Been having midsummer dreams of hard-fighting bass and wishing you could catch some? The heat is bad in August, but spotted bass on Lanier get on patterns that are predictable, and you can catch big fish with the right techniques. Plan an August trip to Lanier to get in on some surprisingly hot action.
Lake Lanier is a 38,000-acre Corps of Engineers Lake on the upper Chattahoochee River north of Atlanta. It has more than 692 miles of shoreline and is one of the most heavily used lakes in the United States, with more than 7.5 million visitors each year. It gets so crowded it is hard to fish during the day on weekends, but on weekdays and at night you can land some grown spotted bass without getting thrown out of the boat by passing yacht wakes.
The introduction of blueback herring and a 14-inch size limit on bass at Lanier has made it a trophy spotted-bass lake. Its deep, clear, rocky waters are perfect habitat for spotted bass, and they have grown fat here. Five-pound spots are fairly common in tournaments, and even 7-pounders are sometimes weighed in.
Eric Aldrich lives near Lanier and fishes it often. He says he is a “Georgia boy born in Connecticut.” He moved here when he was 6 years old. Eric got his start fishing in ponds but soon graduated to fishing Lanier with his family. His father and brother used to always out-fish him, and he thinks that is what made him competitive. Eric says that is what got him interested in tournament fishing, and he gets more fanatical about bass fishing every year.
Each week Eric writes fishing reports for The Forsyth County News, the Gainesville Times and the Dawson Community News. He is on the pro staff for Hummingbird, SPRO, Gamakatsu, Hammond’s Fishing Center, Big Bites Baits, Denali Custom Rods and Sunline. In 2007, he won the BFL on West Point and won the first-place check in the 2004 HD Owners Lake Lanier Tournament. Eric fishes the Hammond’s tournaments and many local pot and charity tournaments on Lanier, too.
A 7-lb., 1-oz. spotted bass is Eric’s personal record from Lanier, and he has also landed a 10-lb. largemouth on the lake. His best five-fish catch was five spots weighing just at 30 pounds, and he landed them all on 6-lb. test line.
“This time of year the big spots are set up in deep cover like brushpiles,” Eric told me. “They hold and feed in 30 to 40 feet of water, but they will come up to hit a bait on top, even from those depths.”
Any deep cover can hold spots, from standing timber to boat docks.
Eric says you will be fishing deep water if you want to catch big spots in August, but you don’t always have to fish deep. He always has a Zara Spook topwater bait and a Spro BBZ-1 swimbait tied on to throw over deep cover and near docks. He also keeps a Spro Deep Little John ready to cast over deep cover.
For deeper fish, a drop-shot rig is Eric’s go-to outfit. He rigs a Big Bite Baits finesse worm about a foot above a weight on 5-lb. test Sunline. He also likes a jig-head worm and will rig a Big Bite Finesse worm on a Spro K-Finesse head. Green or shad colors are the best worm colors for both rigs.
Rig a Dean Rojas Flipping Frog on a jig, and throw this jig ’n pig into cover, too. Hop it on rocky points in deep water. You can also fish a Carolina-rigged finesse worm in the same colors if you like that rig better.
Fluorocarbon line like Sunline is important, according to Eric. He says you will get a lot more bites on fluorocarbon, and the lighter the better. Five- to 7-lb. test is standard for Eric on his drop-shot and jig-head outfits. He throws a swimbait and crankbait on 10-lb. test Sunline. For topwater, you need monofilament line, not fluorocarbon, and it can go to 10-lb. test or heavier. Fluorocarbon sinks and will mess up the action of a topwater bait.
Eric and I fished the following 10 locations two weeks ago. We started at 3 p.m. and were off the water before dark. Eric landed five spots that weighed about 13 pounds from these places, so the fish are on them now.
No. 1: Nº 34 09.356 – W 84º 02.10.958 — Going upstream from the dam the last big pocket on your right, just downstream of channel marker SC2, has a rip-rap levy in the back. Go into this big cove, and you will see a rocky point on your left about two-thirds of the way back. It points toward the main lake, running at an angle parallel to the bank.
This is a typical deep point that Eric likes to fish. He will stop with his boat way off the point and make long casts toward the bank with a Spook, swimbait or crankbait. Work all the baits back from where the water is 15 feet deep all the way out to 40 feet deep. Spots will come up from 40 feet or more to hit a bait over points on Lanier.
After fishing the baits over the deep water, sit in deep water and cast a jig-head worm or drop shot the same way, casting up to 20 feet of water and working the worms back along the bottom to 40 feet deep. If you hit cover, work the worms slowly through it. You can also ride the point with a good depthfinder and mark brushpiles to fish. Most points on the lower lake have brushpiles on them.
No. 2: N 34º 10.329 – W 84º 02.321 — Run into Shoal Creek past channel marker SC3, which is on a small island on your left. Go into the big cove behind the island, and stop on the center point between the two arms in the back. There are two trees lying in the water on the left side of the point, and the water is very deep at their tips.
Start out on the point, and work your fast-moving baits. Then slow down at the trees, and work your plastics through them. Eric got a good 2-lb. spot here on his drop-shot rig, and he showed me how tough 5-lb. test Sunline is. The fish sawed him back and forth in the treetop before coming out. He was able to land it, even though the line was frayed, by playing it carefully and keeping his drag loose.
Deep blowdowns and brushpiles are good places to throw a jig ’n pig. Rig them on 7- to 10-lb. line, and work them through the wood. Green pumpkin and other natural colors are best.
No. 3: N 34º 09.561 – W 84º 01.841 — Docks hold fish, too. The best docks are ones with 30 feet of water near their front ends, and the bigger the dock, the more shade it produces. So bigger is better. If you go up Shoal Creek past the big island on your right with channel marker 6SC on it, there is a big cove behind it. The docks on the left side of this cove are good.
Start fishing the first dock, and fish your way into the cove. Eric says the dirtiest, nastiest docks are the best. The third dock in is one of the best in this line since it has deep water out front. Fish all the docks, but work the third one hardest.
Eric will run a swimbait or crankbait along sides of the floats, and then he gets as far back under the docks as he can with a jig-head worm. Skip the worm to the darkest part of the shade, and let it fall. It is important to let the bait fall on a slack line, so it falls straight down.
The angle of the sun is important because of the way the dock casts its shadow. When the sun is low in the sky, light goes under the dock, so a high sun is better. A high sun creates shade down to deep water and gives the bass better protection.
Probe for brush. Some docks have brush under them, and some have brush out in front. Brush makes them better. Eric likes to pick apart a dock, hitting every part of it from the walkway to the front. If you catch a bass in a particular spot, like under the last float on the walkway, concentrate on that spot on other docks.
No. 4: N 34º 10.830 – W 84 00.244 — Go under the Lanier Islands bridge and around the small island at the end of the point on your right. It has channel marker 4BC on it, and there is a danger marker off the upstream side. A long point runs out past the danger marker and drops off on the end and on both sides. There are rocks and brushpiles here to hold bass.
Eric usually starts out on the end with his boat way off the point and works his shallow-running baits over the drop, fishing from the creek side toward the bank on the upstream side of the island. Eric likes a Super Spook, the one with three sets of treble hooks, in clear or Tennessee Shad. Then go back over the same area working the bottom.
Wind blowing across the point here helps, as it does on other spots. When possible cast into the wind and work your bait with the moving water since that is the way the bass will usually be facing, and it is a more natural way for bait to move.
No. 5: N 34º 12.473 – W 83º 59.453 — Run across the lake and up the lake side of the islands separating Two Mile Creek from the lake. About halfway up this big set of islands, not far downstream of the small cut between the two big islands, you will see three shoal markers in a triangle well off the bank. They are straight across the lake from channel marker 16.
Eric likes to fish the center marker, the one closest to the bank and upstream. It gets really shallow on top and is rocky, and there are brushpiles around it. Fish all your baits around it just like the other spots. Eric got a solid 3-lb. spot here when we fished. He was working his drop-shot worm through a brushpile just upstream of the marker, out in 25 feet of water. When he hits brush, Eric will shake his rod tip with a little slack in the line, making the worm dance in one place. That seems to drive the spots wild.
No. 6: N 34º 13.087 – W 83º 59.797 — Go into Two Mile Creek. If you are careful, and if the lake is full, you can go through the cut between the two islands. Channel marker 7TM will be on your right if you turn left after going through the cut. It is on the tip of an island that sits just off the bank in front of Two Mile Creek Access.
A point runs upstream off the upstream side of the island, back toward the bank from the channel marker on the outside tip of the island. You will see brush sticking out of the water on a rockpile off the bank, and the point runs upstream of it. Stay out and cast toward the brush you can see, fan casting with all your baits.
You will hit brush out in deep water, and Eric caught one of the two biggest spots he had here. The 3.75-lb. fish hit and got him in brush, but he worked it until it came out, and he landed the hard-fighting spot on 5-lb. test line.
No. 7: N 34º 12.737 – W 84º 00.477 — Farther down Two Mile Creek, channel marker 5TM will be on the tip of an island on your right. It is right where the creek opens up behind Three Sisters Islands. The point on the outside of the island runs way out and drops off on the upstream side.
Eric keeps his boat out in 40 or more feet of water on the upstream side of the point and works from the island out toward the end of the point. Cast your baits across the point, and work them from shallow to deep. Eric says this is the kind of structure where he would throw a big Spook all day long.
If the water is calm, Eric will work his Spook as fast as he can, moving it across the water too fast for the bass to get a good look at it. With some chop on the water to break up the light, he will slow it down some. The rougher the water, the slower he will fish his topwater baits.
No. 8: N 34º 12.822 – W 84º 00.921 – Go around the 3TM marker and into Six Mile Creek. There will be a small island sitting off a point on your right. Stop on the downstream side of this island, and fish out and around the outside point, working all your baits from shallow to deep. There are brushpiles on this rocky island and point that hold fish. Eric says crankbaits are often overlooked when fishing deep structure and cover, but a bait like the Spro Deep Little John will get down to 20 feet when thrown on 10-lb. fluorocarbon line and will get hits from bass holding even deeper. Make long casts to let the bait work deeper. Eric likes the clear-chartreuse color on Lanier.
No. 9: N 34º 13.434 – W 84º 01.116 — Go across to the mouth of Four Mile Creek, and channel marker 1FM will be on your left. It sits on a hump off the bank, and there is lots of brush on the hump. Eric said to line up the danger marker with the channel marker, and you will cross brush out in 30 feet of water.
Fish all around the hump and the saddle going to the bank from the hump. Fishermen drop lots of brush piles in places like this, and any or all of them will have fish on any given day. There is standing timber off the hump to make this spot even better.
No. 10: N 34º 10.828 – W 84º 04.211 – Run down to the mouth of Bald Ridge Creek, and go around the point with channel marker 1BR on it. Just upstream of it you will see a danger marker off the bank on your right. It marks a long point with a good stump row on it, and a hump comes up well off the bank. Fish all around the end of the point and hump with topwater, a swimbait and a crankbait. Then go back over it with a drop shot, jig-head worm and jig ’n pig. This place has it all — brush, stumps, rock and clay. It is one of Eric’s favorite spots on the lake.
Check out these 10 locations that Eric likes to fish, and then you can find many others all over the lake that are similar and hold bass. The lower lake below Brown’s Bridge holds the biggest spots, but you can catch good fish upstream, too, in similar places. Make Lake Lanier a summer destination, and you might just catch your biggest spotted bass ever.