It’s Christmas in Dixie with the opening of yet another hot fishing spot adjacent to Morgan County. The Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir recently opened to fishermen and boats equipped with electric motors and other watercraft that are self-propelled. That includes canoes, kayaks, and jon boats. Since the reservoir will serve as a drinking water supply for both Walton and Oconee Counties, gas-powered motors will not be allowed on the site at any time.
It is located in Walton County near the Northwest section of Morgan County and can be accessed from I-20 by taking the Rutledge/Newborn Exit from Madison and following the signs to Hard Labor Creek. Once you pass the HLC Golf course on Knox Chapel Road, you will take a right on Browning Shoals Road. The reservoir will be on your left. However, the public access boat ramp is located on Social Circle-Fairplay Road.
The lake will reach a full pool of around 1,370 acres and has been stocked with largemouth bass, bluegill, redear, shellcracker, channel catfish, black crappie and threadfin shad.
One local Morgan County angler gave us his lowdown on the angling opportunities after his first trip to the reservoir. Brett Richardson, 25, an avid angler from Morgan County said, “I spent about seven hours out there in my kayak and caught between 20-25 largemouth from 1-5 pounds. They were mostly in the three-pound range. Once I got them dialed in, it was pretty steady after that.” Richardson said his go-to bait was a Senko worm/stickbait with no curly tail fished on wacky rigs. He felt that the slow-falling, back-and-forth motion of the worm was what got them going. “I was catching them mainly on cover breaks in the green pumpkin color.” Richardson recalled the temperature readings on his Lowrance Hook 2 fishfinder reading in the 59-62 degrees range all day.
Other anglers suggested that most any type of soft plastics should work well for the bass, but spinnerbaits will be in every fisherman’s tackle box throughout the spring and summer. Warming temperatures will affect what baits fishermen will use, but the always-reliable topwater lures in the early morning hours are always a good choice. The flooded vegetation and grassy shoreline areas should provide all the habitat that bass and other species need to produce healthy populations.
The reservoir will fall under the regular Georgia state fishing regulations when it comes to size and creel limits for all species.
There is a price to use the facility. Parking is $10/day with or without a boat and/or trailer and daily parking passes can be purchased at the boat launch area. Annual parking permits can also be purchased through the Walton County Water Department for $60/year (residents of Oconee and Walton) or $75/year for non-residents.
However you look at it, this is going to be a prime-time fishing area for Morgan and neighboring counties for years to come.