It is time to get out those rods and reels as the 2019 fishing season at local reservoirs is now open.

This year’s public fishing season at the Henry County Water Authority (HCWA) opened March 1, and extends through the last weekend in November. The water authority provides access to select reservoirs each year for the public to enjoy outdoor recreation under the guidance and oversight of its Cubihatcha Outdoor Education Center in Locust Grove.

This year, HCWA customers with Reservoir Use Permits will be able to fish the Tussahaw and Upper Towaliga Reservoirs on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during the week, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Permits to access the Tussahaw and Upper Towaliga Reservoirs are available at the HCWA Headquarters, located at 1695 Highway 20 West in McDonough, during normal customer service hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. To obtain a permit, one must be a property owner or resident in Henry County, or a customer of the water authority. The HCWA Reservoir Use Permit is $45 and valid for one calendar year from the date of purchase. Discounts are available for seniors (62 and older) and citizens with disabilities. This HCWA permit provides access for fishing, boating (with non-gas motors), canoeing and kayaking. Also, customers with HCWA Permits can take a guest with them to the reservoir(s) for free. The HCWA averages approximately 1,300 Reservoir Use Permit sales, annually.

In addition to having an active Reservoir Use Permit, customers must sign the waiver/release form that accompanies their permit, possess a Georgia Fishing License for fishing the Tussahaw or Upper Towaliga, as well as adhere to all rules and regulations governing the use of HCWA reservoirs and Georgia public waters.

Public access to the Tussahaw Reservoir – which has a boat ramp and is accessible to citizens with disabilities – is available through the public use area on Tussahaw Island, which is located at the end of Collins Way off of Peeksville Road. The public can access the Upper Towaliga Reservoir at 160 Hunter Road in Locust Grove, which is off of Weems Road, coming from Hampton-Locust Grove Road.

The HCWA owns and operates five drinking water reservoirs, which collectively provide raw water storage of approximately 18 billion gallons for drinking water production and distribution to more than 60,000 customers.

The Tussahaw and Upper Towaliga are the two largest of the five HCWA reservoirs, accounting for more than 85 percent of the Authority’s raw water storage capacity. The 1,466-acre Tussahaw Reservoir, with 9.78 billion gallons of storage at full pool, is the newest of the HCWA reservoirs, opening in 2007. The 1,100-acre Upper Towaliga Reservoir, with 6 billion gallons of storage at full pool, was dedicated in honor of former HCWA Board Member Ed Cole.

These HCWA reservoirs are protected natural resources, operating according to more stringent regulatory standards than recreational lakes. However, that makes for ideal fishing conditions, according to authority officials.

Largemouth bass are among the coveted fish anglers are after and now is the best time to catch them according to officials. March and April is spawning season for bass – they will bed in shallows and the shade of trees, said a water authority technician.

“We are committed to providing access to our reservoirs on a limited basis, so the community can enjoy the outdoors and the opportunities for recreation these reservoirs provide,” said Lindy Farmer, HCWA General Manager. “We look forward to hosting another successful season of public fishing in 2019.”

Anglers may also want to check out the fishing forecasts for 32 Georgia reservoirs and 18 rivers, which are newly updated for 2019 and available on the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) website at https://georgiawildlife.com/fishing-forecasts.

“Each forecast is detailed with highly useable information and is connected to an interactive map, providing an additional layer of information to this already excellent resource,” said Thom Litts, Operations Manager for WRD Fisheries Management Section. “Last year, more than 25,000 anglers used these resources, so if you are not checking out these forecasts for your favorite water body before heading out, you are missing out.”

For more information on HCWA Public Fishing, including maps of boat ramps and access points for these two reservoirs, contact the Cubihatcha Outdoor Education Center staff at 678-583-3930, or log onto the Authority’s website at www.hcwa.com.

Chris Wood contributed to this article.

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