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Fishing season set to begin in Henry, Clayton

By Valerie Baldowski

vbaldowski@henryherald.com

When the 2009 regular public fishing season begins on Wednesday, local anglers will be able to fish in two Henry County reservoirs.

This year, fishing enthusiasts will have access to the newly-opened Tussahaw Reservoir for the first time since the lake began filling nearly four years ago. Henry County Water and Sewerage Authority Customer Service Manager Ray Novotny expects the reservoir to be a big draw.

"At this point, we have 1,437 active permit holders," Novotny said. "We're selling about 40 [permits] a day. We've had a line out the door."

Fishing permits are good for one year, so anglers who bought their permits in June 2008 can use them through this June, Novotny said. He anticipates the Henry water authority will sell nearly 2,000 permits this season.

The Tussahaw Reservoir reached full pool for the first time in May 2008, and has had time for its fish population to mature. The reservoir is 1,466 acres, with about 9.78 billion gallons of raw water. The water is used in drinking water production at the Tussahaw treatment plant.

The opening of the Tussahaw brings the total number of Henry County reservoirs to four, but Novotny said this season, the only authority reservoirs open for public fishing are the Tussahaw and the 166-acre Gardner Reservoir. The hours for both reservoirs are 7 a.m., to 7 p.m., on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

They will also be open on Memorial Day and Labor Day.

The new reservoir is almost as big as the authority's other three reservoirs combined. In addition to the Gardner Reservoir, the Henry water authority also oversees the 225-acre Longbranch Reservoir, and the 1,100-acre Ed Cole Reservoir.

To fish Henry County reservoirs, anglers must have a permit, available for $40 at the water authority headquarters, located at 1695 Ga. Highway 20 West in McDonough, during normal business hours. Guests must sign a release form and adhere to all rules and regulations governing the use of public reservoirs.

Clayton County anglers also have a place to fish.

Beginning March 1, fishing passes go on sale for Clayton County residents. Day passes will be sold for $10 at the Shamrock/Blalock Reservoir entrance office, located at 2688 Shamrock Road in Jonesboro.

The Shoal Creek Reservoir, located at 301 Hampton Road in Hampton, will be open to county residents for boat fishing from 7 a.m., to 3 p.m., on the following Saturdays: April 18 and 25, May 16 and 23, and June 6 and 13.

Clayton residents may purchase a day pass for Shoal Creek Wednesdays through Sundays from 1 p.m., to 6 p.m. Residents will need to buy a pass in advance, then select the Saturday they want to fish.

The Clayton County Water Authority offers several other family-oriented fishing opportunities.

The Shamrock/Blalock Reservoir Area and J.W. Smith Reservoir Area will re-open March 1 for public fishing, canoeing and picnicking. The Shamrock/Blalock Reservoir will be open Wednesdays through Sundays. The J.W. Smith Reservoir, located at 143 North Bridge Road in Hampton, will be open Saturdays through Wednesdays.

Access to both reservoirs is $5 per vehicle, or a season pass may be purchased for $25.

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On the net:

Henry County Water and Sewerage Authority: www.hcwsa.com

Clayton County Water Authority: www.ccwa1.com