By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Higher lake levels keep Lanier businesses afloat
Labor Day weekend caps a solid summer for tourism at Northeast Georgia reservoir
Nate Berns fills up his boat with fuel Saturday while his daughter, Paige, looks on at Gainesville Marina. - photo by Tom Reed

Preparing for Adventure

By: Jeff Gill

To view this video please enable JavaScript, and consider upgrading to a web browser that supports HTML5 video

As summer draws to a close, Lake Lanier businesses report it was one of the best in recent memory.

With a full lake and a major fishing tournament in town, there was a lot of interest in getting out on the water.

Clay Cunningham of Catching Not Fishing Guide Service said it was a relief to have a busy summer after years of drought and a bad economy.

"I've seen more customers in the last three months than I've seen in the last four to five years," Cunningham said. "I couldn't be happier."

Cunningham said the higher lake level is the main thing behind better business.

"People are renting houses on the lake or staying at Lake Lanier Islands and they want to fish," Cunningham said."I think it helped most of the businesses around the lake,"
Philip Burton, a general partner of Gainesville Marina, said summer has been good for his business.

"We've just seen customers up beat about getting back out on the water and using their boats," Burton said.

Burton thinks there was a lot of excitement about having a full lake for the first time in years after two years of drought dropped the water level to record lows.

"We probably had some pent-up demand," Burton said.

Cunningham said some people who had economic concerns likely decided to get out on the lake as well.

"They were worried about the economy and stuff, but you can't quit living," Cunningham said.

Thousands of people traveled to Lake Lanier in early August for the FLW Outdoors' Forrest Wood Cup, one of the nation's largest bass fishing tournaments.

The tournament brought customers to local businesses and national exposure for Lake Lanier.

The lake was able to make a good impression, hovering around the full pool level of 1,071 feet above sea level for the first summer in years.

In 2007, the lake was just 4 feet below full pool at Memorial Day, the traditional start of the summer season.

But by the following Memorial Day, Lake Lanier had dropped to 1,056 feet — 15 feet below full pool.

This Labor Day weekend, Burton is confident that the high lake levels will keep his business steady through the fall.

"We certainly don't like to think of it as the end of the season," Burton said. "September and October are phenomenal on the lake."