Lake Oconee, Georgia, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - South - Georgia - Classic South - Historic Heartland -

Lake Oconee takes its name from a group of Creek Indians that long ago lived close to Georgia’s Oconee River basin. “Oconee” is purported to mean “great waters.” It is an apt name to describe the vast water body with a surface area of about 18,971 acres. Lake Oconee is Georgia’s second largest lake (the largest is Lake Lanier) and is fed by the Oconee River, the Appalachee River, and numerous other significant creeks merging into the lake at various points throughout its span.

The lake, just 70 miles east of Atlanta, spreads fissure-like through historically-rich Morgan, Greene, Hancock and Putnam counties, twisting and turning and extending into little inlets making it a treasure of discovery for the adventurous explorer. River and creek waterways, bushy woodland areas on the banks, and standing timber in the water help to structure the man-made reservoir and provide endless options for water fun.

Lake Oconee’s shoreline runs for about 374 miles around the reservoir. The lake sprawls a 20-mile stretch from the north where it is met by the Oconee River, all the way south to the Wallace Dam which impounds the lake. The dam separates Lake Oconee from its “sister” Lake Sinclair, lying quietly to the south. On average the lake is 21 feet deep reaching greater depths closer to the dam. It stretches no more than a mile across at its widest point.

Wallace Dam was completed by the Georgia Power Company in 1980 after 9 years of construction. It is the youngest and largest of the company’s hydroelectric projects. Wallace Dam is also Georgia Power’s first pumped storage project. Water is released from the dam to generate power during peak demand; water below the dam is then pumped back into the reservoir during off-peak periods. As such, lake levels fluctuate on average about two feet a day.

Nature lovers will find pure happiness in Lake Oconee and its environs. The lake has various destination spots that provide convenient access to the lake’s natural environment, creating great opportunities for hiking, biking, bird-watching and even equestrian activities. Georgia Power has created three large 85-acre campgrounds (Lawrence Shoals, Old Salem, Parks Ferry) that are fully equipped with picnic areas, playgrounds, tent sites, beaches, boat ramps, restrooms and parking. Patrons enjoy swimming, water skiing, boating and fishing.

The lake’s “great waters” is a paradise for fishing enthusiasts – particularly largemouth bass lovers. The largemouth is Georgia’s state freshwater fish and has earned a reputation among anglers. The lake has multitudes of brush pile and timber plots serving to provide areas to shelter teams of fish. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is responsible for protecting the largemouth population and restricts fishing brood largemouth between 10 and 14 inches. Other fish include white bass, bluegill sunfish, redear sunfish, black crappie, white catfish, and channel catfish. Current statistics for Lake Oconee are estimated at about 355 lbs of fish per acre, more than the average ratio for a lake of its kind in the southeast.

For the less-rugged type, have no fear, Lake Oconee’s shoreline has seen massive development in the last decade. Stay in a cabin or villa on one of the lake’s lavish resorts. Hotels on the lake offer endless choices for leisure. Oconee’s golf attractions have acquired due prestige over the years and are of the nation’s best.

It’s hard not to fall in love with Lake Oconee. For the permanently smitten, new housing developments are available. The lake boasts some of the most up-scale lakefront properties in the southeast. Talk to one of the many real estate agents in the area.

Whatever your intention, you will enjoy your time at Lake Oconee.

Things to do at Lake Oconee

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Water Skiing
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Birding
  • Playground

Fish species found at Lake Oconee

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Black Crappie
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Redear Sunfish (Shellcracker)
  • Sunfish
  • White Bass
  • White Catfish

Lake Oconee Photo Gallery

Lake Oconee Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Georgia Power Company

Surface Area: 18,971 acres

Shoreline Length: 374 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 435 feet

Average Depth: 21 feet

Maximum Depth: 100 feet

Water Volume: 470,000 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1980

Drainage Area: 1,830 sq. miles

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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