Description: This 850 acre drinking water reservoir was constructed by Newton County in 1990-91 and first opened to public fishing in 1992. The lake is located approximately two miles northeast of Covington on Alcovy Road (1-20 Exit 92). Lake Varner and its recreational facilities are managed by the Newton County Parks and Recreation Department. Typically, the park is open daily from sunrise to sunset. A double lane boat ramp, fishing pier, and bank access are available to the public in the park area. Gasoline motors are not allowed on the lake, even if not in use. Visitors, other than Newton and Walton County residents, are charged a $5 fee per vehicle for parking and an additional $5 per boat. The fish population provides good fishing for largemouth bass, bream, crappie, and channel catfish. WRD, in cooperation with Newton County, manages the fishery.
Largemouth bass abundance and quality have remained in a good range for the last several years. More than one-half of largemouth bass exceed 12 inches and about 30% are at least 15 inches or longer. Largemouth exceeding 5 lbs will be less common in the catch than in 1999.
This lake has an excellent reputation for producing good pan fish. Crappie, redear sunfish (shellcracker), and bluegill populations are in good condition. Quality-size crappie will make up 30% of the catch. A strong year-class of smaller fish is present, which should begin to contribute significantly to fishing during late fall. Crappie fishing should peak sometime in April, depending on water temperatures. Bluegill and shellcracker should provide the best opportunities in May during the first spawn. Bluegill should spawn at least two more times during the summer months.
White bass were stocked several years ago, but have not spawned successfully since their introduction and continue to decline in abundance. However, hybrid bass, first stocked in 1998 and in 2000, are filling the void left by white bass. The 1998 fish are now 3-4 lbs.
Unfortunately, gizzard shad (an undesirable species) was found in the lake for the first time in 2000. It appears this unauthorized introduction is well on its way to establishing a population. We are not sure if the stocking was intentional or an innocent release of bait. The consequences, however, are the same. Generally, gizzard shad take away much more from the sport fishery than they contribute. We will keep you informed, but you should expect a downside associated with this fish's introduction.