Carter's Lake is an impoundment of the Coosawatee River and is located half-way between Atlanta and Chattanooga. Except for a single, small marina and a couple of state ramps, there are no docks or lakeside residences on the lake. In many places, you can't even see any man-made structure. The lake has corresponding boat traffic as well -not nearly what you would see on bigger lakes, like Lanier, Allatoona, or Chickamauga.Being remote, relatively uninhabited, and full of big fish makes this lake one of the best destinations I know of for someone looking for a really enjoyable fishing excursion.
If you're an avid fisherman, you have probably heard that Carter's is a "tough" lake to fish. I think those comments can be said for any lake in the southeast that has big spots. People tend to beat banks, and for most if the year, spots simply aren't on the banks --they're offshore. Most anglers aren't comfortable getting offshore, and so they struggle, and then spread word that Carter's is tough. Well, you can read my fishing reports, browse my gallery, and talk to my clients, and they'd probably disagree!
Now, there are times when Carter's is genuinely tough, even for the best anglers. Passing weather and seasonal patterns are DIRECTLY linked to the bite. If it is tough, I'll tell you, and we can go somewhere else where the bite is better. But in general, the bite on Carter's is good most of the year.
Carter's is deep, the banks are steep, and the bottom is mostly rock, sand, and clay. There are several places on the lake with emergent standing timber, and most of the lake below 60 feet has submerged standing timber.
The impression most anglers get when coming to the lake is that it is slap full of fish. There are times when it seems your sonar never quits painting fish. They're everywhere. The lake has huge populations of Alewife that stay deep for most of the year, but it also has a ba-zillion threadfin shad up to 5", and lots of big gizzard shad. In warmer months, we have spot-tail minnows all along the banks, particularly around sandy areas and boat ramps.
As for game, the real draw to the lake are the big spots. These things are mean, pull like a freight train, and you probably won't find a lake with more big spots than Carter's. But we also have big largemouth, big walleye, giant striper (40 lbs +), overgrown hybrids, crappie, bluegill, HUGE carp, catfish, yellow bass,...something is almost always eating something else on Carter's. And low fishing pressure keeps these fish big and plentiful.
Set your alarm a little earlier, make the drive, and come fishing with me. I promise you won't regret it.
Dam Site Ramp Location
This is the ramp I will use 99% of the time.
Woodring Ramp Location
Doll Mountain Ramp Location
Here is DNR Fisheries Biologist Jim Hackala talking about Carter's Lake:
Special thanks to Hook 'n Look for the video clip.