My Mystery Sweetwater Striper

This striped bass easily set the lake record for George Sparks reservoir at Sweetwater State Park—it’s the first striper ever reported from the lake!

Brandon Black | February 24, 2016

Here in the South we are blessed to have significantly mild winters, which allow us fishermen to enjoy our sport year-round. I was talking to some family Christmas morning—my uncle Drew Berry, who has been one of my fishing mentors and partners for years, and my cousin Ryan Goff, who had flown home from California to spend the holidays with family.

Like always, me and Drew started talking fishing, and Ryan chimed in that all he wanted to do while home was go fishing at least once. Due to time restraints, we decided we would stay close and go the next morning to George H. Sparks reservoir at Sweetwater Creek State Park.

This was fine by me because Drew has fished the lake hundreds of times in the past 20 years, and we both know the quality of fish this lake has produced.

After fishing for about an hour on Dec. 26, I pulled out my flipping stick—a 7-foot medium-heavy rod, 65-lb. braid, 3/0 flipping hook and a junebug-colored Rage Tail worm, the complete opposite of what someone would think would attract a striped bass.

After about 20 minutes of flipping flooded brush, I felt a vicious thump that I won’t ever forget. I tightened my line, and with a quick snap of my rod, I thumped it back, and the battle began. It took everything I had to budge that fish, and after about 15 seconds I caught a glimpse through the rust-colored water of what I thought was a ginormous largemouth. My hopes of that monster largemouth bass was quickly changed as the fish surfaced again, this time revealing its perfect lateral lines.

“It’s a stripe!” Drew yelled.

After a long, hard battle, Drew hand-lined the fish and finally got the massive striper in the boat. All of us were in awe, including Ryan’s dog that made the journey out with us.

We finished our fishing trip and contacted DNR when we got back to the ramp. They were very surprised and interested and came to see and confirm my catch. We all talked and wondered how in the world a striped bass ended up in the lake. Was it dropped by a bird, maybe one of the bald eagles that have been spotted around the park? Could it have traveled up from the Chattahoochee River and made the leap over the spillway back when we had the flood in 2009? Or was it placed in the lake by someone who had caught the fish from another body of water? The mystery remains unknown, and it sparks another question. Are there more of these fish in the lake? If so, it could be devastating to the fish populations here.

Sweetwater State Park is a great place to come, whether you’re fishing, hiking, sightseeing or just want to relax. For info, visit

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