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 ||High water levels that persisted throughout last year produced a strong year class of small bass and anglers should expect to catch good numbers of small to medium-size bass 10-14 inches and some larger fish occasionally. |
|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. Persistent high water levels resulted in increased catfish abundances. Anglers will find plenty of channel catfish, with many of them weighing greater than 3 pounds. 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 abundance has been increasing in recent years and anglers should encounter decent catches, particularly below Jesup. 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. Populations had suffered from several years of drought conditions, but high water levels throughout most of last year caused a dramatic increase in the abundance of all bream species. Anglers should expect very good catches of 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 gauge 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: |