As fishermen, we love to discover wonderful new honey holes where the fishing is outstanding. Having said that, the 144-acre Lake Meriwether in west-central Georgia near Woodbury should be on your must visit list for 2016.
Lake Meriwether is the drinking water impoundment for Woodbury, thus only electric trolling motors can be used, but you can have a gas motor on your boat. The fishing is available to anyone with a current fishing license.
The lake was completed in 1968 and has a drainage area of 3,889 acres, and it sits 770 feet above sea level. The dam is 37 feet high, but the deepest water in the lake is 22 feet.
For many years, John Heard was the lake caretaker, but he passed away in 2015. His family and friends built the present lake business office, called Dad’s Cabin in his honor, according to his son, Ronnie Heard. The present caretaker and goodwill ambassador of Lake Meriwether is Robert Lovett. The lake has a beautiful country setting with plenty of wildlife around.
On March 12, I teamed up with local fishing guide Tracy Hall, of Two Fishes Guide Service, to try to put some crappie in the boat, and we had a great day on the water. Tracy works at the Columbus Water Works but lives near the lake. When he’s not working, he operates Two Fishes Guide Service, which specializes in fishing on Lake Meriwether. He and his clients have had good luck in fishing for Lake Meriwether crappie in recent years. He keeps a log of all his fishing trips, and in 2014, he made 53 trips to the lake and landed 2,700 crappie. Some were kept by anglers and others donated to needy families as he felt the lake was over populated with small crappie, but some were released.
Tracy strictly casts crappie jigs and has all his jigs custom-made for himself and his clients. He likes a 1/32-oz. jig with a sickle hook that is wound with combo colors like white/chartreuse or various metallic sparkle colors. His jigs look more like trout streamers than crappie jigs, but they work for him.
He does not troll but prefers to get over structure like sunken trees and cast out the jigs and then watches them slowly sink. He says the jigs sink about 1 foot per second, and he uses that method to get his jig down to the proper depth where his Lowrance X67 shows the crappie holding. He’s a line watcher, so as soon as he sees the slightest twitch of the line, he sets the hook. He also fishes around fallen trees and brush along the bank, always looking for those bigger fish.
Tracy likes to drift around the lake and has no anchors on his 17-foot Hydra Sports boat. His fishing rigs are ultra-light Quantum XL reels, which are not made anymore, matched with 5-foot B’n’M SharpShooter rods. The reel is loaded with 4-lb. test line mono. He has caught just about any type of fish with this light rig in Lake Meriwether, including a 43-lb. carp and a 10-lb. bass, but some chasing was involved to keep his line from breaking. His biggest crappie from the lake weighed 3 pounds.
To locate crappie in the lake, Tracy likes to hit the two main-lake points where the water drops off about 10 to 12 deep. He looks for a few sunken trees, and the fish are normally holding about 6 feet down. His favorite point is straight across the lake from the boat ramp.
The main creek that feeds the lake is Cane Creek. It comes in from the southwest side of lake through a large pipe under Owens Road. The pipe discharge is a good spot for crappie, bream and catfish. The other major cove comes in from the northwest. This big cove has some deeper water in the middle with a few stumps that is good for trolling for crappie. Take a look at the lake by going to Google Earth, and type in Lake Meriwether, Georgia.
Other regular crappie anglers are Danny Atkinson and Rodney Eaton, of Woodbury. They were on the lake while we were fishing and put about 30 nice crappie in their boat, all caught on live minnows. Danny says it is important to be on the water at first light or the last hour of the day for best luck with crappie. His rig is a simple medium-sized crappie hook, a small bb weight and a cigar-shaped cork tossed out with a medium-sized spinning or closed-face reel. He runs the minnow about 5 feet below the cork, tosses it out into every little pocket along the bank and lets the minnow do its magic.
Two other good crappie anglers are Frank and Kyle Rhodes, of Molena. They showed me a bunch of nice crappie caught on minnows along the shoreline as the fish were preparing to spawn.
Big bass are numerous in the lake, according to Robert Lovett, and while I was fishing, I had Jimmy Smith and Charlie Pike, of Greenville, swing by and show off a nice 7-pounder. It was caught at 8:45 a.m. close to the shore while it was chasing bait on the surface. Seeing the opportunity, Jimmy cast a Pop-R in a frog pattern to the swirl and hooked up the bass.
The lake has also been good to bass angler Michael Youngblood, a construction worker from Thomaston. Michael has landed two trophy bass from the lake this year, one caught in January that weighed 12 pounds and another in early March that weighed 10 pounds. The biggest bass hit a deep-diving Strike King crankbait, while the 10-pounder bit a chartreuse/white Booyah spinnerbait. Surprisingly, both bass were caught in mid-afternoon, about 2 p.m., says Michael. This is an older lake, says Robert, and the bass have had time to grow to trophy size.
In addition to crappie and bass, the lake has a good population of bream and catfish. The Georgia DNR regularly stocks catfish in the lake. Robert says catfish up to 40 pounds have been caught, but the average-sized cat is 1 to 2 pounds.
Tracy and I put several bream in the boat, and he recommends that anglers look for the round, bowl-shaped beds in April and May. Look for beds that can be found in 1 to 3 feet of water around the shoreline, and drop in a cricket or worm for some great action and tasty eating.
To contact Tracy Hall and his Two Fishes Guide Service, call (706) 741-5366. We had a great day on the water together.
Lake Meriwether and the surrounding park is a great place to fish, camp and enjoy the outdoors. Fishing is $2 per day, and camping is only $5. The small wooden Dad’s Cabin next to the boat ramp is where you pay the fees. Camping with lights and water is $15 per day, and there is a nice family pavilion available for $35 per day.
The lake is open every day from sunrise to sunset and is regularly patrolled by the local police. General state fishing regulations apply on the lake. The lake is located at 728 Lake Meriwether Road, Woodbury, Ga.
Other attractions in the area are Warms Springs, FDR Park and Callaway Gardens. If you have any questions, contact Robert Lovett at (706) 553-3741 or cell (706) 975-3110, and he hopes to see you at the lake soon.