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Outdoors: Water levels, temperatures stable
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Forsyth County News

Water conditions: Lake Lanier’s water level is 1.02 feet (1,072.02) over the normal full pool of 1,071. Lake Lanier’s water is clear on the main lake and clear to stained in the creeks and rivers. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear. Lake temperatures are holding very steady in the lower 80s. Please check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass: Bass fishing this summer has been challenging. Usually in August the water temperatures are closer to 90 degrees and the bass have moved deep, but this year lake water temperatures have held steady in the lower 80s since June. The fish have also had a whole lot more water to move around in with the lake remaining consistently above full pool. Lake Lanier’s water quality appears to be very healthy and there are a lot of baitfish and brim hanging around the shallow shorelines so bass have not had to work too hard to find a meal.

Bass have been biting very well some days while on others they have been tougher to figure out. Keeping an open mind has been the key to successful fishing this summer. I have been keeping a constant eye on my Humminbird electronics and the changing conditions. We had trips this week where I barely burned a gallon of gas in my Nitro and caught 15 to 20 spotted bass in only a few hours only to return to these same areas the next day to find them seemingly devoid of any fish. Other days we have had to run and gun all day to find fish that would cooperate, but you can bet they are always biting somewhere on the lake.

Time of day and weather conditions have played a big role in how bass are reacting this summer. On windy mornings a deep diving crank around rocky points and humps has yielded some magnum spotted bass along with an occasional largemouth. Work SPRO Little Johns or Bill Norman Deep Diving crank baits around these areas and make sure your lure digs into the bottom. Some days a slow and steady retrieve has worked best, while on other days the bass have been reacting better to faster retrieves. Most of your strikes will occur as your lure deflects off of some kind of bottom feature like rocks and brush or when your lure starts to rise at the end of your cast. Once you catch a few bass target similar areas in other parts of the lake.

Our most consistent catches have come by working worms and subsurface lures around deeper drop offs that have shallow points or flats close by. Ideal areas are points near steep banks that fall off into deep water and also offshore drop offs and ledges with brush piles. Try to key in on the transition areas right between where the shallow and deep drop offs meet. If there are brush piles present then the bass should be near by. Bass like to position around these areas where they can ambush spot tail minnows, brim, shad or blue back herring. There’s a pretty well defined thermocline around 25 feet deep so this is a good depth to fish.

Top water plugs and swim baits have been producing OK on both calm and windy days during active feeding periods but this action has been a little harder to find consistently. It is a good idea to keep a surface lure handy in case the bass appear on the surface. Most of these surface feeding fish are feeding on larger shad and blue back herring so larger lures will work best if you are lucky enough to find fish feeding on top.

Stripers: Many factors come into play for a successful day of striper fishing. Mastering this type of fishing requires a signifcant investment. The right equipment including rods, reels, line and hooks are just a start. Quality electronics and the ability to understand and use them are extremely important, especially in summer when stripers tend to be deep. A reliable boat, proper bait tanks, down riggers or lead core for trolling and other factors all play a big role in becoming a successful angler. With all of that there is still no replacement for time spent on the water and that is a big reason why guides and other seasoned anglers can consistently catch fish. Reading articles and books, watching fishing shows and YouTube videos and researching other Internet sources can all increase your knowledge and ability to catch stripers. Last but not least, hiring a reputable guide is one of the best ways to quickly advance your angling skills.

Like the bass, stripers seem to be moving around and changing daily or even hourly this summer. You may have to look around but when you find the right conditions you can load the boat quickly. That being said even some of the best anglers are experiencing some off days and this year has made consistent catching a challenge.

The stripers are starting to show up more frequently in their summer time locations. They still do not seem to be as deep as is normal for this time of year but they are relating to flats and timber near the creek and river channels. There are many different reports coming from anglers so keep an open mind and let your electronics dictate the best depths and locations to fish.

My Humminbird graphs are showing a defined thermocline below Browns Bridge at around 25 feet deep. The water above that depth is warmer than most stripers prefer so plan on fishing from 25 to 50 feet deep or deeper this week. 30 to 50 feet is where I am marking the majority of stripers and the clouds of blue back herring schools. Once you locate these deeper fish setting a down line out around 30 to 40 feet deep is a good place to start. Adjust shallower or deeper to where you see fish on your screen.

A lot of the stripers are hanging around the top of submerged timber lines just off of pockets towards the mouths of the creeks and also around submerged timber closer to the river channels. Some stripers will be out over water that is 100 feet deep but will relate to the topped off timber at 35 to 50 feet deep while others are hanging just off flat bottoms without timber in the creeks where the bottom is 40 to 60 feet deep.

Always use quality fishing line when striper fishing for two reasons. Good line with a long fluorocarbon leader will increase your bites because stripers on Lanier can be very "line shy". They seem to be able to detect some thicker monofilament where fluorocarbon is almost invisible under water.  Plus you need quality line to be able to turn fish and get them out of the timber. No matter how good your line is if you fish enough you will lose some stripers in the timber.

A few anglers are catching some good numbers of fish by trolling large buck tails tipped with a live blue back herring or with SPRO Swim Baits with Cannnon Downriggers at 30 top 40 feet in the creek channels both above and below Browns Bridge. The river channels seem to be holding less fish than is normal for his time of year but if you spend some time trolling inside the creek mouths you may catch fish trolling. The afternoons have been better for catching stripers on moving lures. Trolling is also a great way to cover water and you can slow down and drop down lines once you catch a few or if you see fish on your electronics.

Crappie: Crappie fishing is best at night and they seem to be biting best later in the evening from 11:00 PM on into the early morning hours. Some anglers are catching them up in the rivers buy shooting jigs up under docks. Lighted boat docks back in the creeks are holding a few fish after dark. Drop live crappie or spot tail minnows on a small Aberdeen style hook with a small split shot crimped about a foot above the hook down to around 10 to 15 feet deep, Also try casting small crappie jigs around the shadows of the lights to catch crappie and other species that are drown to the bait that congregates around the lights.

Trout: Trout fishing remains good when water conditions are clear. The rains have made some of the streams a little muddy a times but when the clear fishing has been very good. Fly Fishing or spin casting with Rooster Tails and Coundown Rapalas are always good choices but it is hard to beat a small red wiggler or native earthworm. Earthworms are one of the trout’s favorite meals and trout seek out worms that are washed into the streams and rivers by all of the recent rain. Just make sure you are fishing in areas that allow live bait as some trout waters are designated for artificial lures only.

Bank fishing: The brim are everywhere around the banks both on Lake Lanier and in subdivision and farm ponds this year. Cooler than normal water temperatures are keeping these prolific pan fish up shallow where kids and adults can catch them all day long. A live cricket, earthworm or even small pieced or cheese or lunchmeat on a small aberdeen hook will catch these fun little pan fish.

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 esaldrich@yahoo.com or aldrichfishing.com.