With 270 miles of shoreline, Lake Allatoona offers the perfect place to fling bait. Matt Driver of anglerradio.com says the best fish during the summer season are hybrids, white bass and spotted bass.
"As it gets warmer, catfish will come out at night," the Hiram resident said.
Driver has been an angler all his life, starting at the age of 3. He works full time as a lieutenant for the Atlanta Fire Department, but when he isn't working, he's on the lake. Driver also works with Peach Kids to help children, "get off video games and TV and enjoy the outdoors."
He teaches kids the A to Zs of fishing, which includes the best places and times to fish and "how to maximize the amount of fish they catch." Driver didn't want to brag about how many tournaments he'd won; but he did confirm he'd been in hundreds, and took home trophies in several.
While Georgian landlubbers suffer through the ongoing drought, Driver assures that the fish are not directly affected. This is mostly due to the Army Corps of Engineers monitoring the lake levels during the summer and winter. During the winter, the lake level is lowered to 823 feet, while the regular level in summer is 842 feet.
Still, even though the fish are plentiful, fishers should keep to the directions given by the Georgia Division of the Natural Resource Department. Driver said the department is paying special attention to spotted bass in the Allatoona area.
"They're advising fishermen to keep the little ones and let the big ones go," said Driver, counterintuitive to the usual code of anglers.
Yet fishers will have plenty of opportunities to show off their skills with a rod and lure. Allatoona Team Tour hosts a plethora of pot tournaments throughout the summer, of which anyone can join to compete.
Fishing can also help stimulate the economy. According to the Wildlife Resource Division of Georgia's Natural Resource Department, anglers both in and out of state spend $569 billion annually on the sport. Around 10,000 jobs involve fishing, which produces a whopping $15 million in state income and $19 million in taxes.
The DNR has also implemented the Go Fish initiative in Georgia, encouraging the promotion of angler resources, such as working for better water quality and seeking more boat ramps.
Jim Hakala, a fishery biologist for the Wildlife Resource Department of Georgia, gives simple advice to keep the water clean for fish.
"Obviously be careful filling your boat," he said. "Don't let the gas get in the water. Also, mind your trash."
Hakala, however, said fish in Allatoona are not in danger.
"Allatoona is stocked every year as a means to diversify fish for anglers to pursue," Hakala said. "It also limits the number of shad fish."
He reminds anglers that a Georgia fishing license is required, which is attainable through the Department of Natural Resources. As far as finding a place to fish, Hakala said that on Allatoona, "access to boaters is pretty good." A listing of boat ramps can be found on the lake Allatoona website, as well as a map that marks recreational areas.
Driver advised that the best place to fish on Allatoona Lake is in the mid-lake area, from Steen Creek to the Gulf's Ferry area.
Rob Eidson, operator of the First Bite Guide Service on Allatoona Lake and winner of three fishing championships, also recommends morning bites at the mouth of all the creeks.
"Down lining is the best method to catch striper," he said.
Overall, the Georgia Wildlife Division along with Go Fish are helping to improve the condition of fishing in Georgia. Given its abundance, particularly in black bass and hybrids, Allatoona Lake is a worthwhile place to hop on a boat, cast a line and let it, as well as all the worries in the world, sink to the bottom of the water.