Lake Yonah – Ga/SC Border

@325 acres


Water Clarity – 7+

Natural Quality – 8 (fewer folks)

Perception – weekday

(Lake Yonah fishing report)



My first thought was Where in the world is Lake Yonah?  With a little research I found that Lake Yonah is part of Georgia Power’s Tallulah River ‘chain of lakes that run along the Northeastern Ga/SC border.  Yonah is downstream from the Tallulah Gorge and Lake Tugalo and is fed by both the Tallulah and Chatooga River.

Lake Burton is the first Lake of the Tallulah river-bed, then Lake Seed, and then Lake Rabun before joining up with the Chatooga river at Lake Tugaloo.  Lake Hartwell is where the water goes from Yonah – after passing through Hartwell’s dams it continues to the Atlantic Ocean as the Savannah River.


(GPS – 4 Dike Rd Clarkesville, GA)

A group of friends and paddlers from the neighborhood gathered to paddle ‘Yonah’ (which is Cherokee for ‘big black bear’) to help and solve this mystery for me.  As a group we have paddled together before on the Chatooga River (section II), today’s trip would be a simple flat-water paddle just a short distance away.

Lake Yonah has approximately 85 residences spread out along the 9 elongated miles of peaceful shoreline, the lake did not feel crowded at all.


Of course the first thing our armada attacked was the ‘peace’ of it all, but that’s just one of those sacrifices you unintentionally make with a group paddle.  Paddling becomes more of a ‘social’ opportunity than an insight to the lake’s character, but the perspective is always there if you know what to look for.  I went for the ‘opportunity,’ along with the welcomed change of enjoying some of the fun and fellowship that a casual group paddle provides.

Being a smaller lake (325 acres) I continued to break-away in search of the quiet coves and any sound of running water,


all the while admiring the individuality of each boathouse along the way, little wooden islands

Well it is a river-type of lake with limited coves and streams flowing into it – this small stream just before the Tugalo Dam offered cool shade and a babbling brook, a nice change to the upper-eighty temperature out on the lake.

Tugalo Dam

In no time at all we were at the Tugalo Dam where we all dismounted to enjoy a quick snack on one of the picknic tables of the campground.  Its a simple and clean little campground just below the Dam, 2 bucks a night – honor system, be nice kind of place, pay at the entrance – fish your heart out.

but a simple stop/snack/chat


and then again back down the small lake our ‘Cherokee armada’ went.

somewhere in here I took a plunge, the water felt great even though I was air-dried in short order.


The entire paddle didn’t take long at all, less than 4 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.

The end of the paddle and the boat ramp came way too soon.

There are two boat ramps, one below the Tugalo Dam and campground and one on the Southern end at the Yonah Dam (off Yonah Dam rd) near Toccoa.  For those paddling Yonah its a great place for beginners and those ‘getting their feet-wet,’ even though it could be more complicated with wakes from skiers and boaters of the summer – I suspect the volume of boaters is low in comparison to other more accessible lakes and weekdays are the best everywhere.  What stuck out for me was the fishing potential of the lake.  It’s one of those lakes that few know about or care to travel to, a little known opportunity below the busier lakes (Tugalo) of the area.

ez paddle.