Sometimes you just want to get away to a quiet retreat, lose the crowds and see some different water. In central Georgia, two large ponds in Macon County deserve a date on your outdoor calendar for great fishing and outdoor fun this fall.
White Water Pond
First, we will take a look at the 65-acre White Water Pond, located at Whitewater Creek Park. The park and pond is owned and operated by Macon County.
The park has a long history in Macon County, and it started as a pioneer grist mill for early settlers when the county was formed in 1837. Georgia Power built a hydro-power generator on the site back in the 1940s, but it was later abandoned, and the land became a state park for many years. Several years ago, the state gave up management of some of its smaller parks, and Macon County assumed ownership of the park.
Recently, Darin Barfield, the park manager for Whitewater Creek Park, and I unloaded his small, 10-foot boat at the park’s boat ramp and headed up the lake to try and put some bream into the boat. The middle section of the lake has plenty of hydrilla, but Barfield keeps a boat channel open so that anglers can get to the main channel. In the upstream section, it is hard to miss the main channel of White Water Creek, as it is well defined and has a steady current. If you like good stream fishing, this could be your honey hole, as the stream is fishable 2 1/2 miles upstream. There are many small pockets of grass to explore just off from the channel.
Once upstream, Barfield and I dangled crickets under a cork to every fishy spot as we slowly drifted downstream. The bream and bass usual hangout along the edges of the grass in the calmer water, and we had steady interest in our offerings. We put numerous bream in the boat, everything from three fingers in size to 1-lb.-plus bluegill.
Barfield said the south side of the lake usually produces more bream. Straight out from the boat ramp about 100 yards is some open water that has a lot of debris scattered on the bottom, and this is a bream hangout, he said. Look for the wood fence on the south bank, and fish about 50 yards north of it in the large open pockets of water.
The best crappie location is the deeper water out in front of the dam, but drifting a minnow down the creek can pay off, too.
Geno Reeves is a regular bass angler in the lake, and he has recently pulled in two whopper bass, one 10.4 pounds and another 11.2 pounds. Both these bass were caught in June in the deeper water just out from the swimming area on junebug-colored worms. Don’t be surprised if a large jackfish or catfish takes your bait.
Kayak anglers can put in behind the dam, next to White Water Baptist Church and fish downstream.
Duck hunters sometimes pay their $5 dollars, put in at the lake boat ramp and shoot ducks in the upstream section.
Rob Weller, WRD fisheries biologist in Albany, says White Water Pond is a popular local pond, but the high amount of water that passes over the dam can make it difficult to manage, although it still can provide good fishing. The local office has photos of numerous bass in the 8- to 12-lb. range, and the largest known bass from the pond weighed 13 pounds.
A few years ago, Macon County used local SPLOST monies and a state grant to upgrade the park facilities, so you will find the park in great condition. The park is open year-round and offers excellent tent and RV camping, pavilions, fishing, hiking and cabin rentals. For the kids, there is a small fishing pond, playground equipment, a sand beach and a splash pad.
The park is open from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m., and the office is open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Park admission for fishing is $5 per day, per vehicle, and you can pay at the office or the pay box at the boat ramp.
Any sized boat can be put in, although it may only be operated at idle speed. State fishing regulations apply.
For more information, go to www.maconcountyga.gov/whitewater-creek-park.cfm, or call (478) 472-8171 or (478) 244-2475. The park is located at 165 White Water Road in the town of Oglethorpe.
Also in Macon County is the Mennonite Pond, although it’s no longer owned by the Mennonites. On Google Earth, the pond is named Horse Head Creek Lake, but the locals simply call it the Mennonite Pond
In 1986, Dave McKay, a retired teacher and coach from Ohio, moved to Macon County and purchased 300 acres, which included the pond. McKay leases the majority of his land to Barrington and High Brighton Dairies, which have 7,500 cows in the county.
There is a large Mennonite population in the area that moved here in 1956 from Virginia. They are a positive, hard-working group and are a big part of the local farming and business community. The Mennonites allowed fishing for a low, $3 per day fee, and McKay has continued that practice.
Recently, I had the chance to talk with Chuck Williams, the owner of Chucks Gun and Pawn in Warner Robins, and I asked him where locals were fishing. He said a lot of anglers come in to buy worms and crickets and head to the Mennonite Pond, so that required a fishing trip to check it out.
To reach the lake, take Highway 224 from Perry, and turn left onto Mennonite Church Road. Travel 1.7 miles to a sharp curve in the road. This curve will be about 200 yards past the Mid Georgia Farm Service store. At the curve, turn left on Duck Pond Road. Travel this road for a short 300 yards, and take a left on an unnamed small dirt road (Miller Road on Google Earth). Travel 1.3 miles to the farm house and small wooden building on the left where you pay your $3 per person to fish. Then follow the road down to the pond and the boat ramp, which is next to the dam.
When you pull into the house area, look for the pay box next to the old wooden building, usually sitting on the ground next to the door. Take an envelope from the box, put your money in it ($3 per person), and write your tag number on the envelope. Then deposit it in the slot in the door.
The 80-acre pond allows 15 crappie, 25 bream and one catfish to be kept each day, but all bass fishing is catch and release, and there are some whoppers in the lake. Fishing is allowed daily from sunrise to dusk, and no night fishing is allowed.
My fishing partner of this trip was Judge George Nunn, of Perry. Now in semi-retired status as a senior judge, he served many years as chief judge of the Houston Judicial Circuit. It was my honor to serve that court as chief probation officer for many years. Now Judge Nunn and I do important things, like go fishing.
Judge Nunn and I fished for bass around the shoreline cover with Texas-rigged worms and surface minnow baits, but the bass were elusive. Usually the bass hang around the debris in the back of the pond, but a weather front had passed through the night before and the bass had lockjaw. A floating frog, chrome Rapala or a yellow/white spinnerbait is the usually the ticket in these areas.
According to McKay, a 13-pounder was caught in the pond.
We also used worms and crickets in the backs of coves and around overhanging brushes to put a lot of bluegill and shellcracker in the boat. We ran across a few other anglers, and they had caught lots of bream, pulled in from just off the grass edges. Randy Meadows, Casey Hodges and Lee Cooper, all from Bibb County, pulled in more than 100 bream on crickets and culled them to keep about 30 hand-sized bream.
The White House Farm Bed and Breakfast and the Yoder’s Deitsch Haus restaurant, both operated by the Yoder family in Montezuma, offer visitors a glimpse of life in a Mennonite community. Give them a try after you put some fish in the cooler.