just about any lure you wish.

A swim bait or jerk bait are both great choices. Longer, skinnier lures that mimic blueback herring are your best bet on Lake Lanier. Troll these lures from 2-3 mph. Let the fish strikes determine the best speed.

Trolling lead core line is a tried-and-true method too but it works best with lures like buck tail jigs or umbrella rigs.

You can also use regular line with different sized Umbrella rigs and buck tails. Lead core allows you to use the size jigs or rigs that you want to. Unlike with a down rigger, lead core trolling is a science that you have to learn.

Right now, start with your lead core set out to seven or eight colors. Troll a two-ounce SPRO Buck Tail with a Hyper Tail and move as slow as possible from 1 1/2-2 mph. Umbrella rigs equipped with 3/4-ounce SPRO or Captain Macs Bucktails in white are also working well for stripers this week.

Crappie: Not many reports on crappie fishing, so I assume it is slow.

Fish the bridges after dark and use live spot tail minnows or store bought crappie minnows on down lines below floating or Hydroglow lights.

Wahoo Creek, Little River, Two-Mile Creek and Six-Mile Creek all have good populations of crappie, bream and even the bonus Walleye that will bite. Take it from me: if you catch a walleye, plan to take it home for dinner.

Nothing much beats a crappie fish fry. However, walleyes fried up in corn meal will change even a tried-and-true crappie connoisseurs mind.

Trout fishing remains very good. When the weather is hot, plan a float trip down your favorite trout river.

Rivers below North Georgia Lakes, like Lanier and Blue Ridge have awesome tail race trout fishing below the dams.

The water coming from the bottom of these lakes is often 55-60 degrees. This cold water acts like natural air conditioning for anglers, plus they support large populations of trout.

The fishing and catching can also be pretty good.

North Georgia streams also offer trout anglers a cooler than normal day. Some streams get very little pressure and the trout will bite well all day long. This week, trout are biting worms where live bait is permitted, small inline spinners, Rapala Count Downs and dry flies very well.

Bank Fishing: The bream fishing this week has been great. Grab a Zebco 33, a light weight fly rod or a cane pole with a can of worms or crickets and go fishing. Bream are fun and easy to catch. Plus they are great to eat or to catch and release.

Bream are usually the first fish that most people catch. They are great to target especially for kids. Use light 4-8 pound test monofilament on a spinning or spin casting rod, with a small Aberdeen hook with a small split shot and a bobber or a small Rooster Tail and go catching.

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 visit his website at