The 10 Biggest Lakes in Georgia

Written by Taiwo Victor
Updated: May 28, 2022
Image Credit iStock.com/Eric Benz
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Georgia is well-known for its stunning natural beauty. It boasts different climate zones, ranging from the Mediterranean to subtropical, and natural scenery, including seas and high mountain settings, deserts, vineyards, forests, and glaciers. But one of the reasons Georgia is a place to visit is its magnificent bodies of water.

Dams created many of Georgia’s lakes, and most of the lakes on our list are no exception. These lakes provide excellent fishing and recreational boating opportunities, ranging from small, quiet lakes to massive party lakes. Since most of these lakes’ construction was under the Tennessee Valley Authority Act, which was signed into law by Franklin D. Roosevelt, each lake has its distinct history. A number of the lakes have villages or even bridges hidden beneath their serene waters. Below, we will explore the 10 biggest lakes in Georgia. 

The 10 Biggest Lakes in Georgia

    10. Lake Allatoona

Lake Allatoona
Offering pure drinking water to the surrounding communities, Lake Allatoona is one of the largest lakes in Georgia.

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Lake Allatoona is a reservoir built by the US Army Corps of Engineers on the Etowah River in Georgia’s northwest region. The ruins of Etowah’s town are now at the bottom of the lake. Flood control, hydroelectric power generation, water supply, quality, fish and wildlife management, and recreation are all possible uses of Lake Allatoona. With 270 miles of shoreline and 12,000 acres (48.6 km2) to explore, this massive lake is perfect for boating and fishing.

Not only is Allatoona beautiful, but it is also one of the cleanest lakes in the state that offers pure drinking water to the surrounding communities. Camping, boat ramps, marinas, and parks abound on Lake Allatoona. You can go to the swimming areas, rent a boat, have a great picnic, or go fishing while admiring the magnificent Georgia scenery.

    9. Lake Sinclair

Lake Sinclair is an artificial lake that boasts of 417 miles of shoreline.

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Situated in the historical heartland of Milledgeville, Georgia, you will find the gem of Lake Sinclair. Operated by Georgia Power, Lake Sinclair came to life in 1953. It is a man-made lake encompassing 15,300 acres (62.04 km2) of winding coves and several vast stretches of open water, boasting 417 miles of shoreline. It is a prime location for fishing, tournaments, swimming, boating, and camping and even offers several marinas for the convenience of locals and visitors. Since Lake Sinclair is one of the cleanest lakes in Georgia, there are no eating restrictions on the fish caught out of it. The clarity of the water on Lake Sinclair varies depending on where you go. This lake has mud, sand, and rock bottom and is not as pristine as mountain rock bottom lakes.

    8. Lake Oconee

Lake Oconee
A reservoir on the Oconee River, Lake Oconee covers a surface area of 19,071 acres.

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Lake Oconee is a reservoir on the Oconee River near Greensboro and Eatonton in central Georgia, United States. This large lake covers a surface area of 19,071 acres (77.09 km2) and has 374 miles of shoreline. Those who prefer to fish from the bank or a boat can find lots of fishing holes on the lake. Here you’ll find crappie, catfish, white bass, bluegill, stripers, hybrid striped bass, and sunfish. Just a river connects Lake Oconee and Lake Sinclair. Up the river is Lake Oconee—a family-friendly spot with local gift shops, on-site lodging, picnic areas, and options for boating, fishing, and golfing. The possibilities at Lake Oconee are virtually endless, from markets to boutiques, breweries, restaurants, and eateries. It is a must-see attraction on your next trip to Georgia Lake.

    7. West Point Lake

West Point Lake
Not just the smallest of the four major USACE lakes, West Point Lake also has the second shortest shoreline at 604 miles.

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West Point Lake is a 35-mile stretch of the Chattahoochee River on the Alabama-Georgia state line that we share with our Alabama neighbors. Maintained by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), it is the smallest of the four major USACE lakes, containing 25,864 acres (104.8 km2) of water and has the second shortest shoreline at 604 miles. Nonetheless, it still provides excellent opportunities for fishing, camping, boating, and other recreational activities for families and pets. Many animals, some of which are harmful to people, live in and around the lake. Two venomous snakes that thrive in the area are the copperhead and cottonmouth. The bluestripe shiner, southern brook lamprey, and high scale shiner are three fish on this list. Although there are American alligator sightings, they are exceedingly rare.

    6. Richard B. Russell Lake

Richard B. Russell Lake
Having 540 miles of shoreline, Richard B. Russell Lake is one of the biggest in Georgia.

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Richard B. Russell Lake (known to locals as simply “Lake Russell”) is a man-made reservoir built by the US Army Corps of Engineers by the construction of Richard B. Russell Dam on the Savannah River bordering Elbert County, Georgia, and Abbeville and Anderson counties in South Carolina. It offers a rural, pristine, and quiet setting with 21 public recreation areas where visitors enjoy recreational activities, including water sports, hunting, hiking, picnicking, camping, and fishing. The lake consists of 26,650 acres (108 km2) of water and 540 miles of shoreline, which has a couple of state parks that provide boating access and picnic spots. Lake Russell is distinctive in that it maintains a habitat for a diverse assemblage of warm-water, cool-water, and even cold-water sport fish. Bass, catfish, crappie, trout, sunfish, perch, and striped bass thrive here.

    5. Lake Lanier

Lake Lanier
Famous among anglers for its striped bass fishing, Lake Lanier stretches out over 37,000 acres.

iStock.com/Steve Samples

Lake Sidney Lanier, often referred to as Lake Lanier, is a reservoir that stretches out over 37,000 acres (150 km2) and 692 miles of shoreline along the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in northeast Georgia. There is too much to do in Lake Lanier in a single weekend, from shopping to fishing to tubing to dozens of different types of lodging; you will have to return to complete the fun. Lake Lanier is famous among striper anglers because of its excellent striped bass fishing. The lake has healthy populations of catfish, bass, crappie, sunfish, walleye, perch, and gar. However, because of its murky water covered with tree trunks and other debris that can easily entangle swimmers, Lake Lanier can be dangerous.

    4. Lake Seminole

Lake Seminole
It’s dangerous to swim in Lake Seminole because of the presence of alligators.

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Lake Seminole, located near the Florida border, is closer to the city of Tallahassee than any other metropolitan area in Georgia. Spanning 37,500 acres (152 km2), it is the perfect spot for fishing, boating, and birding. Although the area is well-known for its excellent goose hunting, it is also known for its variety of wildlife. Discover nature trails leading past gopher tortoise burrows, and you may also spot osprey and bald eagles.

Unfortunately, there is no safe swimming area in the lake because of the infamous alligators. The fish include largemouth bass, crappie, chain pickerel, catfish, striped bass, and other species. Picnic spaces, campers, and cottages provide beautiful views and easy access to the water. Seminole State Park surrounds a cove. Because of this, guests typically enjoy smooth waters for water skiing and tubing activities.

    3. Walter F. George Lake

Walter F. George Lake
Popularly known as the “Big Bass Capital of the World,” Walter F. George Lake is a popular year-round location for fishing.

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Walter F. George Lake (Lake Eufaula) is a 45,000-acre (182.8 km2) lake on the Chattahoochee River along the state line of Alabama and Georgia. Known as the “Big Bass Capital of the World,” it is a popular year-round location for fishing, boating, and other outdoor sports. Bass and sunfish love to hide among boat docks and bush, and the coastline of Lake Eufaula has enough of both.

Bass use this shallow cover for feeding and spawning in the spring, then migrate to outer structures such as points, islands, ledges, and creek channels in the summer. There are 800 miles of shoreline to explore, including sandy swimming beaches, high cliffs, and vibrantly wooded areas teeming with wildlife. There’s never a dull moment with outdoor activities such as boating, skiing, swimming, four-wheeling, fishing, hunting, and two state parks to explore.

    2. Lake Hartwell

Lake Hartwell, Georgia
The second-largest lake in Georgia is lake Hartwell.

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Lake Hartwell is the second largest lake in the state, with approximately 56,000 acres (226.6 km2) of water! Encompassing parts of the Savannah, Tugaloo, and Seneca rivers, Lake Hartwell has a 978-mile shoreline located at the border of Georgia and South Carolina. Hartwell is a great place to go fishing and boating. Abounding with largemouth and spotted bass, Hartwell also boasts hardy populations of striped bass, hybrid bass, black crappie, bream, trout, and stocked walleye. You’ll never feel crowded here because of the vastness, but you might feel lost. There are numerous marinas and lakeside restaurants around the lake, and there are fishing tournaments, boat rallies, and other events. Lake Hartwell is a little further from Atlanta, but it offers highly reasonable lake living alternatives and is not as crowded as other lakes.

    1. Clarks Hill Lake

Clarks Hill Lake
The biggest lake in Georgia is Clarks Hill Lake.

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Lake Strom Thurmond, officially designated J. Strom Thurmond Reservoir at the federal level, and Clarks Hill Lake in Georgia, is a man-made reservoir at the border between Georgia and South Carolina in the Savannah River Basin. It tops our list at 71,000 acres (290 km2) and is the third-largest artificial lake east of the Mississippi River. Its 1,000+ miles of shoreline offer plenty of fishing, boating, and Corps recreational areas. Hundreds of campgrounds, living villages, and attractive tiny towns are available to explore. Largemouth bass, striped bass, bluegill, redbreast sunfish, bass, and crappie fishing are prevalent at Clarks Hill, and the lake also has excellent shellcracker fishing during the late spring spawn and some giant catfish. 

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