Smith Lake at Unicoi State Park, Georgia
The 44 acre Smith Lake, which is often called Unicoi Lake, is the centerpiece of Unicoi State Park. The lake not only provides opportunities for swimming and fishing, it also adds another beautiful element to the scenic forest landscape of the north Georgia mountains. This aesthetic aspect of the lake is readily apparent when you drive over the causeway on GA 356. It can be appreciated even more while walking the trail that goes around the lake or by spending time at a number of places in Unicoi State Park where you can access the lake's shoreline.
There is a sand beach where your children can swim in Smith Lake. There are no lifeguards but the relatively shallow swimming area is marked off with buoys. The parking lot is perched above the small cove where the beach is located. Just off this parking area is the beachhouse, picnic tables, and restrooms. You can rent a canoe or pedal boat from the beach house for $6 per hour (Memorial weekend until Labor Day). At the back edge of the beach is a group picnic facility. It can be reserved for a fee or, if it is not being used, is open on a first-come first-served basis.
This facility can be rented, at a cost of $250, for your private function. It can seat up to 75 people. The building overlooks Smith Lake and has stairs that lead down to the swimming beach. You can call the park for more information and to make a reservation.
There are numerous fishing docks around the edge of the lake. Anglers can catch catfish, bluegill, and bass. Georgia state fishing licenses are required. If you need some advice about getting started with fishing, check out how to fish in freshwater.
Smith Creek has two sections - above the lake and below that lake - that allow trout fishing. There are brook trout, rainbow trout, and brown trout in the creek.
The area above the lake is open during trout season (last Saturday in April through the end of October). It can be accessed from Anna Ruby Falls Road.
Below the lake fishing access is via the parking area that also serves as the trailhead for the mountain biking trail. To get to the road leading to the parking area - after passing the turn off for Unicoi Lodge take the first paved road to your right as you travel east on GA 356. To fish in this section of the creek you must obtain a permit at the front desk of the Lodge, purchase a park pass, and have a fishing license with a trout stamp. Fish can be harvested, according to state regulations, from May 15 to October 31. From November through May 14, there is only catch and release with the use of single hook artificial lures.