Fishermen riding in a boat up the flooded Oconee River that now forms Lake Sinclair in Georgia have to pay close attention, or they may just forget what they came for and ride up the 45-mile long lake just taking in the gorgeous scenery. Sinclair isn’t one of the “big boys” of Georgia lakes, but it’s 15,000 acres or so of water is more like a long winding river with lots of coves and fingers and scenery. Within that expanse and along the 417 miles of shoreline lies great largemouth bass, striped bass and catfish, bream and crappie fishing.
Lake Sinclair is operated by Georgia Power, and provides both recreation and fishing. Located just north of Milledgeville and a bit further from Macon, this lake doesn’t draw the fishing pressure of some other state lakes. But it is busy with boaters and residents who live along the shore. Lake Sinclair has a slot limit for largemouths and produces really good catches of fish in the two and three pound range that have to be thrown back. Make sure if you fish here you check for up-to-date regulations involving the slots and regulations.
This is a good lake for less experienced bass anglers because much of the good fishing is along the banks, where spinnerbaits, crankbaits, jig and pig, plastic worms, lizards or buzz-baits of all types work well. When the fish aren’t shallow, you can catch them on deep brush piles and dropoffs. Night fishing for bass is popular here, especially in the late spring and summer. One thing that affects fish here is the current. Water is usually flowing through the lake, but sometimes when a pump-back operation is underway with Lake Oconee north of Sinclair, the water actually flows in reverse. Current is good for fishing, but makes largemouths reposition themselves to match where the food is.
Striped Bass fishing has fallen off in the past years, but an effort to restock the fish is paying off for medium range stripers already. Anglers catch them by trolling or bouncing artificial lures like bucktails in deeper water or by bottom fishing natural baits like cut shad or shiners. Crappie here are abundant, but most of the fish run small. Live minnows work best and the bigger fish are caught during the spawn. Bream are abundant, and can be caught around docks or weed beds. There are some huge shell crackers in the lake with some reaching more than 10 inches. The clear water makes it easy to spot spawning beds for bream and shellcrackers. They are saucer-shaped depressions which usually look like dark spots on the bottom.
Since it is a power company lake, the docks in Beaverdam Creek are good because of the warm water flowing from the steam plant. This keeps the water warmer, and provides regular current. There are a lot of docks in the area to fish as well. This lake has a much more stable water level than many regional lakes because it is kept near “full pool” for power generation purposes.
Lake Sinclair is largely used by lake residents and people who live and house their boats, watercraft and RVs on the lake. There is easy access to the water with two public boat ramps provided by Georgia Power and at marinas and boat storage areas located on the lake. Bonus fishing is available below the dam near Milledgeville and the lake has several recreation areas, such as Oconee Springs Park and Rocky Creek Park. They provide day-use facilities with picnic tables, grills, boat ramps and a small beach.
Camping spots and cabin rentals are available at Oconee Springs Park. The Little River Park Campground is a popular spot on the lake. There are several areas that are good for kayaking for fun or fishing as well. One is Murder Creek, located north of Twin Bridge Road. Lake Sinclair is just west of the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge, opening up 35,000 acres of woods to explore and 50 miles of trails to hike as an added bonus. There are shorter trails for families with smaller children.
There’s more. Located on the southeast side of the lake near Sinclair Dam, Lake Sinclair-Rocky Creek Park is a popular day-use area with access to Lake Sinclair. Facilities at the park include a pavilion with restrooms and vending machines, picnic tables, grills, fishing pier, swimming beach, playground, and a boat ramp. This park is open to the public each year from Memorial Day through Labor Day. If it’s an outing in town you are looking for, several area communities have unique shopping and dining opportunities.