From our coast to the mountains fishing is good in the summer months and some of the best fishing this time of year is also near activities sure to please any family desires. Check out these possibilities this summer.
Augusta may not seem like a place with a lot of activities but what is available in the area might surprise you. No matter what the fishermen in your family likes to catch, you can find a wide variety of possibilities. And the history of the area has been highlighted by preservation efforts. If you want more active experiences you can find them, too.
Lake Thurmond is only a few miles away and it is the biggest lake in the southeast. From bass and crappie to catfish and stripers, the lake is full of fun to catch fish. Several guides in the area will take you out and show you what to do, and they provide all the equipment you need so you don’t have to pack it. Or you can bring along your tackle and explore on your own.
In June bass hit topwater baits early around shoreline cover like stumps, rocks and hydrilla. Soap Creek, Fishing Creek, Germany Creek and Lloyd Creek are all good. For crappie fish standing timber near creek and river channels with jigs and minnows. Sight fishing for schooling hybrids and stripers is good during the day. Look for them on offshore humps and ridges.
If you want to catch a smallmouth bass you probably don’t think of the Augusta area but the Savannah River downstream of the Thurmond dam has cool enough water to allow the illegally stocked smallmouth to thrive. You can wade the rocky shoals and catch them on fly or casting tackle. You have to be careful due to the release of water at the dam since it can rise fast, but if you pay attention it is a lot of fun to wade and fish.
For a more relaxed outing the McDuffie Public Fishing Area about 30 miles away has stocked ponds where you can catch bass, bream and catfish. Fishing from the bank is good and some of the ponds have handicapped access, to anyone can catch fish there. Kids will love the ease of catching bluegill there and you can fish from the bank to make it more fun if they want to explore.
This month the fishing is good at any of those three options.
For the historian in the family August has a rich past. You can tour old mills that have been renovated into shopping areas so the shopper in your family can have fun. Boat tours of the canal gives you a good view of the mills and the remains of the Confederate Powder Works, where most of the gunpowder for the Confederacy was produced.
The Lock and Dam Park on the Savannah River has interesting history and good hiking trails, as well as the chance to see how nature can be restored at Phinizy Swamp. Wildlife viewing is good there and you can fish there, too. Another park on the canal has history, trails and offers access to the river for smallmouth fishing.
For baseball fans, the minor league Augusta Greenjackets play 12 home games this month. Eating out is always a highlight of summer vacation and you can find local restaurants that serve anything you want. There are lots of Southern favorites and other places offer everything from fast food to find dining.
The Morris Museum of Art is the first one dedicated to highlighting Southern Art, and other cultural activates range from ballet to theater. Augusta is the home of James Brown and you can find clubs with everything from jazz and blues to country and rock.
Golfers won’t be able to play around at famed Augusta National, home of the Masters, but there are about a dozen courses open to the public in the area. There are also several tennis courts open to the public in Augusta. Wildwood Park on Thurmond offers something a little different, with three championship disk golf courses, where you play with Frisbees. It also offers camping, boat ramps and bank fishing as well as picnic areas
Everybody likes the beach and Jekyll Island is a family vacation destination that is sure to please. Its long beaches are not crowded in many areas and you will be sharing them with other families, not rowdy partiers. You can fish for saltwater and freshwater fish in the area and there are many tours and adventures available.
You can catch anything from sharks to redfish in saltwater near Jekyll Island and the rivers give you a chance for freshwater species, too. Some big sharks are caught from the Jekyll Island Pier each year and you can join locals in trying to hook one. The pier in St. Simons Island, just across the bay, also offers good fishing the there is lots of shopping and dining near it.
Charters will take you into the bays and river mouths for tarpon, flounder, weakfish and redfish. Or you can go off shore for mackerel, tripletail, tarpon and Jack Crevalle. The charters provide all the equipment you need or you can bring your own. Surf fishing for whiting and other species can be good, too.
For freshwater fish like bass and bluegill, you can bring your boat and put in at Two Way Fish Camp and go up the Altamaha or choose a public ramp. There are also freshwater guides that will provide anything you need for those species. For fun with the kids you can find bank access at several bridges and catch saltwater cat and other species that bite readily.
For lots of action, go to area boat ramps and parks and bait up with bits of shrimp. Any kind of fish in the water will eat it and you can catch a wide variety. Usually the best fishing is when the tide first starts going out or coming in. Use fairly small hooks and enough weight to keep your bait on the bottom.
If you want to play tennis or golf several public courts and courses are available, and kids and adults have a lot of fun at the putt putt courses. There are miles of bicycle paths on the island and you can rent one at several hotels for a ride. Or you can hike the trails. Just bring good bug spray!
Wildlife viewing is great. Ever seen an alligator? If you hike the trails you are likely to find a pond with one sunning on the bank. Birding is great with many species here in July. And you can hike the beaches early in the morning and see tracks sea turtles make coming in to lay their eggs overnight. Just don’t disturbed the nests.
As you would expect, seafood is fresh and tasty here. Shrimp are cooked right off the boat and other kinds of fish and shellfish are common in the local restaurants. Some of them offer the best chowders you can find. Or you can find southern cooking to find dining in Brunswick and on St. Simons and Sea Island.
Tours of the old homes built by some of the richest families in the US back in the early 1900s have been restored and offer a fascinating glimpse of how they lived. You can even stay at some that have been restored as hotels and others have meals available. The hotels are fairly expensive but there is a campground on the island it you prefer that option.
Dolphin and marsh tours by boat are a family favorite and readily available from local marinas. Eco tours of Raccoon Key give you an idea of the importance of marshes to the environment and you will see a lot of different kinds of wildlife.
More active opportunities are kayak tours and horseback riding by local companies. The kids are sure to love the local water park and can spend a full day there having fun. Shopping can be very active from some and there is plenty to keep even the most avid shopper happy in the area.
Need to cool off from the summer heat? The mountains around Helen and Unicoi State Park offer good places to catch fish and beat the heat. And the family can go rafting on rivers, try a zip line, hike, shop and find many other things to do if they don’t want to fish.
Most folks think of trout fishing when they head to the hills in North Georgia and it is good, but there are other species to catch, too. For trout you can choose to hike up smaller streams and try for native bookies, a real challenge, or catch stocked fish in bigger waters like the Chatooga River.
Lake Blue Ridge is not far away and offers your best chance to catch a smallmouth bass in a Georgia lake. You will need a boat to fish it. Cast small topwater plugs on main lake points early in the morning and late in the day then back off and fish a jig head worm 20 to 30 feet deep. You will also catch a lot of spotted bass doing this.
For the kids, a trip to the Burton Fish Hatchery on Moccasin Creek feeding Lake Burton is in order. Kids and seniors over 65 years old can fish in the creek and there are special ponds with trout available there, too. You can also put a boat in Lake Burton and have fun catching spotted and largemouth bass and hybrids. Bluegill fishing is also very good on the lake.
The State Park at the hatchery also has canoe rentals, picnic areas, swimming and hiking. A tour of the hatchery is also interesting to most family members. For something a little different, you can download GPS coordinates and go on a Park or History Geo tour.
Unicoi State Park is a great destination. You can rent a cabin, stay in a lodge room or camp. Picnic shelters are in the park and good food is available in the dining room and there are a lot of activities in the park. Fish the local lake or streams, hike trails and visit Anna Ruby Falls. The park lake also has a swimming beach. You can rent canoes and kayaks for a day on the water or just sun and swim.
Want to play tennis or golf? Several courts are in the park or nearby, and there are a lot of choices for public golf courses. If you want to be even more active, bring your mountain bike and get a permit for the trails that will test your endurance. Birding is good in the area and you can also see plant species specific to the mountains.
Kids will love a tour of the Cabbage Patch Kids Baby Land General in nearby Cleveland. Shoppers will enjoy all the stores in Helen and it has been designed to resemble an Alpine village in Europe, so expect to find many types of beer and food there.
If you have never tried a zip line, you should visit Chattooga Ridge Canopy Tours about an hour’s drive from Unicoi. You will get safety training then zip through the tree tops and over a small lake while hanging from a cable and harness. Exciting and fun for all over the age of ten. The guides will tell you about the flora and fauna of the area and you get to examine the trees from a close-up view seldom seen.
The same company and many others in the area offer rafting on the Chattooga River. What better way to cool off in the summer heat than getting splashed by cold water as you shoot the rapids. Kids love it and adults find it exciting.
If you ever wanted to go prospecting for gold and gems, head over to Dukes Creek Mining Company between Helen and Cleveland. The folks that own the company will give you instructions on panning for gold and gems and help you identify what you find. It is great fun for all ages.
There are wild bears in the North Georgia mountains but you don’t wan tot get too close to them. If you want to see bears up close and safely, try the Black Forest Bear Park and Reptile Exhibit in Helen. Warning, some people are disappointed and some hate it because wild animals are penned up.
But many love seeing bears and there are usually some cubs that will make you want to take them home. Kids and adults can enjoy this experience and it is not very expensive. Just be prepared for the smell of animals and the fact they are penned up.
No matter where you want to go in Georgia, or want you want to do this summer, you can have a great vacation.