The Altamaha River flows from the confluence of the Ocmulgee and Oconee rivers, forming the largest free flowing river in Georgia. Once a major thoroughfare for steamboat traffic, the Altamaha now hosts a variety of sporting activities, ranging from bank and boat fishing, to canoeing and leisure boating, to tournament angling. The diversity of recreational opportunities along with the natural beauty of this wide, meandering river make it a primary resource for freshwater recreational activity in southeast Georgia.
Guide to Fishing and Floating the Altamaha River
in PDF (557 KB). This document contains access and fishing tip information and a color map with river-mile designations.
Prospects and Fishing Tips
|Best Bets |
|LARGEMOUTH BASS, FLATHEAD CATFISH, CRAPPIE & BREAM |
|Largemouth bass |
|Prospect ||Due to the prolonged drought conditions that existed last spring through fall, anglers should not expect as many bass as in the past couple years. Most of the fish caught will be in the 12-16 size class, with the occasional larger fish. |
|Technique ||Crankbaits, spinnerbaits, plastic worms and lizards. |
|Target ||Bass fishing usually begins to pick up as water temperatures approach 60 degrees (F). In the spring, target oxbow lakes and slack water areas containing overhanging willows and woody structure. During summer, fish in the mainstream concentrating on eddy pockets, the downstream end of sandbars and heavy cover along the banks. Lures should be presented as close as possible to cover for best results. |
|Prospect ||The Altamaha offers an excellent opportunity for those seeking catfish. The Altamaha is still one of the premier flathead catfish rivers in the southeast. Anglers targeting flatheads should see good numbers of fish in the 4-10 lb size range and an occasional trophy-sized fish exceeding 30 lb. Blue catfish numbers and average size have been increasing in recent years and anglers should encounter decent catches, particularly below Jesup. Blue catfish greater than 5 lb should be commonly caught by anglers and an occasional fish above 20 lb maybe hooked. Anglers should also find decent numbers of channel catfish with many of them weighing greater than 3 pounds. Fishing peaks in the hot summer months. |
|Technique ||When using sporting tackles, a minimum 30-pound test line is recommended. Live bait is key - large worms (Louisiana pinks), shiners and bream are popular. Another method: set lines or limb lines, or trot lines overnight with handsized bream as bait. |
|Target ||Deep holes located along the outside bends. An electronic fish finder is useful for locating deep holes and fish. |
|Prospect ||Historically known for an outstanding bream fishery, with redbreast, redear sunfish and bluegill present, drought conditions that persisted throughout most of last year may result in smaller catches of keeper sized redbreast sunfish and bluegill this year. |
|Technique ||Live bait and artificial lures work for redbreast. Popular live bait tactics: fishing crickets and worms under bobbers or fishing them on the bottom with split-shot weights. Effective artificial lures: small beetle spins, rooster tails and popping bugs (fly rod). Use same tactics for bluegill and redear but concentrate in slow moving water. |
|Target ||For redbreast, target deep holes with cover along the main river channel. For bluegill and redear, concentrate in still-water (oxbow) lakes off the main channel. |
|Prospect ||With a relatively stable population over the past few years, expect similar results as last year. |
|Technique ||Live minnows are effective. |
|Target ||Oxbow lakes that lie between U.S. Hwy. 84 and the Seaboard Railroad. |
|Additional Information |
|For river level information check the USGS Doctortown, GA river gage at: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?02226000 |
Optimal fishing conditions will exist when this gauge registers a height of 3-7 feet.
|Best Fishing Times Key |
|Excellent: Good: Fair: |