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Carters Lake

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We started out at daylight fly fishing. We watched a magnificent sunrise over the mountains and caught well over 100 bream. We kept a very good m... Continued


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Description: 

Carters Lake is a Reservoir in Murray, Georgia.

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Carters Lake embraces a spectacular tract of foothills scenery in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia. Its sparkling waters and rugged shoreline provide a beautiful surrounding for a variety of recreational opportunities which include camping, fishing, picnicking, boating, mountain biking and hunting.

Fishing Description: 

Best Bets: Spotted bass, striped bass and hybrid bass.

Fishing Tips, Tactics, How-To info: 

LARGEMOUTH BASS
About 10 percent of all black bass in the lake are largemouth. Despite the low percentage, those caught tend to be very healthy. Most will be just over a pound, but 7-8 pound fish are certainly not out of the question.

Fish larger u-tail or ribbon tail plastic worms. The classic pig-n-jig is also a successful largemouth technique in this impoundment.

The lake's steep banks provide limited habitat for largemouth. Focus on coves, which typically provide the only shallow largemouth habitat in the lake. Fish toward the back of these coves in areas with submerged timber or fallen trees.

SPOTTED BASS
Spotted bass are dominant. Their abundance will remain high in 2009, and growth is good. Thick-sided spots around 1 pound can be expected, but don’t let that fool you, there are plenty of 3-4 pound (or better!) magnum spots in these waters.

In spring, spots move shallow and can be caught using shad patterned, medium diving crankbaits or top water baits fished in the early and latter parts of the day. As the heat of summer sets in, slower presentations near deep (20-30 feet) structure are preferred. Try Texas rigged plastic worms, drop-shot rigs tipped with 3-4 inch plastic flukes or crawdad jig imitations. In fall crankbaits will again produce spots. Switch to ½ - ¾ ounce jigging spoons or live bait in winter.

In early spring fish rocky main lake points. As spring progresses, spots move off the main lake points into cove areas to spawn. In summer, look for spots on deeper (20-30 feet) structure like brush piles or the 45 plus fish attractors created by the COE and DNR (see map link under 'Additional Information' below). Spots will feed aggressively on main lake points with the cooling of fall. Winter-time anglers should again fish deeper (50-60 ft.) structure in the lake.

STRIPED BASS
Stripers range in size from 1 to 30 pounds in this impoundment. Most are 5 to 10 pounds, with the typical heavy weight in the 20-pound size class. An abundance of shad in 2008 may afford anglers the opportunity to catch a lineside in 2009, rivaling the current lake record of 33 lbs., 5 oz.

Good numbers of stripers are caught each year on live bait presentations. Live trout or gizzard shad free-lined or fished 3-4 feet below balloon rigs when water temperatures are below 65 degrees (F) are hard to beat. When water temps are above 65 degrees (F), live offerings fished on downlines in 20-25 feet of water are recommended.

During the cooler months from Oct. - Jun., lineside fishing is best at Carters. Stripers can be found just about anywhere in the lake but the waters immediately adjacent to the Doll Mountain boat ramp and near the largest island in the Coosawatte River arm of the lake are both perennial hot spots.

WALLEYE
Some limited natural reproduction occurs, but annual stockings of fingerlings primarily sustain the population. Now, with several consecutive years of walleye stocking, a modest, but stable population has been established. Fast growth will put the bulk of the fish stocked in the last two years in the 1-2 pound range. Fish stocked several years ago will be 5-plus pounds in size.

Jigging spoons, deep diving crankbaits and live bait such as minnows or night crawlers, fished on 3/8 ounce lead jigs are popular walleye techniques year-round. During the spring spawning run, walleye move shallow and can be caught with shallow running shad or minnow-colored baits.

During the walleye spawning run (Feb. - Mar.), target rocky shorelines and points in the upper Coosawattee River arm of the lake above Ridgeway boat ramp. After spawning, fish areas with standing main lake timber and long rocky main lake points. As temperatures warm, concentrate on deeper structure where baitfish congregate during summer and fall. In late fall through winter, focus efforts again on rocky points in the Coosawattee arm of the lake. Regardless of season, night fishing can be a productive approach for walleye.

HYBRID BASS

Despite continuous stockings of hybrids over the last five years, the population size has not yet reached its full potential. Hybrid numbers remain modest, but fish larger than 10 pounds will stretch lines in 2009.

Trolling artificial baits like u-rigs or crankbaits can be effective, but like stripers, live trout or shad are typically more consistent techniques. Wintertime hybrids may also hit cut fish bait or chicken livers fished on the bottom at near-shore locations.

Hybrids are most often found close to schools of shad, which travel throughout the lake. Use your boat’s electronics to locate concentrations of baitfish because hybrids will likely be nearby. In summer, slow trolling down-lines in 20-30 feet of water should produce hybrids. There are also several mid-lake humps located in the lake where hybrids are known to frequent.

CRAPPIE
Though never overly abundant, ½ to ¾ pound crappie are typical. Larger individuals will top 1- 1 ½ pounds in size.

Crappie size minnows (1-2 inches) fished several feet below a bobber or small plastic jigs are recommended for the spring angler. Live minnows or jigs are used to target crappie on deeper structure outside the spring spawning months.

Focus spring fishing efforts around standing timber, visible in a number of areas throughout the lake, as well as the cover offered under the few boat docks found in the lake. Fish deeper brush piles or other deep lake structure throughout the remainder of the year.

CATFISH
Channel catfish far outnumber flathead catfish at Carters. Channels are typically around 1 ½ pounds, and the average flathead is usually 5-8 pounds in size.

Live or cut shad fished on weighted bottom rigs will produce dinner size catfish. Chicken livers, earthworms or catalpa worms are other common options for Carters’ "whiskered" resources.

Target the cracks and pockets found in rocky banks and points throughout the lake. Tangles of fallen logs and trees in the backs of coves are also likely hideouts for catfish.

OTHER SPECIES
Yellow bass are present in high numbers, but the species tends to be small in size. Anglers are encouraged to harvest yellow bass because this illegal introduction competes with larger, more desirable game fish. Bluegill are abundant, although most fish will be less than 6 inches in length.

Yellow bass can be caught with a host of small lures. However, jigging ¼-½ ounce spoons in and around structure is an effective approach for them. For bluegill action, a bucket of worms or crickets is all one needs.

Outside of spring, fish for yellow bass near deepwater structure anywhere in the lake. In April and May, spawn-run yellow bass will concentrate in the upper reaches of the Coosawattee River Arm of the lake. For bluegill, the shallows found in the backs of most coves are typical places to find this species.

Recreational Activities: 

Recreational opportunities which include camping, fishing, picnicking, boating, mountain biking and hunting.

Harris Branch Park has a public beach open from early May through Labor Day. Use caution when swimming there are no lifeguards at Harris Branch.

A $4.00 per vehicle use fee is charged at most day use areas at Carters Lake. Fees can be paid at self deposit fee vaults or at staffed entrance stations. Visitors may also purchase an Annual Pass that allows vehicles to gain access at no cost to Corps day use areas.

Facilities and Parks: 

Carters Lake has eight day-use areas which offer a variety of recreation facilities. Day use areas are located at Woodring Branch, Doll Mountain, Harris Branch, Ridgeway, N&S Re-regulation Areas, North Bank, Damsite, and Visitor Center.

In addition to individual picnic tables which are free, large picnic shelters that can accommodate groups can be reserved in advance for a $30.00 or $50.00 fee by calling the project office at (706)334-2248. Harris Branch Park has a public beach open from early May through Labor Day. Use caution when swimming there are no lifeguards at Harris Branch. A $4.00 per vehicle use fee is charged at most day use areas at Carters Lake. Fees can be paid at self deposit fee vaults or at staffed entrance stations. Visitors may also purchase an Annual Pass that allows vehicles to gain access at no cost to Corps day use areas.

Camping: 

WOODRING BRANCH CAMPGROUND 706/276-6050
Woodring Branch Campground has forty-two campsites, thirty-one have electrical and water hookups, the remaining eleven sites are tent only sites. Facilities at Woodring Branch include, a comfort station with hot showers and coin laundry, boat ramp with dock, playground, camper dump station, amphitheater, and an attendant on duty. Campsites with hookups are $20.00 and $22.00 per site and $16.00 per site without hookups. Woodring Branch also has a separate primitive camping area with twelve sites. Primitive site fees are $10.00 per night. Woodring Branch Campground is located approximately four miles off Hwy 282 on the north side of the lake.

DOLL MOUNTAIN CAMPGROUND 706/276-4413
Doll Mountain Campground has 65 campsites. Thirty-nine sites have electrical and water hookups, four of the electirc and water sites also have sewer, the remaining 26 sites are tent only sites. Facilities at Doll Mountain include: comfort stations with hot showers and coin laundry, boat ramp with dock, playground, camper dump station, amphitheater, and an attendant on duty. Campsites with hookups are $20.00 - $24.00 per site and $16.00 per night per site without hookups. Doll Mountain Campground is located approximately three miles off Hwy 382 on the south side of the lake.

HARRIS BRANCH CAMPGROUND 706/276-4545
Harris Branch Campground has 10 campsites. Individual campsites are available on a first come first serve basis only (no reservations). Facilities at Harris Branch include: comfort station with hot showers and coin laundry, playground, pay phone, and an attendant on duty. Campsites are $16.00 per site without hookups. Other facilities at Harris Branch include a group camping area ($60.00 per night) and a public beach. Harris Branch Campground is located approximately three miles off Hwy 382 on the south side of the lake.

BOAT-IN/HIKE-IN CAMPGROUND
Boat-in/Hike-in camping provides twelve primitive campsites with tables, tent pads, lantern holders and trash cans. Campsites are free and available year-round on a first-come-first-serve basis. There are primitive toilets but no drinking water. Boaters can tie up near their site and enjoy a waterfront site in a beautiful setting. The campground is located on a peninsula east of Carters Dam. Campers can also hike to sites along a newly constructed Amadahy Trail that begins at the barricade on the Woodring Branch access road. Distance to the campground from the trail head is approximately two miles one way.

RIDGEWAY CAMPGROUND
Ridgeway Campground has 20 primitive sites with tables, tent pads, lantern holders and trash cans. Additional facilities include a boat ramp, hiking and mountain bike trails. Water is provided (hand pump) and waterless toilets are also located in the campground. The park is open year-round. Campsites are $10.00 per night per site (pay at the self-deposit fee vault).

Boat Ramp: 

Carters Lake has seven public boat ramps for easy access. Boat ramps are located at Damsite, Doll Mountain, Woodring Branch and Ridgeway. The reregulation pool also has a boat launch located near the powerhouse off old Hwy 411.

All boaters launching outside a developed campground are required to pay a $4 day use fee or purchase an annual day use pass. No fee is required to launch at the reregulation pool ramp.

Carters Lake Marina is available to serve all your boating needs throughout the year. Cabin rentals can also be made by calling Carters Lake Marina at 706-276-4891. You can also visit the Carters Lake Marina Website at: http://www.carterslake.com/

Name: 
Carters Lake
Waterbody type: 
Reservoir
County: 
Murray
State: 
Georgia
Country: 
United States
Standard elevation: 
305
Latitude: 
34.614
Longitude: 
-84.637