• A pair of paddlers are the only ones on the lake as they head toward the Georgia Power Company dam and powerhouse. Photo/Angie Ramage
  • Jerry Snell of Toccoa captured this image while fishing one foggy fall morning when suddenly the sun burned through the fog. Snell entitled this shot, Sunlight from Heaven.
  • Lake residents join with Georgia Power Co. employees to conduct periodical log rodeos on the lake ñ a roundup of floating logs and downed trees.
  • Toccoa photographer Andy Griner captured the serenity of Lake Yonah with this aerial photo. The lake's waters appear as still as glass.

Lake Yonah: A Northeast Georgia treasure

Some say it’s so special because of the solitude and serenity it invokes.

Some say it’s the scenic combination of foliage, sky and nearby mountains that make it one of Northeast Georgia’s treasures.

Still others say the uniqueness of the place is married to the water itself.

Whatever the reason, everyone says Lake Yonah is a special to live or visit.

Kim Hudgins said she and her family cherish their residence on Yonah because of the peace and quiet.

“No phones, no internet. Complete quiet!,” Hudgins said. “Most of the other houses have phones and internet, we just don't. Cell service is hit or miss. Everyone should go up and sit on their porch and porch and enjoy the quiet. That’s when you will understand it if you experience it.”

Lake Yonah is formed from the waters of the Tugaloo River which begins with the junction of the Tallulah and Chattooga rivers, just upriver from the Tugalo Dam.

The lake was created in 1925, when Georgia Power Company built a dam across the Tugaloo River. It was the final of six dams and reservoirs the company constructed on a 26-mile stretch of the Tallulah and Tugalo Rivers.

The lake measures 325 acres of surface and 7 miles of shoreline that sports only 70-80 lakefront houses.

Compare that to nearby Lake Hartwell, which has 56,000 acres of water surface and 962 miles of shoreline.

There’s a variety of recreational opportunities including fishing, hiking, boating, camping kayaking and picnicking.

The fishing is especially good. Just ask Toccoa resident Jerry Snell.

“Oh, it’s my favorite spot to fish,” Snell said. “I go up there in the mornings and find myself the only person on the lake. A lot times in the evenings, my wife and I’ll will go to Yonah and take a picnic with us and eat on the boat, and I might fish a little.”

Kevin Dallimer of Fishing Georgia agrees.

“The fishing in Yonah is similar to the lakes above it. The total standing crop of fish in the lake is low compared to the more fertile waters of the Piedmont and Coastal Plain, but there are still plenty of fish to interest the angler, some trophy-sized,” Dallimer said.

“The lake gets little fishing pressure, and is a good destination if you want to get off the beaten path but not go to much trouble doing it. Key species are largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, crappie,” Dallimer said.

Tom Haynie of the BackShortly blog relished his time kayaking the lake.

“The entire paddle didn’t take long at all, less than four hours - it’s a nice little lake providing a quiet place to paddle while enjoying the shoreline more completely. From the reports I have read the fishing is excellent, probably because it is in a little-known corner of Georgia.” Haynie writes.

Max Brock of Toccoa says the serenity is nice on Lake Yonah as is the foliage which includes bursts of color from mountain laurel and rhododendron in May and June.

But for him, Lake Yonah is special, well, because it’s a lake.

“We just love the water. Boating, and both of our girls learned to ski there. It’s just a nice place to be on the water,” he said.

Lake Yonah’s water is even important to the residents of Toccoa some eight miles away.

That’s because the lake augments the city’s own raw water supply. In other words, when demand overpowers supply, the city of Toccoa turns on the pumps at Lake Yonah and pumps it into the city reservoirs, assuring the town’s water customers an uninterrupted supply.

Just one more reason Lake Yonah is special.


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