Fishing Delayed At Bear Creek Reservoir

County officials cite safety concerns after 9-11 terrorist attacks in delaying public access.

GON Staff | March 1, 2003

Georgia anglers eager to fish for F-1 hybrid largemouths stocked into Bear Creek Reservoir in Jackson County are going to have to wait a little longer.

The 550-acre water-supply lake was originally projected to open for fishing March 1, 2003. But due to security concerns spawned by the September 11 attacks, opening the lake to fishing has been delayed.

Georgia Fisheries purchased 12,500 F-1 hybrid largemouths and raised another 12,500 to stock two year-classes into the lake. The F-1s carry genetic traits of both Florida and Northern largemouth bass strains and grow rapidly and to magnum size. The state also stocked 185,000 bluegill and redear bream, 25,000 channel catfish, and 4,500 threadfin shad. The cost to WRD Fisheries to create a fisheries management plan, to stock and monitor the lake, and to hold public meetings over a 2 1/2 year period totals more than $30,000.

On Tuesday, Feb. 18, WRD Fisheries officials met with the Bear Creek Recreation Committee to update the committee on the status of fishery. The bream and catfish are of catchable size now. The bass are in the 10- to 12-inch range, and some thinning might be beneficial.

Special Bass: In June of 2001, the state stocked 12,500 F-1 hybrid largemouth bass into Bear Creek Reservoir. A total of 25,000 F-1s were stocked.

The Upper Oconee Basin Water Authority was enthusiastic about public fishing and the trophy-bass-management plans, until the events of 9-11 and fears over the safety of public drinking water. Public fishing is currently on hold pending results of a security study of the facility.

A draft of the security plan has been prepared, but not yet discussed by the Authority due to Georgia’s Sunshine Laws that make it illegal for a government body to hold discussions in private.

According to Jim Dove, executive director of the Northeast Georgia Regional Development Center, the Authority is awaiting a legal okay to discuss security measures in private.

“There is legislation working its way through the Georgia legislature that would  allow government authorities to discuss in private what their security plans are,” said Jim. “As soon as the governor signs that law, then the Authority would discuss the security plan with all the measures for recreation, including public fishing. And hopefully do that as soon as feasible to get on with the fishing.”

Jim put no timetable on when fishing might begin at Bear Creek.

“What we want people to know is to not give up hope that something positive is going to happen,” said Jim. “We just had no way to know what was going to happen on September 11.”

At present there is one boat ramp located next to the treatment plant. It will not be available for fishing access. If the Authority okays fishing this spring, the first opportunity will likely be bank access — and the fishing, whenever it opens, ought to be outstanding.

Become a GON subscriber and enjoy full access to ALL of our content.

New monthly payment option available!


Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.