Fishing at Tugalo Lake, Georgia
Arguably the most scenic lake in Georgia, 597-acre Lake Tugaloo is also one of the most remote. The incredible beauty of 1,000-foot walls rising straight up from the water?s edge and the possibility of truly trophy-sized largemouth bass make Lake Tugalo an interesting trip indeed. Georgia Power?s 155-foot high Tugalo Dam forms Lake Tugalo on the Tugaloo River. Oddly, the spelling of the river differs from the spelling of the lake and dam. In the Cherokee language ?Tugalo? means ?fork of a stream.? The dam is just downstream of where the Tallulah and Chattooga rivers join to form the Tugaloo River. Since it is so remote and nearly inaccessible, Tugalo does not receive heavy fishing pressure. What access points there are require a steep and winding drive on unpaved roads. Kayakers and whitewater rafters use the access point on the South Carolina side as a take-out after braving the class V rapids of the Chattooga River upstream of the lake. Key species: largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, crappie.
The shoreline is rugged and undeveloped, with the exception of two small boat ramps. A few primitive camping sites are scattered around the lake, which are only accessible by boat. The lakes small size and light boating traffic make it an ideal place for canoes and jon boats, and outboard motors are restricted to a 25 horsepower limit. A spawning run of white bass also occurs in the headwaters each spring.
Because of Lake Tugalos rugged terrain, bank fishing opportunities are not available. Boating access on the Georgia side of the lake is available through Tallulah Gorge State Park, which is located off Highway 441 in Tallulah Falls, Georgia. Motorists should be aware that four-wheel drive vehicles are strongly encouraged on this steep, rugged access road. Easier access is available a little further north on the South Carolina side of the lake. From Highway 441 in Clayton, Georgia, turn onto Highway 76 East. After crossing the Chattooga River Bridge, travel about three miles to Orchard Road. Turn right onto Orchard Road and proceed to the stop sign at the end of the road and turn right on to Battle Creek Road. In a couple of miles, the road forks. Bear to the right at this intersection. After passing Damascus Church, turn right onto the gravel road. This road will lead to the boat ramp, which becomes paved and very steep near the boat ramp.
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