Georgia State Park Bream Fishing
Some of these state park public-fishing holes offer chances for easy limits of bream.
May is such a magic month if you are a bream fisherman. Bream stay out in deeper water all winter long, and when they finally move up into the shallows it’s an explosion of fish-catching fun. The next full moon is scheduled for Saturday, April 27, 2002, and with the unseasonably warm weather we’ve seen in mid April, bream should be on the bed all across Georgia. If you don’t have a private honey hole to fish, hit one of Georgia’s State-Park lakes. Some are better than others.
Starting in northwest Georgia, GON caught up with WRD senior Fisheries biologist Kevin Dallmier, who spoke to us about Chattooga County’s Sloppy Floyd State Park.
“It’s always been average to good,” said Kevin. “You’re not going to catch any 2-pounders on average, but you’ll catch high numbers of 6- to 8-inch fish. It’s a good place to load a cooler.
“There are two lakes there, an upper lake which is 33 acres and the lower lake is 31 acres.”
Kevin said the upper lake has more bank access, with at least 80 percent of it mowed and manicured. The little bit of the lake lined with a wooded bank has a nature trail on it, so fishing there is easy, too. That lake has a good boat ramp that Kevin says he’s put his 20-foot bass boat in plenty of times. Although Kevin puts his boat in the water, the rule on these two ponds is that you can use electric-trolling motors only.
In most State-Park lakes, the rule is that you may operate gas motors 10 hp or less.
“Sloppy Floyd gets a lot of bank pressure and very little boat pressure,” said Kevin. “That upper lake gets fished more than the lower lake.”
Kevin said the lower lake also has a boat ramp, but he recommends only a jon-boat owner put his boat in there. The ramp is small and very steep, and once you actually get to the water it’s extremely flat. However, where there’s bad news, there’s good news.
“The upper end of that lower lake is real shallow, and there’s a bunch of stumps out there,” Kevin said. “It probably doesn’t get over 3-feet deep. A few years ago when they had the lake drawn down, I was out there walking around in the winter and there was still beds all around every one of those stumps. Fish are out there spawning in the middle, and the few people out there fishing in a boat are cruising right over where they need to be fishing.”
Kevin said the bream should be bedding on the next full moon, so he offered up some advice if you’re new to the sport.
“Look for any sort of woody structure, it doesn’t have to be much, even just a limb, a stump, something where they like to make their beds,” he said. “What I like doing is pinch on just enough split shot about 12-18 inches above the hook to get it down to the bottom. Put a bobber on and throw it out, and just inch it back. When you hit the bed, you’ll get bit every time. As a general rule, worms are better for shellcrackers and crickets work good for bluegill.”
Sloppy Floyd should be on fire even as you read this. In mid-April, some WRD Fisheries technicians did some shocking at Rocky Mtn. PFA, located just 10 miles from the park, and bream were shallow preparing to bed.
The other area Kevin mentioned as a potential DNR State Park lake for bream was Sweetwater Creek. Located off I-20 in Douglas County, this 215-acre lake receives plenty of Atlanta fishing traffic. However, it does have a lot of smaller fish in the 4- to 5-inch range if you just want to catch fish. The area has a boat ramp.
Before we leave the Atlanta area, let’s check in with the latest from Barrow County’s Fort Yargo State Park.
Artie Doughty, senior ranger with DNR Parks at Fort Yargo, says the bream fishing is good on the 260-acre lake. In fact, he’s helped put out 300 Christmas trees all over the lake. You’ll find a large number of these under the two bridges on each end of the lake.
“Then I put some on major points in 16- to 22-feet of water on the flats right next to the creek channels for winter and summer fishing,” said Artie. “Then, I started right below the beach and put them on the smaller points in 8- to 12-feet of water all the way down to the major point. Then, we’ve got a creek channel that comes out between the two campgrounds, and it’s about 18-feet deep inside that creek channel and 14-feet on the ledge, and I’ve got trees on both sides of that creek channel. Then, around the two docks I’ve got some out.”
Yargo does have a boat ramp, but if you’re a bank fishermen, there’s plenty of opportunity. You’ll find some of these Chrismas trees from the main beach down to the overlook, which overlooks the main part of the lake over to the dam, right below the A-shelter.
“We’re packed on Saturday and Sunday with bank and boat fishermen,” said Artie. “We open the gates at 7:00 a.m. and close them at 10 p.m.
“Also, I’ve been putting out fish food from the docks, you can walk out there and see the fish.”
Going south, let’s look at High Falls State Park. This 650-acre lake in Monroe County has seen its share of headlines in GON, simply because it’s a good fishery. The bream fishing is no different.
“It doesn’t get a lot of fishing pressure, but it enjoys a pretty healthy reputation as a bream lake,” said WRD Fisheries biologist Les Ager. “There’s a significant amount of vegetation in the lake, and almost always that provides good habitat for bluegill and shellcrackers. It’s not unusual to see a 1 1/2-lb. shellcracker over there.”
If you’re going to be serious about High Falls fishing, you’ll need a boat
“Bank access is almost nonexistent,” said Les. “There’s some banks along the picnic areas where you can fish, but for the most part you have to be a boater to fish the lake.”
The two boat ramps are in good shape, and Les says you can launch your boat with a 2WD vehicle easily.
“The lake is old, and at one time was full of timber,” said Les. “It still has a lot of submerged structure and a lot of shoreline cover. There’s some big stump fields, particularly in Watkins Bottom on the east side of the lake that would be good for bream.”
Les mentioned the upper end of Buck Creek as another good spot to try drowning a cricket for a bedded bream.
In that same area of the state we need to mention McIntosh Lake in Indian Springs State Park. This Butts County lake, which is 105 acres in size, will watch some folks leave the ramp this spring will some heavy coolers. GON freelance writer Scott Robinson recalls a story he did on that lake last spring.
“On the upper end of the lake past the island to the left of where the creek comes in, I remember watching two guys up there catching them on the bed and they were wearing them out,” said Scott. “I think there was a big stump right there in a flat shallow cove with weeds around the edges, and there was some overhanging branches all down that bank.”
Scott, who is a WRD Fisheries biologist, was on the lake in May, just in time for you to go to that spot right now!
Hamburg State Park, located in Washington County, is 225-acres in size, but it hasn’t been very hot for bream. However, things may be on schedule for a turn around this spring.
“The bream have been slow the last few years,” said park manager Russell Hinson. “The state did a survey last April, and said they were happy with the bream population. They saw hatchlings up to 3-year-old bream. I’m hoping this year should be decent. I only saw one week last year where one family caught 120 in three days.”
Russell said the spillway below the dam is a great area to catch bream, especially when rains produce enough overflow current. A good area in the lake is the 200-yard stretch of bank from the boat ramp to the campground. There’s a lot of stumps in that area and should hold bedding bream, which Russell predicts should happen by the end of April.
“If you’re a boat fisherman, there’s some areas on the upper end that are loaded with stumps,” said Russell. “Bank fishermen can’t get up there.”
You may want to give this lake a shot. The lake receives very little traffic. Russell said if 15 boats are on the water, it’s a very busy day. However, don’t get discouraged if you strike out. Russell said the lake can be challenging.
“Many of the fishermen say it’s an extremely hard lake to learn,” he said. “I’ll talk to the campers, and they’ll say they hadn’t had a bite all day. Then I’ll come across one of the regulars, and he’ll have a cooler full.”
Sliding on down into south Georgia, we find Little Ocmulgee State Park in Wheeler County near McRae. Three years ago this 265-acre lake was stocked with 37,000 bream and bass, so you’d think with that the fishing would be good. The lake, which is still rebounding from a pretty severe hydrilla problem, seems to be on the rebound.
“I haven’t heard any good stories this year, but I know a guy last spring who caught 35 bream two days in a row,” said site manager Ken Tokar
The lake has some interesting boat rules that favor fishermen. You’re only allowed to use motors less than 10 hp in size before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m. Between those hours, expect skiers and jet skies. If you don’t have a boat, Ken said the bank fishing is good on the lake.
“Bank access is pretty good on the park side, which is a good long stretch,” he said “It’s all woods on the other side, and there’s really no way to get to it. But, we do rent paddleboats and canoes.
“There’s also good fishing behind the dam. You’ve got to access that area from the beach, so please don’t stand on the dam.
“I’ve fished below the dam a few times and had a great time. I’ve gone down in there with a couple of cane poles, and I’d find a main run coming through there. I caught some of the prettiest redbreast you’ve ever seen. That old black water and sandy bottom, I’ve had some great times down there. In fact, I’ve run out of bait a couple of times.”
Don’t go too far from the dam. The state only owns about 200 yards of land below it
Staying south, GON spoke with WRD Fisheries biologist Mike Geihsler about the 289-acre lake at Reed Bingham State Park in Colquitt County.
“We’ve got a pretty heavy hydrilla problem there,” said Mike. “Parks has been treating it, but you may want to fish now because later on in the summer it gets pretty choked up. Right now it’s not too bad. ”
You’ll also have to contend with with jet skiers, so go fishing early or during the week.
Having said all this, the fishing can be good for redbreast on the upper end where there’s some good flow from the Little River. You’ll find two boat ramps on the lake.
In deep southwest Georgia, Early County holds Kolomoki Mounds State Park, which offers two ponds to anglers.
“Kolomoki Lake is 44 acres and Yohola Lake is 27 1/2 acres and sits above Kolomoki,” said WRD Fisheries biologist David Partridge.
“They both have good boat ramps, and they don’t receive a lot of pressure. It does have some decent fish, but it’s one of those lakes with high flow-through, and it’s not real fertile.”
This State Park is a great place if you just want to get away with the family and still have an average chance to catch fish while avoiding crowds. The dark-water lake is very scenic with cypress trees. Don’t be surprised to see an alligator or two.
“Your average bream should be under eight inches,” said David.
Bank access on Kolomoki is fair. At Yohola there is a fishing pier, but that’s about it for bank fishing there.
Moving back north to A.H. Stephens Park in Taliferro County, park manager Judd Smith said recent reports on fishing have been very positive. A bad weed problem plagued the lake, but the 15-acre watershed is rebounding nicely.
“There was a guy here that caught 30 bream the other day,” said Judd. “You can fish around three-quarters of the bank. There’s a real long dam you can fish from and a nature trail that comes around the back side of the lake that allows access. The back righthand corner of the lake is real shallow and should be good for bream.”
Judd is excited about new plans for the lake now that the grass is gone.
“We’re going to put out some fish attractors this summer,” he said.
Moving all the way up to northeast Georgia, Randy Gambrell, assistant manager of Vogel State Park, said that this year he’s already seen some good bream caught from the 20-acre lake there.
“It’s a good lake to fish for bream,” said Randy. “It’s a clear lake with good bank access. There’s no boat ramp, but it gets decent pressure from the folks that stay in the park.”
Randy said he’s already seen some bream sweeping the beds.
Finally, we need to mention Lake Tugaloo in Rabun County. The lake is owned by Georgia Power Co., but sits inside Tallulah Gorge State Park.
“That’s where I just got off of shocking, and we shocked up some big bream,” said WRD Fisheries biologist Anthony Rabern. Although this isn’t an official State-Park lake, we felt it was worth mentioning.
The lake is 580 acres in size and the Chattooga and Tallulah rivers converge in the lake, just above the dam. It has a boat ramp inside the park. Three sides of it are surrounded by the State Park, the other side is South Carolina. You should show up with a boat, but there’s a 25-hp limit here. The only good bank access is by the boat ramp in the park.
“We’ve seen shellcrackers up to three pounds, and we shocked a lot of bluegills today averaging half a pound,” said Anthony.
The rules for most of these state-park lakes are the same, but the fees and regs may change from year to year. Click here for more info.
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