Some anglers say they do not like summertime fishing on lakes Oconee and Sinclair due to the large crowds on the lake and the slow bite, at times. If you can only fish those reservoirs on weekends there is certainly some truth to that concern. However, during the week both reservoirs are fairly void of most boat traffic. Fishing Lake Sinclair earlier this week, I only encountered a couple of fishing boats, a couple of pontoon boats and a single jet ski. 

For whatever reason, many anglers do not want to fish in the larger reservoirs and therefore they think that unless they know a landowner who has a private pond, they are shut out from fishing entirely. There are numerous public ponds, lakes and rivers that are open to fishing in this area. Some require a good drive and with gas under $2.50, they present a good option for summer fishing.

Knowing a local landowner with a small pond full of fish is the ideal situation because you can probably fish from the bank if you do not own a small boat. If you are not fortunate enough to have access to a private farm pond you do have other alternatives. But often, just asking permission is all it takes to gain access to a private pond. I am fortunate to have a couple of farm ponds that I can fish. 

As I have gotten older, the allure of fishing bass tournaments, or for that matter, only fishing big lakes has lost some of its appeal to me. That type of fishing can take a toll on your body when you get older, not to say anything about the energy required to fish an eight- to nine-hour bass tournament. Add in the cost factor and that is why I continually look for opportunities where I can fish in smaller, quieter and less expensive venues.

I grew up fishing small ponds, creeks and rivers in Alabama and I guess it is in my blood because that is where I seem to be drawn these days. I attempt to travel back to Alabama each year to fish small ponds with my younger brother Terry. On my last trip to Alabama, I thoroughly enjoyed fishing the small ponds around the town where I grew up.

Recently, I have been searching out smaller venues to fish in the local area and have fished some local farm ponds, the Ocmulgee River and the Oconee River. The farm ponds have offered great angling for bream, shellcracker and small bass. Redbreast fishing in the Oconee River and Ocmulgee River is great and in the Ocmulgee River, anglers can expect to catch a shoal bass. According to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GDNR), the area from the dam at Jackson Lake down to Juliette is under-fished, and along with having great fishing, it is very scenic. 

The Oconee River below and just downriver of the Sinclair Dam is also an underutilized fishing resource, according to the GDNR’s Wildlife Resources Division (WRD). A boat ramp was constructed just below the Sinclair Dam and makes access from below the dam to the Highway 22 bridge. 

According to the WRD, that stretch of the Oconee River is loaded with fish including bream, catfish, largemouth bass, hybrid bass and striped bass. However, that area has rapids, rocks and can be dangerous so boaters will need to be careful. 

The Oconee River below the Highway 22 bridge is accessible from several boat ramps all the way to Dublin. There are boat ramps at the Milledgeville Greenway, Central State, Beaverdam WMA, Deep Creek and Buckeye. That stretch of the Oconee River also provides excellent opportunities for anglers. 

Sampling by the WRD indicates that redbreast numbers in that stretch of the Oconee River are excellent. Bluegills make up approximately 30% of the population with some of those fish ranging from 7-10 inches. Redbreasts make up approximately about 20% of the population and average 6 inches. 

Blues and flatheads continue to expand their population in the Oconee River and numerous fish over 30 pounds have been harvested in recent years. Largemouth bass along with some redeye and spotted bass are available to anglers. Approximately 25% of the bass measure greater than 14 inches and occasionally an angler is rewarded with bass over 20 inches.

Georgia has numerous lakes available to the public that offer both bank and boat fishing. Some of the Public Fishing Areas (PFAs) located a short distance from the local area are the Marben Farms PFA that includes 22 ponds ranging from one to 95 acres and the Hugh M. Gillis PFA that has a 109-acre lake.   

If you want to fish smaller lakes, ponds and rivers, you can visit the GDNR, Wildlife Resources Division website at and select “Fishing” and then select “Places to Fish.” The site is filled with good information on fishing rivers, ponds and lakes that are open to the public. 

Good fishing and see you next week. 

Outdoors columnist Bobby Peoples can be reached at [email protected]


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