The Peach State may not be the go-to place for surfers to catch waves, but Georgia’s abundance of lakes makes it a prime destination for water lovers.
In addition to sporting some of the most scenic mountain views in the country, Georgia is home to a plethora of beautiful lakes that are perfect for “aquaphiles.” Not only do the lakes offer plenty of locations for anglers looking for a good fishing hole, but they also present opportunities of boating, swimming and hiking for people of all skill levels and ages.
In an attempt to highlight some of the lakes around Atlanta to enjoy, we reached out to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to help us compile the following list:
Lake Clara Meer
Anglers can wet their hooks right in the heart of Atlanta at the 11.5-acre Lake Clara Meer, which was created for the 1895 Cotton States and International Exposition. The lake at Piedmont Park has three new fishing piers and a dock that makes it easier than ever to find the right spot to cast a line. The lake that has the Midtown skyline as its backdrop is routinely stocked with fish, including largemouth bass, crappie, bream and catfish.
1320 Monroe Drive, Atlanta. 404-875-7275, piedmontpark.org.
Bull Sluice Lake
Bull Sluice Lake is a safe bet if you want to get out of the city but don’t want to drive too far. This 673-acre Georgia Power lake sits about 20 miles north of the city in the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. This small reservoir is a great spot for hiking and fishing. The lake doesn’t allow swimming, but it does have an abundance of bass, bream, channel catfish, yellow perch, crappie, rainbow trout and brown trout.
380 Morgan Falls Road, Dunwoody. 770-321-2064, geonames.usgs.gov.
If you’re looking to catch some speed on your boat, Lake Lanier may be the spot for you. The 38,000-acre Lake Lanier sits about 60 miles north of Atlanta and was home of the 1996 Olympic canoe and kayak events due to its straight, flat open water. Several million anglers take to its almost 700 miles of shoreline annually to catch crappie and bass. Anglers can fish on the shoreline everywhere except for the beach area and also have access to docks and piers. On-site overnight lodging is available in either cottages or the campground. Several boat slips are also available for users staying overnight on the property.
7000 Lanier Islands Parkway, Buford. 770-945-8787, lanierislands.com.
Allatoona Lake (also known as Lake Allatoona) is one of the state’s most popular lakes and a great place to fish. The 12,000-acre lake is about 35 miles northwest of Atlanta and worth every bit of the drive with its 270 miles of shoreline. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manage brush piles along the Bethany Bridge Fishing Jetty to provide excellent cover and increased fishing success. Also located within easy casting distance of the jetty are 200 sunken Christmas trees that act as an attractor for that trophy bass, catfish, crappie or bluegill.
50 Lodge Road SE, Acworth. 770-975-0055, allatoonalake.org.
Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center
While not exactly a lake, the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center is only about 50 miles from Atlanta and has 20 different ponds to fish ranging in size from 1 to 95 acres that allow for an intimate escape to nature. The ponds are intensively managed for fishing and offer anglers the opportunity to fish for largemouth bass, bluegill, channel catfish, crappie and redear sunfish. Ponds are specially equipped with fish attractors consisting of PVC pipes and other components to allow those fishing from the shore ample opportunity, and there’s no shortage of angling or bankside exploration opportunities. When the fishing fun wears off, take a hike, visit the Wildlife Center and or take a shot at the Clybel Shooting Range.
543 Elliott Trail, Mansfield. 770-784-3059, georgiawildlife.com/CharlieElliott.
George Sparks Reservoir
The 215-acre George Sparks Reservoir at Sweetwater Creek State Park is popular for fishing and provides an appealing background for feeding ducks and picnicking. Sweetwater Creek State Park is a peaceful tract of wilderness only about 19 miles west of downtown Atlanta. A wooded trail follows the stream to the ruins of the New Manchester Manufacturing Co., a textile mill burned during the Civil War. Beyond the mill, the trail climbs rocky bluffs to provide views of the beautiful rapids below. Additional trails wind through fields and forest, showcasing ferns, magnolias, wild azaleas and hardwoods.
1750 Mount Vernon Road, Lithia Springs. 770-732-5871, gastateparks.org/SweetwaterCreek.
Randy Poynter Lake
For a low-key vibe and limited noise, the 650-acre Randy Poynter Lake is your move. The reservoir is about 6 miles north of Conyers and 35 miles east of Atlanta. The lake offers a boat ramp, fishing piers, walking trails, a playground and a retreat house. It’s important to note gasoline motors are not allowed on the lake. Electric, sail, row, paddle or man-powered boats are the only vessels allowed.
3001 Black Shoals Road, Conyers. 770-761-1611, rockdalecountyga.gov.
Check each lake’s website for information on fishing, boating, swimming, operating hours and admission fees. Several of Georgia’s parks have created programs that allow people to borrow equipment for little or no charge. Georgia law requires that anyone 16 and older have a fishing license in their possession. Licenses can be purchased online from the Electronic Georgia Licensing (EGAL) system or by calling 1-800-366-2661.
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