On two recent weekends in November, I decided to get some outdoor time with my camera instead of my rod and reel. In search of Autumn foliage but without a full day to head up to the North Georgia Mountains, I instead went west to Sweetwater Creek State Park. Less than 30 minutes from my home in Decatur, I was surprised to find a beautiful park with such a remote feeling only one exit west of Six Flags. On the topic of fishing, I found some good and some bad, but there is nothing ugly at this Georgia State Park.
I really had two reasons for visiting Sweetwater Creek. Besides my interest in photography, I wanted to see what the park had to offer to anglers. The George Sparks Reservoir is on my list of Metro Atlanta Lakes for detailed discussion on this website, and I thought I could do some preliminary research.
The Georgia Department of Natural Resouces (DNR) lists George Sparks Reservoir as a 215-acre lake. At the moment, that is purely wishful thinking, and that's the "Bad" in the title of this article. The State Park operates a boat ramp ($2 daily ramp fee) just before the main park entrance, but the ramp is high and dry. The floating dock is sitting on now-dry land. There is also a bait shop in the boat ramp parking lot, but I didn't have the opportunity to stop in and talk with anyone -- or, for that matter, to even see if the bait shop is still open during this drought.
I suspect, however, that the bait shop is open, because a DNR employee at the Sweetwater Creek State Park visitors center told me that many people are still fishing downstream of the reservoir on the park's namesake, Sweetwater Creek. The "Good" is that he creek was still flowing, although the DNR employee told me that it's lower than normal, and the usual whitewater enthusiasts are unable to run the mulititude of shoals.
Sweetwater Creek is easily accessible for bank fishing. A mile-long trail runs along the creek, with many spots where you can walk to the water's edge. With the current low water level, you can also walk out onto the shoals downstream from the parking lot. I only had my camera gear on my two recent visits, so I don't have any fishing tips to provide, but if you're looking for some solitude while fishing you will want to plan to visit on a weekday. As you would expect for a park so close to Atlanta, there were a lot of visitor on my two Sunday afternoon visits. However, the creekside trail (designate the "red trail" on park maps) does become somewhat strenous at about the half-mile mark, with a long, steep stairway at one point. The family factor lessens after this, so keep going farther downstream for more solitude.
Back to the reservoir for a moment: It did appear that a group of people was taking advantage of the low water level to install or repair fish attractors in the lake. At first I thought it was a group of volunteers removing old tires that had been dumped in the lake Then I saw that there were stacks of tires all across the dry lakebed, and they were attached in groups of four or five to form pyramids or long tunnels. I'm assuming that these are either old fish attractors that are now exposed, or were being placed in preparation for the lake's eventual return to a full pool. Again, I wish I had the time when I was there to stop and inquire.
If you want to visit Sweetwater Creek State Park, here are some links to help you plan your trip (links will open in a new page). Check back here on GeorgiaFishingLakes.com for a full discussion of George Sparks Reservoir.
Map - Google map for location and directions to George Sparks Reservoir and Sweetwater Creek State Park
Sweetwater Creek State Park - This is the "official" information from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources
Friends of Sweetwater Creek State Park - This state purpose of this non-profit volunteer organization is "protecting, preserving, and carefully developing the rich nature and history of Sweetwater Creek State Park."