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Georgia Travel Articles - Banks Lake

Banks Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Refuge Facts

Established: 1985.
Size: 4,049 acres (1,000 acres open water+3,049 acres marsh, hardwood swamp, upland).
Located in Lanier County, GA.
Location: western half of Lanier Co. in southern Georgia, 2 miles west of Lakeland, GA along State Highway 122.

Natural History:

Banks Lake is a natural Pocosin or Mill Pond probably created by tidal action of the ocean and shaped by a more temperate climate thousands of years ago.

In the mid-1800’s, Joshua Lee built a low-level dam across the drainage creek on his property and utilized the impounded running water to power a grist mill to grind corn, wheat, and rice. The impounded lake and accompanying mill established the area as a trade center along the early stagecoach route between Waycross and Thomasville, GA.

In the 1920’s, the E.D. Rivers family attempted to develop the area around the lake for electric power and home development. In the 1970’s , the E.D. Rivers Estate threatened to drain the lake and harvest the “lightered stumps” and cypress trees.

The Nature Conservancy purchased the land from the E.D. Rivers Estate on March 14, 1980.
In April, 1980, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service entered into a lease agreement with The Nature Conservancy for management and operation of Banks Lake.
On February 22, 1985, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service purchased Banks Lake from The Nature Conservancy.


Trails (hiking and boating).
Fishing (freshwater).
Wildlife observation.
Canoeing and Kayaking

Banks Lake Outpost Concession:

Banks Lake Outpost offers canoe/kayak rentals, a selection of snacks, bait and fishing tackle, and a gift shop. Opening times vary throughout the season. Contact Banks Lake Outpost for more information at 229-482-3453.

Questions and Answers:

What kind of fish can I catch?

Sportfish most caught include largemouth bass, chain pickerel, crappie, bluegill, warmouth perch, flier, and catfish.

Is there a launch ramp and what is the fee?

There is a triple wide concrete launch ramp. No launch fee is currently charged.

Is there a horsepower limitation on the refuge?

There is no horsepower limitation on the refuge. However, due to the extensive amount of stumps and logs both floating and anchored to the bottom of the lake, idle speed or exclusive use of an electric trolling motor is suggested.

Telephone: (912) 496-7366

information provided by US Fish and Wildlife Service

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