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1 OconeeLead

Bass Fishing - Georgia's Lake Oconee

By Larry Larsen

 At almost 19,000 acres and 374 miles of shoreline, there is plenty of angling opportunities in the beautiful Lake Oconee in eastern Georgia. Bass fishing on the state's second largest lake is the best available, according to 2 Oconeeguide Norris Edge of Buckhead who has been fishing the Georgia Power owned and operated lake for 36 years.

"The biologists say that we have more fish per acre than any other lake in the state ," he points out. "We have a unique pump-back system so that our lake remains full most of the time. When we pull water to make power, 90 percent of the time they back the water right back into the lake. There is no pollution in the lake and it is very clean.

Two headwater rivers, the Appalachee and the Oconee, flow southward into the lake just north of the Interstate 20 highway bridge, and several major creeks such as Sugar, Lick, Richland, Beaver Dam, Sandy, Double Branches and Rocket, also feed the reservoir. Richland Creek is one of the clearest and most productive, particularly after heavy rains which may muddy the Oconee River channel.

 " 3 OconeeThe Oconee River produces some of the biggest largemouth, but Richland yields lots of 5- to 7-pound bass and is a great "numbers" waterway also," Edge notes. "That's why it is important to know that there is a slot limit on the lake. Anglers are allowed to keep largemouth bass between 6 and 11 inches if they wish, but those prime spawning fish between 11 and 14 inches must be released back to the lake. Bass over 14 inches can be kept for dinner."

 The big fish though are accessible, particularly March through June. In fact, a tournament winner on the lake will normally need 18 to 20 pounds total from a 5 bass limit, according to the guide. The Oconee Lake largemouth record, a northern-strain black bass, weighed 12 pounds and Edge's largest was a beautiful 9-pound, 3-ounce fish.

  4 OconeeThe ambiance and views of the luxury homes along parts of the lake are incredible. The boat docks on the scenic lake hold bass in the summer and fall, and the guide and I caught 5 and lost 3 other small fish in about 2 hours of fishing one October afternoon. I was staying at the Ritz-Carlton Reynolds Lodge on Lake Oconee and had just finished lunch at Gaby's By the Lake when Edge motored up to the adjacent dock to pick me up.

 "Fishing is tough," he warned as I jumped aboard his 19-foot bass boat. "Neither my friend fishing in another boat nor I have caught a bass this morning. There is no bite happening right now!"

 From that ominous forecast to a ten minute ride across the lake, the "lack of a bite" changed. On my tenth cast to one of the docks, a 2-pound largemouth tried to make off with my Carolina-rigged plastic worm. I landed the fish and quickly released it. Within five minutes, Edge had taken another bass and I had a small one jump off on the way into the boat. My guide was now smiling.

  5 Oconee GuideWe landed 3 more "keeper-size" largemouth and lost 3 other smaller ones in the following two hours before calling our brief afternoon trip casting to Richland Creek's perimeter docks a success. Edge's 3 pounder was the "big fish" of our venture. The soft plastic worms fished on a leader below a lead sinker and swivel stop proved productive, but often jigs flipped to the docks and sea walls in front of the luxury lakefront homes will be even more enticing, according to the guide.

 Reynolds Lake Oconee has 4 full service marinas (Plantation, Landing, Great Waters and Lake Club) and all offer fishing guides and fishing equipment, as well as boat rentals. Several tournaments are also hosted at Reynolds each year. Even if you have only a few hours to wet a line, fishing this beautiful area of the South is well worth it!

Editor's Note: For more information on the fishing/boating, contact H.N. Edge Guide Service at (706) 319-2024 and the Reynolds Plantation Marina at (706) 467-1111. For accommodations, real estate and other amentities, phone Reynolds Lake Oconee at (800) 800-5250 or visit www.reynoldslakeoconee.com and Ritz-Carlton Reynolds – Lake Oconee at (706) 467-0600 or visit www.ritzcarlton.com/reynolds.



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