FISHING AND BOATING
The HCWA has a number of opportunities for public involvement and education, including light recreation and outdoor activities for all members of the family. Various HCWA facilities are designed and operated to accommodate such public access. One of the most popular activities at the HCWA is public fishing on select reservoirs. While HCWA reservoirs allow for limited public fishing throughout the year, the public must note that they otherwise operate very differently from recreational lakes and larger bodies of public waters, as they must adhere to much more stringent regulatory oversight because of their primary use as public drinking water reservoirs.
FISHING SEASON AT HCWA RESERVOIRS
Any resident or property owner of Henry County, Georgia may obtain a permit from Henry County Water to fish at select HCWA reservoirs, which typically rotate in terms of public access each year to protect fish habitat.
The Regular Season for public fishing at HCWA reservoirs customarily begins the first weekend in March and concludes the last weekend of November, when the Winter Fishing Season begins with more limited access to select reservoirs, usually the same ones that were open during the previous regular season. The Winter Fishing Season at the HCWA typically runs from December through the end of February of the following year.
The regular season includes public access to the Tussahaw and Upper Towaliga Reservoirs, which are ideal water bodies for various species of bream, bass, and catfish. These two reservoirs are open during the regular season on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. during daylight saving time. Otherwise, the reservoirs tend to open at dawn and close approximately an hour before dusk.
Click here for a map to Tussahaw Reservoir
Click here for a map to Upper Towaliga Reservoir.
The fishing public can now access the Tussahaw Reservoir via "Tussahaw Island" - a public use area with additional boat ramps, including one for citizens with disabilities, which opened in May of 2010. Tussahaw Island is accessible from Collins Way, off of Peeksville Road. Note: Access to Tussahaw Island or public fishing on the reservoir is NOT available at the Tussahaw Water Treatment Plant.
The Tussahaw Reservoir was opened to the public for fishing for the first time during 2009. The reservoir began filling in the fall of 2005, and was available for drinking water production at the Tussahaw Water Treatment Plant beginning in 2007. The reservoir needed ample time for the fish population to grow and for the habitat to mature before it could host public fishing.
RESERVOIR USE PERMITS
In order to fish HCWA reservoirs, anglers must have an active reservoir use permit, which is good for one calendar year from the date of purchase. Permits are available for $45 (with discounts for senior citizens and citizens with disabilities) at the HCWA Headquarters located at 1695 Highway 20 West in McDonough. Guests also must sign a release form and adhere to all rules and regulations (included below) governing the use of HCWA Reservoirs. Maps to the boat ramps for those reservoirs open for public fishing are available at the Authority Headquarters, upon receipt of a reservoir use permit.
RULES & REGULATIONS CONCERNING USE of RESERVOIRS
PERMIT: Any resident or property owner of Henry County may obtain an Authority Reservoir use permit by paying the established fee set out herein and executing the required release form. Said permit may be obtained from the office of the Henry County Water Authority at 1695 Hwy. 20 West, McDonough, Georgia, during normal business hours 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
TIME OF USE: Fishing will be permitted on the Tussahaw and Upper Towaliga Reservoirs during the fishing season (or as determined by the General Manager) from 7:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday only, plus Memorial Day, and Labor Day. The Authority may close its Reservoir(s) at any time without notice or refund of permit fees. Reservoir schedule changes will be posted on the Authority Website at www.hcwa.com.
GUESTS: Permit holders may take one guest, dependent children and/or children not requiring a fishing license.
PERMIT FEES: The cost of said permit shall be $45.00 and will be good for one year from the date of issue. Senior citizens (persons aged 62 and older), and handicapped persons may purchase permits at the reduced rate of $25.00. The fees collected shall be used to offset the expenses incurred by the Authority for the operation and maintenance of the Reservoirs.
REGULATIONS FOR USE OF HCWA RESERVOIRS
- Permit holders and guests must enter at public access.
- No person shall be authorized use of HCWA Reservoirs for any purpose other than those specified.
- Permit holders and guests must sign in with reservoir attendant and must sign out prior to leaving.
- A valid photo ID must be presented with permit.
- No fishing is allowed without a valid fishing license.
- No unauthorized fishing tournaments are allowed on HCWA Reservoirs.
- All boats must be approved by the Department of Natural Resources and must have life jackets.
- No more than two (2) poles may be in use per person.
- No trotlines or set hooks are allowed.
- No littering, fires or overnight camping shall be allowed.
- No material - except for boats, life jackets, and fishing equipment - will be allowed on said Reservoir unless it is biodegradable. Non-biodegradable materials must not be left on the premises.
- Permit holders and guests must maintain a safe distance from any dam, spillway, aerator (Do Not Cross Buoy Lines), pumping station or intake tower.
- No swimming or wading will be allowed at any time.
- Firearms are prohibited unless a person either possesses a valid weapons-carry license for a firearm that is valid in Georgia, or the person has the HCWA's express permission to carry a firearm on its property.
- No alcoholic beverages or drugs are allowed upon the premises.
- No pets are allowed upon the premises.
- Do not trespass on private property and do not enter restricted areas.
- Rule violation will result in permit revocation without refund.
- Reservoir(s) may be closed at any time without prior notice.
- Boats running gasoline engines are prohibited.
- Remember, our Reservoirs are our Drinking Water Supply.
VIOLATION and PUNISHMENT for NON-PERMITTED USE of RESERVOIRS
Any non-permitted user of the Authority's Reservoir(s) shall be considered a trespasser and shall be punished for such offense as authorized under the laws of the State of Georgia. Any permitted person violating any of the laws of the State of Georgia while on said Reservoir shall be punished as prescribed by the laws of this state.
Any person who fishes on the Authority's Reservoirs without first obtaining a permit from the Authority as prescribed above will be issued a citation to appear in the State Court of Henry County. The penalty for any person fishing on the Authority's Reservoir(s) without a permit shall be a minimum fine of $100.00 or 30 days in jail for the first offense; $300.00 or 60 days in jail for the second offense; $500.00 or 90 days in jail for the third offense; $1,000.00 or 120 days in jail for the fourth offense.
The Authority's Reservoir(s) are policed by the Authority's Enforcement Officer and lawful deputies and authorized agents of Henry County, as well as employees of the Department of Natural Resources of the State of Georgia.
The 2023 Fishing Season begins March 1, and runs through November 29.
The public now has an opportunity to fish the Tussahaw and Upper Towaliga Reservoirs on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (The Authority staff reserves the right to close the reservoirs for fishing on a scheduled day, in the event of maintenance, severe weather, or for other reasons.)
Memorial Day- May 29 (Monday)
Father's Day - June 18 (Sunday)
July 4 - (Tuesday)
Labor Day - September 4 (Monday)
Easter - April 9
Mother's Day – May 14
To access HCWA reservoirs, citizens must sign a waiver and obtain a Reservoir Use Permit, which is available at the HCWA headquarters during office hours for any HCWA customer, Henry County resident or property owner. These Permits are valid for one calendar year from the date of purchase, and they allow for a guest to accompany you for free.
The HCWA Reservoir Use Permits provide access to the Tussahaw and Upper Towaliga not only for fishing (for those with Georgia fishing licenses), but for canoeing, kayaking, and boating with non-gaspowered (trolling) motors.
PUBLIC USE AREAS
The public use areas of the Henry County Water Authority (HCWA) continue to be well received by customers, local residents and businesses. With the opening of Tussahaw Island in May of 2010, the HCWA has another public use area with great potential for outdoor education and recreation.
Tussahaw Island, located on Collins Way just off of Peeksville Road, has boat ramps for anglers seeking to fish the reservoir, one of which adjoins a fishing pier that is accessible to citizens with disabilities. Note: Tussahaw Island is NOT accessible via the Tussahaw Water Treatment Plant.
In addition, Tussahaw Island has plentiful parking and a walking trail around its perimeter, which was built with the help of aspiring local Eagle Scouts and other volunteers.