River Prospects

Altamaha River 

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.
Catfish
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 hand-sized bream as bait.
Target Deep holes located along the outside bends. An electronic fish finder is useful for locating deep holes and fish.
Bream
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.
Crappie
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
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Chattahoochee River (Buford Dam to Roswell Road)

In addition to supplying nearly 70 percent of metro Atlanta's drinking water, the 48-mile stretch of the Chattahoochee River between Buford Dam and Peachtree Creek offers some of the best trout fishing in north Georgia.  

For the current water release schedules call:  1-855-DAM-FLOW.

Prospects and Fishing Tips

Best Bets
BROWN & RAINBOW TROUT
Rainbow Trout
Prospect The Lanier Tailwater section of the Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam provides a constant input of clear, cool water that creates trout habitat. Releases from Buford Dam for power generation can make fishing difficult and dangerous, but fishing after the water recedes generally picks right back up where it left off. Rainbow trout have been stocked in this section since 1962 and are managed as a put-and-take fishery. Most of the rainbow trout encountered will be in the 9 to 12-inch range, but larger fish are stocked by Georgia DNR and some individuals may survive in the river for multiple years and can grow quite large. Approximately 180,000 catchable-sized rainbow trout are stocked annually in this section, though in some years the number can grow higher if summer conditions in the North Georgia mountains create a need to reallocate trout from other streams.  
Technique For fly-fishing, use 4 to 6-weight, 8 1/2 to 9 1/2 foot rods with floating or sinking tip lines. Small nymphs and flies work well. Traditional patterns such as wooly buggers (size 8-12), prince nymphs (size 14; try bead-heads), or hare's ears (size 16) often produce fish. If fish appear active but are not responding to these patterns, try very small (size 18-22) black midge flies, both adult and pupa. In recently-stocked sections, patterns that are highly visible and/or mimic the pellets that are fed to hatchery trout (e.g. a Y2K pattern) can be highly productive. For spin-fishing, use a 5 to 7-foot rod with 4 to 6-pound test. Try 1/8 ounce spinners (e.g. Rooster Tail or Panther Martin) in silver, white, brown, green, yellow or orange or gold/silver spoons (e.g. Little Cleo). Also try 3 to 5-inch Rapalas in perch, trout, gold or silver patterns. For bait fishing, a similarly-outfitted rod will work well with natural baits such as corn, nightcrawlers, or Powerbait. Add split shot or other weight to the line to allow the bait to reach the current. A bobber or float may be used to suspend the bait within the water column. Please be aware that natural baits are not permitted between Georgia Highway 20 and Medlock Bridge.
Target Freshly-stocked rainbow trout will often initially remain congregated near the stocking location. Within a few days, they will disperse relatively evenly throughout the stocked location. Look for well-oxygenated runs with moderate current. Depth of rainbow trout may vary considerably. Look for structure such as eddies formed by rocks or downed timber. Maps noting access points along the river can be obtained either in person or online from the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area.
Brown Trout
Prospect The Lanier Tailwater section of the Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam provides a constant input of clear, cool water that creates trout habitat. Releases from Buford Dam for power generation can make fishing difficult and dangerous, but fishing after the water recedes generally picks right back up where it left off. Brown trout have not been stocked in this section since 2004 and are now managed as a wild population. While most of the brown trout encountered will probably be in the 8 to 12-inch range, fish well over 20 inches are caught by anglers each year including several fish over 30 inches in 2016. The previous state record brown trout (18 pounds, 6 ounces) was caught in this section in 2001. A new state record (20 pounds, 14 ounces) was caught in this section in 2014.  
Technique For fly-fishing, use 4 to 6-weight, 8 1/2 to 9 1/2 foot rods with floating or sinking tip lines. Small nymphs and flies work well. Traditional patterns such as wooly buggers (size 8-12), prince nymphs (size 14; try bead-heads), or hare's ears (size 16) often produce fish. If fish appear active but are not responding to these patterns, try very small (size 18-22) black midge flies, both adult and pupa. For spin-fishing, use a 5 to 7-foot rod with 4 to 6-pound test. Try 1/8 ounce spinners (e.g. Rooster Tail or Panther Martin) in silver, white, brown, green, yellow or orange and spoons in gold/silver (e.g. Little Cleo). Also try 3 to 5-inch Rapalas in perch, trout, gold or silver patterns. 

To target trophy-size fish use larger streamers or lures that mimic baitfish such as sculpins or even smaller trout. During colder months, consider dead-drifting white streamers or using white inline spinners to mimic dead threadfin shad and/or blueback herring that have died in Lake Lanier due to cold temperatures and passed through Buford Dam.
Target Large numbers of fish should be present in wadeable shoal areas. Fish during clear, low flows. If water is turbid, a gold spinner or spoon may produce the best results. The largest brown trout are often found in deep runs surrounded by cover such as downed timber. Maps noting access points along the river can be obtained either in person or online from the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area.
Additional Information
The section between Buford Dam and Peachtree Creek lies within the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (CRNRA) and is managed by the National Park Service (NPS). The Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) and NPS work closely to manage the land, river and wildlife. For more information about the area, call 678-538-1200 or visit http://www.nps.gov/chat. 

For water release information from Buford Dam, call the US Army Corps of Engineers at 1(855) DAM-FLOW (326-3569) or visit http://water.sam.usace.army.mil/todaySched.htm. 

For up to date fishing reports on the Chattahoochee River and around the state of Georgia be sure to visit georgiawildlife.wordpress.com 
 
Best Fishing Times Key
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Chattahoochee River (Morgan Falls to Peachtree Creek)

In addition to supplying nearly 70 percent of metro Atlanta's drinking water, the 48-mile stretch of the Chattahoochee River between Buford Dam and Peachtree Creek offers some of the best trout fishing in north Georgia.

Prospects and Fishing Tips

Best Bets
TROUT, SHOAL BASS, LARGEMOUTH BASS, STRIPED BASS, CHAIN PICKEREL, BREAM & CATFISH
Shoal Bass
Prospect From 2003-2007, more than 200,000 shoal bass fingerlings were stocked in the Morgan Falls Tailwater section of the Chattahoochee River. Due to these restoration efforts, there is now a significant shoal bass population supporting an exciting fishery. Reproduction of shoal bass in this section appears to be inconsistent due to variable and cold river conditions and adult numbers are slightly down from recent years. Georgia DNR re-initiated fingerling stocking in 2011 to maintain a healthy fishery and catchable fish in the 10 to 12-inch range should remain available to anglers.  
Technique Use a medium rod and spinning reel with 8-pound line (clear or green). Cast a 1/2 ounce yellow spinner bait with silver or white willow leaf blades to creek mouths and shoal areas. Low, clear water is best. For flyfishing, try streamers representing baitfish or crayfish patterns. Large nymphs such as stoneflies may also be effective.
Target Shoal bass move to shallow water in April and can be found in swift running shoals. In winter, they move to deeper water along the banks and deep pools. Focus on downed trees along the banks.
Black Bass
Prospect Largemouth and spotted bass are most active from April through October but can be caught in winter.  
Technique Many of the techniques used for shoal bass work well with largemouth and spotted bass. Also, try techniques and tackle that work in ponds and lakes, such as crankbaits in deeper pools. Worms and spinner baits also are effective.
Target Most anglers focus their time from spring through fall. Fish are everywhere and will hit any well-presented lure. The trout fishing is too good to pass up during late fall through early spring.
Striped Bass
Prospect Though striped bass are native to this section of the Chattahoochee River, a series of downstream dams prevent the historic migration of stripers up from the Gulf of Mexico. Instead, striped bass stocked at West Point Reservoir often make the migration upstream all the way to Morgan Falls Dam in search of cool water. These fish remain present in the Morgan Falls Tailwater throughout the year, but in much higher densities during the warmer months. Stripers can be found in a range of sizes and may reach over 30 pounds.  
Technique Use a medium rod and spinning reel with 8 to 10-pound line (clear or green). Large redfins, #5 Rapalas and swim baits work well in shallow to deep, clear water. Large swimbaits that imitate shad are a good bet when targeting larger striped bass. Baits imitating a crayfish may prove effective in shoal areas.
Target These fish do not seem to prefer any single habitat, but move around looking for food. Striped bass can be found in shallow shoals, runs and deep pools. In summer, the upstream end of Cochran Shoals and the vicinity of Morgan Falls Dam tend to hold high numbers of stripers.
Pickerel
Prospect In the winter, fish for chain pickerel on sunny days with low, clear water at 45-55 degrees (F). Most pickerel found will be less than 12 inches, but the occasional larger fish can give anglers a surprise.
Technique Use medium rod and reel with 8-pound line in clear water. Cast to blow downs and eddies. Yellow rooster tails (3/4 ounce) and 1/2 ounce yellow spinner baits (silver or white willow) also are effective.
Target In winter, target the river upstream of the delayed harvest section between Morgan Falls Dam and Sope Creek. Look to blown down trees in the sun with a deep hole on the downstream side.
Trout
Prospect Trout fishing in this section can be excellent during the Delayed Harvest (DH) season (November 1 through May 14) when catches of 20-30 trout are reported. Approximately 50,000 trout are stocked from November 1 through late April. All trout must be released during the delayed harvest season, but can be harvested from May 15 through October 31.  
Technique During the Delayed Harvest season, only single-hook artificial lures and flies are permitted between Sope Creek and Cobb Parkway (US 41). 

For fly-fishing, consider a Parachute Adams in a No. 18-22. Picky fish? Try a black or olive wooly bugger. Also consider Bead Head Prince, Hares Ear and Pheasant Tail flies in No. 14-18. During an insect hatch, a small Blue Wing Olive or Griffiths Gnat in a No. 18-22 may be a better choice. When fish are recently-stocked, high visibilities such as a Y2K or purple warrior may be a better choice. For ultra light spinning tackle use 2-pound "Extra Tough Line" or 4-pound "Extra Limp" line (clear or green). Cast or troll 1/16 ounce. Yellow rooster tail, or #3 or #5 yellow rapalas. Fishing in low, clear water is best. 

Outside of the DH season, traditional baits such as nightcrawlers or corn niblets should work well paired with spinning or spincasting tackle.
Target Target the delayed harvest section from Sope Creek (off Columns Drive) downstream to U.S. Highway 41. Popular access points include Cochran Shoals, Whitewater Creek, and Paces Mill.
Other Species
Prospect Anglers seeking sunfish and catfish will find plenty of action in this section of the river. There are some yellow perch present as well but few are of desirable size.
Technique Sunfish and catfish are most active in the warmer months.
Target Sunfish can be caught on small spinners and jigs, or cast worms into deep holes on a drop-shot rig. Catfish can be caught using cut or commercial catfish baits. Fish the bottom in deeper holes and runs for catfish.
Additional Information
The section between Buford Dam and Peachtree Creek lies within the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (CRNRA) and is managed by the National Park Service (NPS). The Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) and NPS work closely to manage the land, river and wildlife. For more information about the area, call 678-538-1200 or visit http://www.nps.gov/chat 

Water levels may rise and fall with power generation at Morgan Falls Dam. Please be aware of your surroundings and watch water levels for any sign of rise while wading in the river. 

The area from Sope Creek downstream to Highway 41 is designated as Delayed Harvest. Anglers fishing delayed harvest streams must release all trout immediately and use and possess only artificial lures with one single hook per lure from November 1 - May 14 annually. The use of additional "dropper" lures on one line is permitted as long as each lure contains one single hook. These restrictions do not apply from May 15 - October 31 of each year.: 

Please note that the section between Morgan Falls Dam and Peachtree Creek is designated as trout waters. Therefore, anglers may not fish with live bait fish regardless of whether they are fishing for trout or other species. 

For up to date fishing reports on the Chattahoochee River and around the state of Georgia be sure to visit georgiawildlife.wordpress.com 
 
Best Fishing Times Key
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Chattooga River

The Chattooga is a tributary of Weiss Reservoir.  It originates near Lafayette and meanders about 51 miles southwest.  A narrow river channel with numerous hazards makes most of the river floatable only by canoe or small boat.  Large prop and jet boats can navigate the river below Ga. Hwy. 27 with caution.

Prospects and Fishing Tips

Best Bets
BREAM, BLACK BASS, STRIPED BASS & CATFISH
Black Bass
Prospect The black bass fishery is "fair" in comparison to this river's bream fishery. Expect most bass caught to be less than 1 pound, but anglers do have a chance to catch three different black bass species to include: redeye, largemouth and spotted bass. Redeye are more common in the upper reaches, while spots dominate the lower portion. Largemouth are least common, but can be found throughout the river.  
Technique Light colored spinnerbaits, buzzbaits and topwater plugs are all good choices. Crawfish jig imitations bumped along the bottom near structure also works well under most conditions. Stealthy anglers will fair best in these "skinny" waters.
Target Fish deeper pools, especially those with woody debris. The largest individual will be found where the river enters Lake Weiss.
White bass
Prospect White bass are available on a seasonal basis. They migrate into the lower Chattooga in early spring, and the spawning run peaks in March and April. Outside of these months, few white bass will be found in the river.  
Technique Small jigs and shad-patterned crankbaits (Rat-L-Traps) are favored lures for these "mini-linesides."
Target Find spawn-run fish around creek mouths in the lower sections of the river below Lyerly Dam, off Lyerly Dam Road.
Striped Bass
Prospect These striped behemoths migrate into the river during the spring months, and good numbers remain through summertime in search of cool water refuge. Expect linesides anywhere from 1-25 pounds with the average fish weighing around 8-10 pounds. Persistent drought in 2016 may limit the number of 20-plus pound fish available this year. However, good year classes of mid-sized 8-10 pound striped bass will be filling the ranks. Therefore, anglers may land a few more quality stripers than usual in 2017.  
Technique Best bets are live gizzard shad or cut bait, but aggressive stripers will hit shad imitations and top water plugs (Zara Spooks or Redfins) under the right conditions. To keep fish from breaking off on the numerous downed trees in the river, 20 to 30-pound line and heavier baitcasting rods are recommended.
Target Target spring-fed pools, especially around fallen trees and logjams and in the mouths of cool water tributaries or springs. Look for flowing water near cover, as these are prime striper haunts. Linesides may also be found around the remains of the old Lyerly Dam in the town of Lyerly.
Catfish
Prospect The catfish population is relatively modest. Channel cats greatly outnumber both flatheads and blue catfish. Most channel cats will be in the 1-pound size class. Blues and flatheads will average slightly larger in size.  
Technique Cut fish baits, chicken livers, catalpa worms and prepared stink baits fished on the bottom are recommended.
Target Target channel cats in moderately deep flowing habitat, especially those found along outside river bends or near fallen trees or log jams. Also, don't overlook the downstream side of shoals, as catfish often feed in these areas from dusk into the night. The river sections around the towns of Lyerly and Chattoogaville are good areas to target this river's "whiskered" inhabitants.
Bream
Prospect Bream dominate the river's sport fishery and offer anglers a good opportunity to catch "dinner numbers" of fish. Redbreast sunfish are more abundant in the upper reaches, while bluegill dominate the downstream river reaches. Bream 5-8 inches long are common, with some individuals even topping the 10-inch mark.  
Technique For artificial baits, small is the key. Try small spinners and natural crawfish imitating jigs. For live bait, crickets or worms rigged under a bobber or bottom presentations weighted with split-shot are both effective techniques.
Target For catches of larger bream, target the river section immediately above the city of Trion. Concentrate in deep pools, behind logjams and along undercut banks. In summer, bream will bed in slack areas along the shore, behind debris and on the downstream side of sandbars.
Other Species
Prospect Freshwater drum are a unique but common, edible river resident. Expect the average drum to run slightly better than 12 inches, but a fair number of "bull drum" will top 17 inches or better.
Technique For drum, small white jigs fished along the bottom, crayfish, cut mussels and shrimp are the best techniques for catching them.
Target For larger drum, concentrate in the swift "runs" of the river, which are generally 2-3 feet in depth at normal flows. Target runs along undercut banks and near fallen trees where actively feeding drum are often found. Areas immediately below shoals are also good stops for anglers looking to hook into a hard-fighting drum.
Additional Information
Current USGS river gauge data for the Chattooga River just above Gaylesville, Alabama is available at: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?site_no=02398300 

There are two dams on the Chattooga River. The first is the Mt. Vernon Mill's Dam in Trion, which is impassible to boaters. The second is a small low-head dam further downstream in the town of Lyerly. This dam is breached in several places and can be floated through by canoe or portaged around under normal water conditions. 
 
Best Fishing Times Key
Excellent:   image     Good:   image   Fair:   image

 


Conasauga River

From its confluence with the Coosawattee River, upstream to its origin deep within the Cohutta Wilderness area of Fannin County, the Conasauga extends about 95 miles through rural north Georgia and southern Tennessee.

  Guide to Fishing the Conasauga River  in PDF (645 kB). This document contains access and fishing tip information and a color map with river-mile designations.  

Prospects and Fishing Tips

Best Bet
TROUT, BLACK BASS, BREAM & CATFISH
Black Bass
Prospect Black bass fishing is considered fair, with spotted, largemouth and redeye bass all available to anglers fishing this river. WRD sample data indicate spots comprise the majority of the black bass population. In general, most bass are under a pound in size, so fish weighing greater than 2-3 pounds are considered good catches in this river.  
Technique Drift fishing live minnows, worms, or even hellgrammites are certainly good techniques to employ on the river. However, jigs, shallow running hard baits (like Rapalas) and buzz or spinner baits will allow you to cover more water in search of actively feeding bass. Fly-fishing with minnow imitations or dry terrestrial insect patterns also have their place in an angler's arsenal.
Target Black bass will strike nearly anywhere on the river below the Tennessee state line. Target downed trees, undercut banks and rock outcrops in close proximity to the main channel current.
Catfish
Prospect Blue and channel cats account for the bulk of the catfish population, but fair numbers of moderately sized flatheads are present. Blue cats average 20 inches and 2 1/2 pounds, while channel cats typically measure around 14 inches and 1 pound in size. Flathead catfish average around 20 inches, with occasional catches topping 30-inches and weighing 20+ pounds.  
Technique Channel cats can be coaxed to bite using fresh cut baits, chicken livers, and catalpa worms. For flatheads and blue cats, use live fish to draw strikes from these larger, predatory species. Medium to medium-heavy fishing rods and reels with 10-12 pound test are more than adequate for the average catfish found in the river. Reels spooled with 20-25 pound line are likely more suited for anglers searching for trophy river cats.
Target For blues and flatheads, focus efforts in the lower section of the river below Highway 76 in the Looper's bend area of the river. For channel cats, target the lengthy area from the Tennessee state line downstream to the city of Calhoun. In-stream cover, such as fallen trees and logs near deepwater are likely catfish haunts.
Bream
Prospect Redear sunfish (shellcrackers), bluegill and redbreast sunfish are available to anglers. Though lesser-known species like spotted, longear, and green sunfish are also relatively abundant in the river. Expect most bream to be in the 5-6 inch range, with some bigger, less abundant individuals topping out in the 8-9 inch range.  
Technique Artificial flies, small jigs and live bait such as crickets or worms, fished in river pools near fallen trees, should produce a variety of bream species for river anglers.
Target You can find bluegill and redear sunfish throughout much of the river below the Tennessee state line. Redbreast and longear sunfish tend to be concentrated more so in the narrow waters upstream of Highway 76 between the towns of Dalton and Chatsworth, Georgia.
Trout
Prospect The upper river reaches are home to rainbow, brown, and brook trout. Rainbows and browns generally range from 6-14 inches, with the occasional brown trout topping 20 inches. Brook trout up to 8 inches can be found in the skinny headwaters and smaller tributaries at elevations typically above 2,500 feet. Trout fishing is expected to be below average this year, given the severe drought conditions experienced regionally last year.  
Technique Match the hatch for fly anglers. Spin casters can do well casting worms or small silver, white, or black in-line spinners such as Roostertails. Check state fishing regulations for artificial lure restrictions in portions of this river and its tributaries. Trout are not currently stocked, so an element of stealth is required for consistent catches of these wild fish.
Target The best trout fishing opportunity on the Conasauga and its tributaries, is generally found upstream of the rivers confluence with Little Rough Creek in the rugged Cohutta Wilderness Area.
Other Species
Prospect Freshwater drum, smallmouth buffalo, carp and a variety of suckers are common in the river. Drum are likely the largest and most abundant of this group and average 12-inches in length. Some thicker-bodied drum topping the 20-inch, 5-plus pound mark are also available. Most smallmouth buffalo will be in the 2-3 pound range, but 10+ pound fish are not uncommon. Common carp will be slightly larger than the buffalo encountered. Most sucker species will be in the 1-2 pound range.
Technique Try small jigs, live crawfish, cut mussels or shrimp fished on the bottom to entice drum. Prepared baits, corn, or worms are all classic carp baits. Buffalo and the various sucker species can be enticed with worms and small cut bait offerings.
Target For drum, concentrate on the "runs" of the river, which are generally 2-3 feet in depth at normal river flows, with relatively swift water flow. Fish runs along undercut banks and near fallen trees where actively feeding drum are often found. Pools and other slow moving river sections around the cities of Dalton and Calhoun are your best bet for carp. Smallmouth buffalo are found throughout the river. Those targeting sucker species should consider fishing the river section above Highway 76.
Additional Information
Current USGS river gauge data for the Conasauga River at Tilton Bridge is available at: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?site_no=02387000

Lake sturgeon, once resident to the Coosa River system, were eliminated from the river in the 1960s. With improving water conditions in recent decades, stocking efforts by the DNR were started, as a means of re-establishing this large native fish species. Since 2002, nearly 200,000 fingerlings have been released into the greater Coosa River Basin, which includes the Conasauga River. If accidentally caught, release sturgeon immediately. For deep-hooked fish, cut the line close to the hook to increase survival chances after release. To aid in this long-term restoration process, please contact the Wildlife Resources Division, Calhoun Fisheries office at (706) 295-6102 if you catch or see a sturgeon. 
 
Best Fishing Times Key
Excellent:   image     Good:   image   Fair:   image

 


Coosa River

The Coosa River begins in the City of Rome and flows 30.4 miles west-southwest, entering Lake Weiss at the Alabama state line. The Coosa is home to a robust, naturally reproducing land-locked striped bass population one of only a handful of such populations found in the nation. 

  Guide to Fishing the Coosa River in PDF (645 kB). This document contains access and fishing tip information and a color map with river-mile designations.

Prospects and Fishing Tips

Best Bets
WHITE BASS, STRIPED BASS, CATFISH & CRAPPIE
Black Bass
Prospect Largemouth are the dominant black bass species in the river's backwaters. The average largemouth will weigh 1-2 pounds, with larger catches in the 7 to 8-pound range being possible. Spotted bass are more abundant than largemouth along the main river channel. The average spot will run about a pound in size, but a fair number of 3 to 4+ pound spots are pulled from this river each year.  
Technique Spinnerbaits, crankbaits, plastic worms and jigs will all bring bass bites at various times of the year. Fishing live minnows or shad can also make for a quality day of fishing on the Coosa River.
Target Look to the main river's bluff banks and creek mouths for spotted bass. Largemouth are typically found in low numbers along the shoreline of the main river channel. For largemouth, anglers should move into the sloughs and backwaters off the main stem of the river. Hit Brushy Branch (Big Cedar Creek), Kings Creek and Mt. Hope Creek for plenty of quality largemouth fishing. However, shallow water and numerous stumps and logs require boaters to navigate these areas with care, especially in the fall and winter months when water levels can be low.
White bass
Prospect White bass numbers were down last year and are again expected to be below average this year. While fish numbers are expected to be down, white bass size quality should be above average with larger females running around 2 pounds and males averaging 3/4 to 1 pound.  
Technique In the spring, try small white or chartreuse jigs or 1/4 to 1/2-ounce shad-patterned crankbaits such as Rat-L-Traps, Rapalas or Bombers. Select crankbaits that run in the 8-10 foot depth range. From a boat, cast these baits as close to shore as possible to mimic a bait fish fleeing to deeper water. A steady retrieve is usually all that is needed to spark a strike. One can also use white, blue, silver, or chartreuse 1/2 ounce spoons jigged near the bottom to tempt white bass holding deeper in the river. Live minnows fished under a bobber, especially around tributary mouths, can also elicit strikes from these "mini linesides." In the late fall and winter months, jigs, spoons, and inline spinners (ex. Panther Martins) can be good bait choices for those seeking some cold water white bass action.
Target White bass make their annual spawning run from Lake Weiss into the Coosa River between late February and early May. Hunt these spawn-run fish on the Coosa from the Old River Road boat ramp, upstream to Mayo's Lock and Dam Park. Target the inside bends of the river, creek mouths, and sandbars near the lock. Start fishing late morning, as warming daytime water temperatures often bring white bass shallow to feed. After the spawn, the majority of fish return to Lake Weiss. As such, few white bass will be found in the river during the summer months. With the return of cold weather (Nov.-Jan.), white bass can again be found in the lower reaches of the river between GA Power's Plant Hammond downstream to the GA/AL state line.
Striped Bass
Prospect The river's striped bass population is one of only a handful of naturally reproducing freshwater populations in the nation. DNR survey data indicates the 2012 and 2013 years classes of stripers are strong and should grow into the 8-10 pound size range in 2017. As such, anglers may encounter more of these mid-size "linesides" on the end of their lines this year. The number of stripers from 10-20 pounds will be decent and similar to the levels of recent years. Trophy fish in the 30-pound range are available, but severe drought conditions in 2017 may have reduced the number of these older, larger fish in the population.  
Technique Stout fishing gear is imperative when fishing for these powerful fish. A bait caster fitted with 20 to 30-pound line and mounted on a stout 7 to 7 1/2-foot rod is a great all-around river striper rig. Fishing live or cut shad is preferred, but many can be fooled using artificial lures such as bucktail jigs, shad-colored crankbaits and large jerkbaits fished around swift water near fallen trees.
Target April through early June is prime for catching Coosa River stripers. Stripers may be caught throughout the river's length at this time, but the upper section from Rome, Georgia to several miles downstream is premier striped bass water. However, after the spring spawn the fish disperse to cool water refuge basin-wide. Once the summer heat sets in anglers will find very few striped bass in the mainstem Coosa River. In fall, stripers will move back toward Lake Weiss, where they can be found chasing shad on the main river channel. Target the lower sections of the river and into Lake Weiss during the winter months.
Catfish
Prospect This river offers excellent catfishing opportunities for anglers. Blue, channel and flathead catfish of all sizes are abundant. The typical blue cat runs 2-3 pounds in weight. Blues in the 20-30 pound range are not uncommon and larger trophy sized fish can top the 50 pound mark. Flathead catfish are fewer in number than blue cats, but heavy-weights are present. Several "flatties" in the 40 pound range were captured by anglers in 2016. Channel cats are abundant, but most are under 5 pounds in size.  
Technique A variety of unsavory baits can be used in the pursuit of catfish, but most trophy cats prefer live or cut bait offerings of shad or bream. Channel cats and smaller blue cats can also be caught with regularity using traditional chicken liver, worms or prepared catfish baits.
Target Fish areas in and around the log jams common along the Coosa's banks, but don't overlook mid-channel areas with a bit more current, such as those created around bridge abutments and other structures, as actively feeding cats often frequent these areas in search of food. The deeper mid-channel areas near steep bluff banks, found in several locations of the lower Coosa River, are also good areas to try in the pursuit of big river catfish. Catfish opportunities for the bank angler can be found at Mayo's Lock and Dam Park and Heritage Park in downtown Rome.
Crappie
Prospect Crappie numbers should be good this spring. While both black and white crappie inhabit these waters, black crappie dominate. The average crappie will be 2/3 of a pound, but 2-plus pound "papermouths" are not uncommon.  
Technique Small hair or plastic jigs, or live minnows fished below a bobber are classic approaches to catching crappie.
Target Look to the numerous tributary mouths and backwaters of the Coosa River during March and April to find spawning concentrations of crappie. A fair number are also caught during this period from the banks of the Mayo Lock and Dam Park near Rome, GA. Crappie move to deeper ledges and brush piles in summer and are often best pursued at night under a light. With the return of cooling fall temperatures, the crappie bite generally improves on the main river channel. Target areas immediately below log jams between GA Powers Plant Hammond and the GA/AL state line.
Other Species
Prospect Freshwater drum, smallmouth buffalo and gar abound in the Coosa River. Drum average 12 inches, but some greater than 20 inches in length are available. The smallmouth buffalo looks like a "grey" carp. Most run 3-5 pounds in size, but a few will tip scales over the 10-pound mark. Longnose and spotted gar average 3 feet from nose to tail, but 4 to 5-foot longnose gar are not out of the question in this river.
Technique Pieces of shrimp, clams, muscles, worms, or minnows and small jigs fished along the river bottom may provoke strikes from drum. Smallmouth buffalo can be enticed with worms, small bits of fish, and prepared carp baits. For gar, use 6 to 8-inch hookless minnow imitations made from frayed rope designed to entangle the numerous needle-like teeth of gar cruising near the waters surface. Be sure to wear gloves when removing this type lure from the toothy jaws of a gar.
Target Drum can be found throughout the river's main stem, but the Mayo Lock and Dam area can be a hot-spot, especially in spring and early summer. Like drum, buffalo are found throughout the Coosa River's length. Gar can also be found throughout the river, but will concentrate in large spawning schools from March through early April. Look for relatively slow moving water downstream of log jams for these spawning congregations. Outside the spring months, gar can be found in smaller concentrations throughout much of the river and its backwaters.
Additional Information
Current river level and water temperature information for the Coosa River near the City of Rome are available at the following USGS website:http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?site_no=02397000

Anglers should be aware that advisories pertaining to the consumption of certain fish species have been issued for this river. Find out more about these consumption guidelines at: http://www.eregulations.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/fish-consumption-guidlines.pdf

The historic Mayo Lock and Dam Park is a popular boat access and bank fishing location on the Coosa River. Information about the amenities this Floyd County facility offers can be found at: http://romegeorgia.com/lock_dam_park.html 

The DNR lake sturgeon reintroduction program began in 2002. Since then, nearly 200,000 sturgeon fingerlings have been released in the greater Coosa River basin. Anglers accidentally catching a lake sturgeon should immediately release the fish unharmed, so that a spawning stock can be built up. Fish hooked deep will often survive if anglers cut the line near the hook and release the fish with the hook. If you catch a sturgeon, please contact the Calhoun WRD office (ph. 706-295-6102) to report the location from which the sturgeon was caught. Such information is helpful to biologists assessing the survival and dispersal of these magnificent sport fish.
Best Fishing Times Key
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Lower Etowah River (downstream of Lake Allatoona)

This river extends nearly 49 miles from Lake Allatoona Dam downstream to the city of Rome. Before heading out, call the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE) for the dams water release schedule.  Boat the Etowah with caution, as water levels can rise quickly and numerous rock formations are found throughout.

Guide to Fishing the Lower Etowah River in PDF (0.98mB). This document contains access and fishing tip information and a color map with river-mile designations.

Prospects and Fishing Tips

Best Bets
BREAM, BLACK BASS, CATFISH & STRIPED BASS
Black Bass
Prospect Spotted, largemouth and redeye bass all inhabit the Etowah River. Overall bass numbers can be considered "fair to good," with spots comprising 80 percent of the black bass population. Most are less than 12 inches, but magnum spots 20 inches and 4-plus pounds in size are present.  
Technique Jigs, shallow running hard baits like Rapala shad raps, and inline spinners should elicit strikes from any of the bass species. For larger spots, fish live bait in deep water, working baits near cover, especially cover associated with flowing water.
Target Any pool or log jam along the river may hold bass, but the sections from the Highway 1 (Rome Loop) boat ramp upstream for 5-6 miles and upstream of Highway 113 hold better numbers of spotted bass. Redeye bass are most often found around shoals or in the mouths of tributary creeks. The few largemouth found in the river will generally be found tucked-in close to large woody debris jams in slow moving river stretches.
White bass
Prospect Anglers should expect below average catches of white bass this spring, but size quality will be good. Larger females will run 2 pounds, while most males will average 3/4 of a pound.
Technique Try small white or chartreuse jigs or 1/4 to 1/2-ounce shad-patterned crankbaits such as Rat-L-Traps, Shad-raps or Bomber crankbaits. Select crankbaits that run in the 5-8 foot depth range. From a boat, cast these baits as close to shore as possible to mimic a bait fish fleeing to deeper water. A steady retrieve is usually all that is needed to spark a strike.
Target White bass seasonally stack-up in the Etowah River during their spring spawning run. Outside this mid-March through early May period few white bass will be found in the river. Anglers seeking these spawn-run-fish should target the lower river miles above the Etowah's confluence with the Oostanaula River in Rome. Target, downed-trees, boulders and creek mouths in search of these mini-linesides. With limited bank access, this river is best fished from a small boat, canoe or kayak.
Striped Bass
Prospect Striped bass are the crown jewel of the lower Etowah River. Striper fishing is best done from a small boat between April and October. Outside these months, anglers will find few stripers in the river because they migrate back to Lake Weiss in the fall. 

Striper numbers should be on the upswing, as fish from the strong 2012 and 2013 year classes fill the ranks. These fish will be 7-10 pounds in 2017. Larger 10-20 pound striper numbers should be good and similar to recent years. A DNR survey crew captured and released a monster 42.5 pound striper from this river in spring 2015.
 
Technique Live shad is key, though artificial lures have their place on the river. Try throwing large surface lures, like a Zara Spook or Redfin, to draw powerful surface strikes from hungry striped bass. Shallow running crankbaits in shad-patterned colors are also good choices. Fish these lures upstream of cover, allowing the lure to swing past likely strike zones on the retrieve. Use this same technique when fishing live bait as well. A bait caster fitted with 20 to 30-pound line and mounted on a stout 7 to 7 1/2-foot rod is a great all-around river striper fishing rig.
Target Stripers will congregate in the river from the low-head Thomson-Wyman Dam in Cartersville, downstream to Highway 1 (Rome Loop) during the heat of summer. Within this lengthy river stretch, stripers may occupy any pool, especially those associated with fallen trees or logs. A number of natural springs and cold tributary creeks feed this river stretch and create thermal refuges for adult stripers in the summer.
Catfish
Prospect The catfish population offers anglers one of the best opportunities in the area. Channel, blue and flathead cats are all available. Average blues weigh in at nearly 3 pounds, with 8 to 10-pound fish being commonplace. Blue cats larger than 40 pounds are caught every year from the lower section of this river. Channel cats are twice as abundant as blues and usually run around a pound in size - with better fish hitting 5 pounds. Flatheads are present, but their numbers are low and sizes tend to be under the 10 pound mark.  
Technique Live or cut shad, fished on the bottom, is preferred in the pursuit of trophy cats. For more consistent catches, chicken livers, earthworms and catalpa worms are the more common options for producing good catches of "dinner-size" catfish.
Target Look for larger cats in the river's deep flowing pools, especially those associated with structure like log jams or boulders. Catfish will often move into shallower flowing waters in the evening to feed. Some of the better catfish river stretches are between Highway 113 downstream to Highway 411 and around the Rome Bypass.
Bream
Prospect Bluegill, redbreast and redear sunfish dominate the Etowah's bream fishery. Expect the average fish to be around 6 inches, with larger fish in the 7 to 8-inch range available.  
Technique Crickets and worms are an angler's best bet, though small jigs, in-line spinners, and beetle spins can be effective bream catching baits.
Target For sunfish, target the river area above Highway 411. Fish areas immediately downstream of fallen trees and logjams, which provide current breaks for these slack-water inhabitants.
Other Species
Prospect Freshwater drum, smallmouth buffalo and several redhorse sucker species are also available to Etowah River anglers. Drum numbers are excellent and "bull" drum up to 20 inches are available, but most average 12 inches in length. The deep muscular body of a drum make them hard fighters and fine table-fare. While not often sought after as table-fare, buffalo and suckers are abundant and offer river anglers an opportunity to pursue "something different" in the river.
Technique Keep in mind drum often feed along the river bottom. Small white jigs bumped along the "runs" of the river, live crawfish, cut mussels, dough baits or shrimp drifted along the river bottom are ideal techniques for catching freshwater drum. Worms or small morsels of cut bait can also be effective for catching drum, as well as the bottom feeding buffalo and various sucker species found in the river.
Target Concentrate in the "runs" of the river for drum. These are river sections with swift-moving water 2 to 3 feet deep. Drum found in these river runs are often actively feeding. Though numbers are good throughout the river, target the 2-mile stretch of river above the Highway 1 (Rome Loop) boat ramp in Rome. Both buffalo and suckers are common in the Etowah, but they often inhabit different areas of the river. Redhorse suckers are usually found in shallower, flowing water, whereas buffalo are more common in the slack-water pools of the river. Summer's clear water conditions often permit sight fishing for buffalo and drum. Subtle presentations from a distant vantage point may entice strikes from these wary species.
Additional Information
When the dam at Allatoona Reservoir is generating, the waters of the lower Etowah can rise as much as 3 to 4 feet in a short period, creating sometimes dangerous boating and wading conditions. The water release schedule is variable, however information about the daily generation schedule can be obtained from the Allatoona COE office (ph. 678-721-6700). 

Anglers should be aware that advisories pertaining to the consumption of certain fish species have been issued for this river. Find out more about these consumption guidelines at: http://www.eregulations.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/fish-consumption-guidlines.pdf

Current river level and flow conditions for the lower Etowah River are available at the following USGS Web site: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ga/nwis/uv/?site_no=02395980&PARAmeter_cd=00065,00060,00062

The DNR lake sturgeon reintroduction program began in 2002. Since then, nearly 200,000 sturgeon fingerlings have been released into the greater Coosa River basin, which includes the Etowah River. Sturgeon grow slowly and do not mature for 12-15 years, so it is important to protect them from harvest until they can reproduce and once again support some limited harvest. Anglers accidentally catching a lake sturgeon should immediately release the fish unharmed. Fish hooked deep will often survive if anglers cut the line near the hook and release the fish with the hook. If you catch a sturgeon, please contact the Calhoun WRD office (ph. 706-295-6102) to report the location from which the sturgeon was caught. Such information is helpful to biologists assessing the survival and dispersal of these magnificent sport fish.
Best Fishing Times Key
Excellent:   image     Good:   image   Fair:   image

 


Upper Flint River

The upper Flint River is one of Georgia's most treasured natural resources and home to a unique and productive sport fishery.  It provides the most suitable habitat anywhere for the shoal bass, one of Georgia's signature species. Characteristics of the Flint River make it especially suitable for canoe and kayak float trips.

Prospects and Fishing Tips

Best Bets
SHOAL BASS, SPOTTED BASS, REDBREAST SUNFISH, CHANNEL CATFISH & FLATHEAD CATFISH
Shoal Bass
Prospect New Regulation: 15-inch minimum length limit for shoal bass from the Flint River and its tributaries upstream of Warwick Dam. Shoal bass are considered the signature species of the Flint River and current size structure indicates good reproductive success, with quality fishing expected for the next couple of years. Shoal bass are common in both Piedmont and Coastal Plain portions of the upper Flint River and most population characteristics are presently about average. Just over 30% of the population is in the 11 to 15-inch range, but always be prepared for the occasional 20 to 22-inch fish. Best fishing for shoal bass is in May and June and again from September through November.
Technique Preferred spinning gear is light to medium and a variety of lures are effective. Try small swimming minnows, spinner baits, top water poppers and Texas-rigged worms and lizards. When fly-fishing, wade the shoals with a 6-8 weight bass or trout rod and plenty of woolly buggers and poppers.
Target Target the Piedmont section from Joe Kurz WMA to around Highway 128. Named for their preferred habitat, shoal bass are found in a number of notable fishing shoals, including Waddell, Dripping Rock, Goat Mountain, Pasley, Sprewell Bluff, Owens, Yellow Jacket, Hightower, Daniels and Snipes. Shoal bass are found in the Coastal Plain below Highway 128 as well and the average size is usually larger than in the Piedmont. They are presently very abundant in this area where they prefer swifter water near the banks, typically around larger snags. New this year is a 15-inch minimum size limit for shoal bass from the Flint River and its tributaries upstream of Warwick Dam.
Spotted bass
Prospect Spotted bass were illegally introduced into the upper Flint several years ago and they are now slightly more abundant than shoal bass in the Piedmont above Highway 96. Spotted bass presently reach maximum lengths of 16 - 17 inches, compared to 20 - 22 inches for shoal bass. Average size is also slightly smaller than shoal bass. There is no length limit on spotted bass in the Flint River and anglers are encouraged to keep all spots up to the maximum daily limit of 10 fish for all bass species combined.
Technique Spots are aggressive and readily strike most lures used for largemouth bass and shoal bass.
Target Look for spots in the Piedmont section, from above Joe Kurz WMA downriver to below Highway 128. They are found in a wider range of habitats than shoal bass and largemouth bass, but are most abundant in moderate currents, on the edges of shoals and around snags.
Catfish
Prospect Channel and flathead catfish are numerous in both the Piedmont and Coastal Plain sections of the upper Flint River, and larger channel catfish in the 5-7 pound range are presently common. Also expect the occasional 40-plus pound flathead, so come prepared with stout gear.
Technique Set hooks, trotlines and rod and reel are all effective. For channel cats, use earthworms, prepared baits, liver, catalpa worms and crayfish. For flatheads, live bait is a must - try bream, large minnows, shad or smaller catfish.
Target Target channel cats in deep areas around shoals and in river bends, particularly near snags. Flatheads are abundant in the Piedmont section but are generally smaller than in the Coastal Plain areas below Highway 128. Look for deeper river bends around snags and bring your patience since flatheads seem to feed aggressively only at certain times of the day.
Bream
Prospect In addition to shoal bass, redbreast sunfish are another angler favorite. The Flint is known for its hand-sized redbreast and the larger fish are presently abundant. Over 30% are in the 6-7 inch class. Recent fluctuations from low to relatively high flows have reduced fishing pressure, so expect some fast action this spring for larger redbreast.
Technique Redbreast are great sport on ultra light gear. Favorite lures are very small spinners such as roostertails, small curly-tail grubs with spinners, beetle spins and the smallest of crankbaits. Crickets are a traditional favorite and rarely fail to produce. For fly-fishing, small poppers and wet flies that resemble spiders or caterpillars are recommended.
Target Redbreast are abundant in both Piedmont and Coastal Plain regions of the Flint River. Look for redbreast around shoals and along the banks near snags in moderate current. During the spring spawning season they bed in slack current in sandy areas along the banks.
Other Species
Prospect Other species also common in both Piedmont and Coastal Plain sections of the upper Flint River are largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish (shellcrackers) and crappie.
Technique A boat is required. The best method is to drift fish in slack water areas and cast or fish live bait in and around snags. Tactics and gear are similar to those used for these species in lakes and ponds.
Target Find these species in slack water areas around cover, rather than in the shoals and flowing water preferred by shoal bass, spotted bass, and redbreast sunfish.
Additional Information
Auburn University and the Wildlife Resources Division have just completed a comprehensive shoal bass study on the Flint River to investigate the effects of competition and possible hybridization among shoal bass, spotted bass and largemouth bass. Additional objectives are to investigate movement patterns, basic life history, age and growth, food habits and habitat use. A shoal bass exploitation study has also been conducted requiring the insertion of orange anchor tags that are visible in the abdomen area. A few tagged fish may remain in the system and anglers that catch shoal bass with anchor tags should remove the tags and call the Auburn University phone number indicated on the tag. 

The non-native longear sunfish has recently been found in the upper Flint from Joe Kurz WMA to near Big Lazer Creek WMA. These are among the most colorful of the sunfish family but are smaller than redbreast and are not considered a desirable sportfish. Adults are characterized by wavy blue markings on the head, an orange and yellow body with blue spots, and a white margin on the opercular (ear) flap. With the recent introductions of spotted bass and longear sunfish, the species composition of the upper Flint River has been significantly altered. All anglers should be aware of the potential harm to traditional sport fisheries that could result from the introduction of non-native species. 
 
Best Fishing Times Key
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Lower Flint River

The character of the Flint River changes drastically after the Fall Line around Highway 128.  Bottom substrate changes to predominantly sand and the river channel begins to meander, with banks alternating between sand point bars and willow thickets.

  Guide to Fishing and Floating the Lower Flint River

in PDF (2.85 mB). This document contains access and fishing tip information and a color map with river-mile designations.

Prospects and Fishing Tips

Best Bets
SHOAL BASS, LARGEMOUTH BASS, HYBRID BASS, FLATHEAD CATFISH & CHANNEL CATFISH
Largemouth bass
Prospect Numbers of largemouth caught during fall surveys continue to increase, so expect an abundance of quality-size fish from several strong year classes.  
Technique Largemouth readily accept a variety of artificial lures including, spinnerbaits, soft plastics, top water and crankbaits. Try targeting slack water areas, brushpiles and eddies behind stumps and trees along the shoreline.
Target For trophy fish, target the two-mile stretch of river below Warwick Dam and from Lake Chehaw to Abrams shoals. Good numbers of quality largemouth can be found below Newton and Plant Mitchell. Though often overlooked in the winter months, fishing can be good, as bass tend to congregate around the many springs in the river.
Shoal Bass
Prospect Shoal bass are the river's prime species. A few recent poor year classes will make fishing tough, but there should be good numbers of smaller fish from recent better year classes. Please report tagged shoal bass to the Albany Fisheries Management office at 229.430.4256.  
Technique Shoal bass are very aggressive and respond readily to a variety of artificial baits. Jigs and soft plastics in crawfish patters are favorites. In shoal areas, try topwater lures. Fly-fishing is challenging, but increasingly popular - try woolly buggers and large surface poppers.
Target The best time of year to target shoals is during the spring and fall. Shoal bass prefer swift water usually near shoals. For the best action, target shoal areas below Newton (Baker County) and upstream of Highway 32 in Lee County. Also look to small islands found upstream from the mouth of Ichawaynochaway Creek. In the early spring consider the tailraces below the Albany and Blackshear dams.
Hybrid Bass
Prospect Hybrid abundance is fair with fewer hybrids seen below the dams.  
Technique Casting bucktails is recommended. Crankbaits like shad raps and rapalas also work well. Anglers also use live shad and chicken liver.
Target In spring, target the area below Albany Dam. Also look to the tailrace below Warwick Dam during spring and summer.
White bass
Prospect Populations of white bass have been good below Lake Blackshear the last few years. Most fish will be small, but if you find a school the action can be fast and furious. An excellent year class last year should provide great fishing in the tailrace this spring.  
Technique Look for schooling white bass chasing bait on the surface and cast small jerk baits or jigs into the school.
Target Fish the tailraces below Lake Worth and Blackshear during the spring.
Striped Bass
Prospect Expect most stripers in the 14 to 20-inch range and weighing in at less than 4 pounds due to negative impacts from recent droughts. Striper abundance is decent which should provide good spring fishing opportunities. Please report tagged stripers to the Albany Fisheries Management office (229-430-4256). An increase in 20 to 40 pound fish were observed during sampling efforts this summer. There should be an excellent chance for anglers to break the 30 pound mark and possibly even 40 pounds.  
Technique Casting bucktails is recommended. Crankbaits like shad raps and rapalas also work well. Live shad also is a favorite bait of many anglers.
Target In spring, target the tailraces below the Albany and Warwick dams.
Catfish
Prospect Flathead catfish are a favorite among river anglers. Catches of large fish have been good during low water conditions, and this year most catches should range from 20-28 inches and weigh less than 10 pounds. Best times to fish are in the spring (prior to spawning) under rising water conditions and again in the summer. Harvestable-size channel catfish also are abundant.  
Technique For flatheads, live bait is a must - bream is preferred. For channel cats, try bottom fishing with worms, chicken liver or dead shrimp.
Target Look to productive areas downstream of Highway 32 in Lee County and the section above Newton in Baker County for flatheads. Concentrate efforts immediately above and/or below the numerous shoals for channel catfish, particularly the area below Warwick Dam.
Bream
Prospect Populations have been negatively effected due to recent droughts. Populations are recovering this year due to increased water flows, but most fish caught will be on the small side.  
Technique A variety of artificial and live baits, including crickets, beetle spins and small jigs are effective. Many anglers also are realizing the enjoyment of fly-fishing for bream. A variety of flies, from popping bugs to nymphs, work well.
Target Target snags and blowdowns in the river section above Lake Blackshear and upstream from Lake Worth to Abram Shoals. Redbreast sunfish can be found in and around the shoal areas of the river. Look for redear sunfish throughout the lower Flint from Lake Blackshear downstream to Newton, and lower.
Other Species
Prospect Spring may bring encounters with Alabama shad. These anadromous fish are being restored to the river through fish passage efforts at Jim Woodruff Lock and Dam.  
Technique Shad readily accept small jigs and can provide fast and feisty fun on lightweight tackle.
Target Look to the tailrace during the spring.
Best Fishing Times Key
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Ochlockonee River

The Ochlockonee River may not be as familiar to anglers as other major river in south Georgia, but it is worthy of a visit.  

Prospects and Fishing Tips

Best Bets
REDBREAST SUNFISH, LARGEMOUTH BASS, and CATFISH
Largemouth bass
Prospect Largemouth bass populations were hit hard by recent droughts, but fall sampling has shown an increase in quality fish. The population is recovering well and fish caught should be of better than average size.  
Technique The usual arsenal of tackle will work, including spinnerbaits, plastic worms and small crankbaits. Be sure to fish these in slower moving stretches of the river.
Target Target the backwater areas near Thomasville and the section of the river upstream from Highway 93.
Suwanee Bass
Prospect Smaller than its largemouth cousin, Suwannee bass are a unique member of the sunfish family and only are found in a few streams in south Georgia and north Florida. The overall population is relatively small and has been negatively impacted by droughts. Fishing will be very tough for Suwannee bass this year. However, those caught will likely be of quality size.  
Technique Small crankbaits, spinner baits and soft plastics are recommended.
Target Concentrate in swifter water, but look to brushpiles and blow downs along the deeper banks and pools as summer progresses and the river recedes. The stretch of river that borders River Creek WMA offers excellent fishing and lends itself well to the increasingly popular sport of kayak fishing.
Catfish
Prospect The river is home to channel, white and bullhead catfish. Fish the river during the warmer months for numerous catfish catches. Recently, flathead catfish were also discovered in the river. For catfish anglers, this will add another species to target.  
Technique Any favorite catfish bait fished on a simple bottom rig should be effective.
Target Deeper bends and backwaters of the river.
Bream
Prospect The Ochlockonee is a slow-moving, blackwater stream that offers good fishing for redbreast sunfish. Though lacking in abundance, redear sunfish, black crappie, spotted sunfish and warmouth also are available. Populations of bream have been negatively effected by recent droughts. Redbreast sunfish were stocked to offset drought impacts and sampling shows that redbreast fishing should be better than in the past several years.  
Technique Live bait is recommended: crickets and worms during early spring. Switch to artificial lures like beetle spins and popping bugs as spring progresses and water temperatures rise.
Target Target redbreast in the lower portions of the river, from Highway 93 to Hadley's Ferry Road.
Additional Information
Check the river gauge near Thomasville before heading out. If the gauge height is much above 5 feet then it is difficult to effectively fish because the water is well into the floodplain. If the gauge height is below 2 1/2 feet, plan to drag your boat over logs and other obstructions. USGS river gauge information can be viewed at the following Web site: http://nwis.waterdata.usgs.gov/ga/nwis/dv/?site_no=02327500
 
Best Fishing Times Key
Excellent:   image     Good:   image   Fair:   image

 


Upper Ocmulgee River

The Ocmulgee River begins at Lake Jackson, the junction of the Yellow, South,and Alcovy rivers.  From Lloyd Shoals Dam at Lake Jackson, the river flows southeast through Piedmont shoals for 36 miles before crossing the Fall Line just above Macon. Below Macon, the character of the river changes dramatically as the floodplain widens to produce the shifting channel meandering characteristic of the upper Coastal Plain.  The Ocmulgee River from Lloyd Shoals Dam to Hawkinsville is split by the Fall Line and provides two distinctly different fishing opportunities.  Anglers in central Georgia have the unique opportunity to experience each within a short drive from Macon, Warner Robins or Perry.

Guide to Fishing and Floating the Upper Ocmulgee River in PDF (1.73 MB).  This document contains access and fishing tip information a color map with river-mile designations.

Prospects and Fishing Tips

Best Bets
SHOAL BASS, SPOTTED BASS, CHANNEL CATFISH, FLATHEAD CATFISH, AMERICAN SHAD
Largemouth bass
Prospect New Regulation: largemouth bass 12-inch minimum length limit. The predominate black bass species below Macon is largemouth bass, with good numbers presently in the 12 - 15 inch range. Largemouth bass fishing is predicted to be good for the next 2 - 3 years due to an abundance of smaller bass in the 8 - 12 inch category. A quality largemouth fishery is also found above Macon, but these fish average slightly smaller.
Technique Expect good catches with the right techniques. Fool largemouth with a lightly weighted plastic worm or lizard cast close to the snags. Spinner baits, medium rapala-type crankbaits, plastic jerk baits and topwater plugs also are effective. The key for largemouth is getting the lure deep into the cover.
Target Target the calmer waters along the banks around snags in the area of the river below Macon. Above Macon try the area between Lloyd Shoals Dam and Hwy 16. Any of the flatwater sections between the numerous shoals can also be productive. New this year is a 12-inch minimum length limit for largemouth bass from the Ocmulgee River (Macon's Spring Street bridge crossing to confluence with the Oconee River).
Shoal Bass
Prospect Shoal bass were stocked in the upper Ocmulgee River during the 1970s where they are now as abundant as the native Flint River population. Most shoal bass caught in the upper Ocmulgee will be 12 - 16 inches and the occasional 20 - 22 inch lunker is also available. The present abundance of shoal bass in the 11 - 13 inch class predicts good fishing for the next several years. The best fishing is in May - June and again in the fall.
Technique Small to medium swimming minnow lures, spinner baits, poppers and artificial worms are preferred. For fly-fishing, bring along plenty of woolly buggers and medium poppers. Wade fishing shoals may be the most productive method but drift fishing from canoe or kayak is also effective.
Target As a first choice, target the area of alternating shoals and flat water reaches between Highway 16 and Wise Creek. This area may provide one of the best angling experiences in the state, but any stretch of river with shoals from Lake Jackson to Macon will contain shoal bass.
Spotted bass
Prospect Spotted bass stocked into Lake Jackson by anglers in the 1990s are now found in the upper Ocmulgee from Lake Jackson to the Warner Robins area. Expect the average spot to be slightly smaller than shoal bass, with the largest segment of the population between 6 - 10 inches. Fair numbers in the 12 - 14 inch range are also present, with the occasional spot reaching 20 inches.
Technique Techniques used for shoal bass and largemouth bass are also effective for spotted bass.
Target Target areas near Lloyd Shoals Dam with moderate current. Also look to the area of alternating shoals and flat water reaches between Highway 16 and Wise Creek, and in the Highway 83 area. Spotted bass are probably more aggressive than other black bass species and are found in a wider range of habitats than largemouth bass or shoal bass.
Striped Bass
Prospect Stripers were first stocked in Lake Jackson in 2005, adding to the hybrid bass population found in the Lloyd Shoals Dam tailrace fishery. Hybrid stockings were eliminated during 2007 - 2012 and the numbers found below Lake Jackson declined as well. Significant numbers of hybrids were again stocked in 2013 and this policy should continue in future years. Hybrids escaping from Lake Jackson into the upper Ocmulgee River should average 12 - 14 inches the first year and will eventually reach 6 - 8 lb. Stripers that escape from Lake Jackson should average 4 - 5 lb. and could reach the 30 lb. class. Additional sources of striped bass are escapees from Lake Juliette where they have been stocked for 10-plus years and from more recent stockings in the lower Altamaha associated with a basin-wide restoration project. These stockings add to the traditional spring striped bass fishery below the Juliette Dam and the recent hybrid stockings will add variety to the mix.
Technique Larger jigs cast into swift current or live shad fished in deeper areas near dams are usually most productive.
Target The most productive areas are the quarter mile reach below the Juliette Dam and just below the weir in the Lloyd Shoals Dam tailrace. Early spring is always the prime season for striper fishing.
Catfish
Prospect Channel catfish are abundant throughout the river and flathead catfish introduced into the upper Ocmulgee in the 1970s have spread throughout most of the Altamaha Basin. Recent sampling indicates the presence of flathead catfish above Juliette Dam, and numbers in this area are likely to increase over the next several years. Flatheads are especially abundant in the Coastal Plain section of the river below Macon.
Technique Rod and reel fishing can be effective for channel catfish, but also try trotlines or bushhooks baited with prepared baits, liver, crayfish and a variety of home recipes. The same gear is effective for flatheads, but live baits must be used. The most effective bait is a medium-size redbreast or bluegill.
Target Fish the river below Macon where catfish are most abundant. A 103 lb. flathead catfish was caught in this area several years ago. The more productive areas are deeper holes with structure in meandering sections.
Bream
Prospect The upper Ocmulgee River has excellent populations of redbreast sunfish, bluegill, and redear sunfish (shellcracker). Redbreast typically average 5 inches, bluegill 5 - 6 inches and redear sunfish 8 - 9 inches. Sunfish populations have been down recently, probably related to near drought conditions that existed for several years. The recent return of more normal flows should improve growth and reproduction of sunfish populations, resulting in better bream fishing beginning this spring. The exotic longear sunfish has increased in abundance over the last several years and are generally considered a nuisance. These colorful sunfish average just under 4 inches.
Technique For redbreast: Crickets are the traditional bait, but ultra light tackle with small spinners or fly-fishing with small poppers or spider imitations sometimes can be just as productive. Bluegill can be caught using the same techniques used for redbreast. For redear: Try fishing on the bottom using worms, as they rarely take artificial baits.
Target For redbreast: Target areas of swift to moderate current except during the spring spawning season when they bed in large numbers in calmer water. The area of alternating shoals and flat water reaches between Highway 16 and Wise Creek are good bets. Also, expect to find good populations of redbreast near any shoal throughout the lightly fished area between the Juliette Dam and Macon. For bluegill and redear: The half mile reach below Lloyd Shoals Dam provides some of the best fishing in the river. Bluegill and redbreast also are typically abundant below Macon and May through June are the most productive months in this reach. Redear are caught in large numbers only during the spring spawning season when they bed near shore, in calm water.
Other Species
Prospect Fishing for American shad is as popular as bass fishing in some parts of the country, but receives little attention in Georgia. Expect the average shad to measure 20 inches and weigh a little over 2 pounds. Find shad below Juliette Dam from March through May, but the peak is during the April spawn.
Technique The most effective tackle for American shad is a medium weight spinning rod with "shad darts" or similar small jigs, or a 6-8 weight fly rod with small streamers.
Target Target the area from the base of Juliette Dam downstream about one-half mile.
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Lower Ocmulgee River

The lower Ocmulgee River is large and sluggish with many meandering bends and some oxbow lakes. The river offers a variety of fishing opportunities, and anglers can look to the Ocmulgee's lower portion for bass, bream and catfish.  

Guide to Fishing and Floating the Lower Ocmulgee River  in PDF (2.33MB).  This document contains access and fishing tip information and a color map with river-mile designations.

Prospects and Fishing Tips

Best Bets
REDEAR SUNFISH, CATFISH, BLUEGILL & LARGEMOUTH BASS
Largemouth bass
Prospect Current Regulation: largemouth bass 12-inch minimum length limit. Expect bass catches slightly below average, with most averaging 12-16 inches, but be prepared for the occasional lunker in the 7 to 10-pound range.
Technique Crankbaits, spinnerbaits, plastic worms and lizards are popular lures.
Target Target oxbow lakes and slack-water areas containing overhanging willows and woody structure, especially during spring. In the summer, try fishing eddy pockets, the downstream end of sandbars and heavy cover along the banks.
Catfish
Prospect Expect decent numbers of channel and flathead catfish catches. Most channel cats will average 1/2 - 2 1/2 pounds. Anglers are encouraged to harvest flathead catfish when you catch them. Late winter to late summer is considered the best time to target flatheads.
Technique Utilize heavy-duty sporting tackle on limb or trotlines. Live baits work best; try fishing shiners, bream or Louisiana pinks.
Target For flatheads, target areas around snags in the deep holes along outside bends of the river channel during the day.
Bream
Prospect Bluegill, redear sunfish and redbreast sunfish are all present in the lower section of the river. Expect decent numbers of bream due to the high water levels that have persisted in the Ocmulgee in recent years.
Technique For bluegill: Popular baits include crickets and catalpa worms fished near the bottom below a light cork. For redbreast sunfish: Fishing crickets or worms are most popular. Try fishing your bait suspended below a float just above the bottom or tight-lined on the bottom. For redear sunfish: Favorite baits are red wigglers or pink worms fished near the bottom under a cork.
Target When targeting bluegill try pitching bait around cover along the shoreline of oxbow lakes, sloughs, slack-water areas or eddy pockets. Target redbreast in flowing water around structure along creek and river channels. Also try the head and tail ends of sandbars. In late summer, target redear sunfish around woody debris and overhanging vines along the riverbank. In the fall, try fishing around flooded grasses and vegetation near mouths of oxbow lakes and creeks.
Additional Information
USGS river gage information can be found at: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ga/nwis/rt 
 
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Oconee River

The Oconee flows through Athens and southwest for about 265 miles where it joins the Ocmulgee to form the Altamaha River.  The upper portion includes bedrock outcroppings, stable bank cover and a gravel bottom, while the lower part features cutaway sand banks, fallen woody debris, and a river bottom of primarily sand and silt.    

Prospects and Fishing Tips

Best Bets
BREAM, CATFISH, & LARGEMOUTH BASS
Black Bass
Prospect Both largemouth and redeye bass are available along with the occasional spotted bass. The lower section of the river holds good amounts of largemouth. Expect above average harvest rates this year when fishing for black bass. The majority of catches will measure less than 14 inches. Approximately 20% percent measure greater than 14 inches, and the occasional 20-plus inch fish is available.
Technique Classic largemouth baits are a chartreuse/white snagless sally, plastic jerkbaits, spinnerbaits or a pig and jig. Also try small soft plastics, large spinners and shallow diving crankbaits for all species of bass.
Target Find redeye bass in the swifter water sections having bedrock outcroppings. Target largemouth by fishing the shoreline near fallen trees with moderate current and gradually work into slacker water areas with good cover.
White bass
Prospect March through April are the best months to target white bass, as they make spawning runs up the Oconee and Apalachee rivers. Spawning runs should be above average considering the constant increases in water levels over the past year.
Technique During spawning runs, use little George's, rooster tails, small lipless crankbaits, white, green, yellow and chartreuse 2-inch curly tail grubs, in-line spinners, and live minnows and small shad.
Target These fish can be caught on sandbars and deep river-bends, but prime locations are below the Barnett Shoals Dam south of Athens and in creekmouths between the dam and Lake Oconee.
Catfish
Prospect Expect plenty of smaller channel and white catfish throughout, as native catfish populations are shifting due to introduced blue and flathead catfish populations. Blues and flatheads continue to expand their population and numerous 30-plus pound flatheads have been caught in recent years. Anglers are encouraged to harvest ALL flathead and blue catfish!!
Technique Live shad or bluegill and cut bait are best bets for flatheads, and hot summer nights are the best time to cast a line. Also try worms or cut bait fished on the bottom. Anglers are encouraged to harvest ALL blue and flathead catfish!!
Target During warm summer months, morning and night fishing are particularly good for all catfish. Their consistent bite make them an ideal species when introducing children to fishing.
Bream
Prospect Expect above average harvest rates this year when fishing for bream. Recent sampling efforts indicate higher numbers of redbreast sunfish than in previous years. Bluegill sunfish make up approximately 30 percent of the population, with average fish greater than 5 inches and a few ranging 6-10 inches. Redbreast sunfish make up about 20 percent and average 6 inches.
Technique In the lower Oconee, try fishing close to cover with catalpa worms or crickets with split-shot and a float. Otherwise, use ultra light gear rigged with a small rooster tail or beetle spin. Also try wading the shoals with a 6-8 weight fly rod rigged with a small popper.
Target In the upper Oconee, target areas that have bedrock shoals. In the lower section, look to locations near creek mouths or deep eddy pools near swift current. Bream are often found close to structure.
Crappie
Prospect Good numbers of harvestable-size crappie are available. Fish from February through April for large numbers and larger fish.
Technique Fishing small live minnows and blue/black, blue/chartreuse, white, green or yellow artificial jigs with or without a bobber is effective.
Target In the spring, target standing timber and blowdowns in Sugar Creek and the upper end of the lake, as well as the upper ends of other major creek arms, such as Richland, Sandy and Lick creeks. These areas typically warm up first, provide good structure for baitfish and usually hold more fish. Crappie will stack up below Barnett Shoals Dam in early February and also concentrate toward creekmouths near the main lake and gradually move towards shallow water as temperatures rise in spring. Fish woody cover in slack water areas near creekmouths and creekarms on the lower Oconee. When water temps reach the low 60s (F), target bedding crappie around shallow cover and move to deeper waters after the spawn. When fishing shallow water you may only catch small males but if you fish the deeper water nearby your chances of catching larger females increase.
Additional Information
A 2 to 6-foot USGS river gauge height is ideal for fishing the Oconee River. Levels below this mark make navigating difficult, while levels above this mark typically means there is too much water in the river for productive fishing. River gauge information can be viewed at the following USGS website: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ga/nwis/rt
 
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Ogeechee River (upstream of U.S. Hwy. 17)

Dams do not regulate the Ogeechee.  The river rises and falls according to the amount of rainfall in its watershed, creating a unique fishing opportunity. This natural fluctuation in river level plays an important role in fish growth, reproductive success and ultimately fishing. a river bottom of primarily sand and silt.   

Guide to Fishing and Floating the Ogeechee River in PDF (1.12 MB).  This document contains access and fishing tip information and a color map with river-mile designations.

Prospects and Fishing Tips

Best Bets
REDBREAST SUNFISH, LARGEMOUTH BASS, BLACK CRAPPIE & CATFISH
Largemouth bass
Prospect The Ogeechee has historically maintained a healthy largemouth population. The fishing is best during the springtime, particularly in April, as water temperatures rise. Exceptionally high river flows in the system over the last couple of years have been beneficial for fish populations, including largemouth bass. The numbers and growth of largemouth look very good and catch rates should be above average for the upcoming year.
Technique Spinner baits along banks; flipping jigs and worms into tight cover along banks.
Target One of the better areas is the railroad trestle upstream of the boat ramp on Highway 56 in Midville where largemouths up to 6 pounds commonly are caught.
Catfish
Prospect The Ogeechee River contains populations of white catfish, channel catfish and bullheads. Exceptionally high river flows in the system over the last couple of years have been beneficial for fish populations, including catfish. The numbers and growth of catfish look very good and catch rates should be above average for the upcoming year.
Technique Typical catfish bait (i.e. worms, cut-bait, etc.) fished near the bottom of the river in relatively deep holes produce good results.
Target Catfish are generally concentrated where there is a combination of swift water and heavy cover. White catfish abundance increases closer to the estuary.
Bream
Prospect The Ogeechee River has historically contained one of the best redbreast fisheries in the state. In addition to redbreast sunfish, other bream species present include bluegill, redear sunfish and spotted sunfish. Exceptionally high river flows in the system over the last couple of years have been beneficial for fish populations, including bream. The numbers and growth of bream look very good and catch rates should be above average for the upcoming year.
Technique Crickets and worms fished under a bobber are effective live bait techniques. For artificial lures, consider small beetle spins, rooster tails, and popping bugs.
Target Redbreasts are plentiful in backwaters and slower moving sections of the main channel.
Crappie
Prospect Scattered pockets of black crappie provide exciting cold-weather fishing. Exceptionally high river flows in the system over the last couple of years have been beneficial for fish populations, including crappie. The numbers and growth of crappie look very good and catch rates should be above average for the upcoming year.
Technique Small minnows are the most popular live bait. Small artificial jigs (screw tail or feathered) also can be effective.
Target Fish tend to be concentrated around submerged trees and brush around the mouths of oxbows.
Additional Information
Flathead catfish are non-native to the Ogeechee River and an illegal introduction of the species would be devastating to native fish populations. Report any information regarding the illegal introduction of flatheads into the river by calling the TIP line at 1-800-241-4113, 24 hours/day, 7 days/week. 
 
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Oostanaula River

The Oostanaula winds nearly 50 miles from Calhoun to the city of Rome where it meets with the Etowah to form the larger Coosa River. The Oostanaula is a small boat river and anglers should be extra cautious when navigating, especially in the low water period during the summer. 

  "Guide to Fishing the Oostanaula River" in PDF (658 kB). This document contains access and fishing tip information and a color map with river-mile designations.

Prospects and Fishing Tips

Best Bets
CATFISH, STRIPED BASS & WHITE BASS
Black Bass
Prospect The muddy waters of the Oostanaula provide only fair bass fishing opportunities for largemouth and spotted bass. Spots dominate the population and average 7-8 inches in length, but good numbers of fat 2+ pound fish can be caught in the spring months. The less common largemouth bass average 12 inches and just over 1 pound in size. Few big largemouth call this river home.  
Technique The traditional plastic worm and grub are effective, but anglers should consider throwing jigs, crank or buzzbaits to cover more water in search of actively feeding bass. If a slower approach is preferred, fishing live minnows or shad can make for a quality day on the river.
Target Target the shoals within the 3-mile stretch above and below Highway 140 for spotted bass. The area around the Hwy 156 boat ramp outside the City of Calhoun can also be a good river stretch for "spot" fishing. In general, look to debris jams and fallen trees when seeking bass in this river. Creek mouths can hold good numbers of spotted bass, especially in the spring months. Largemouth can be found in the lower slack-water reaches of the river around shoreline cover.
White bass
Prospect Spring brings white bass into the river to spawn, but their numbers will be below average in 2017. The smaller and more abundant males will average 3/4-pound, while the larger, less abundant, females will be in the 2-pound range. Outside of March and April, anglers should expect to find very few white bass in this river.  
Technique Concentrated schools of spawn-run fish can be caught using small jigs and 1/4 to 1/2 ounce shad patterned crankbaits, such as Rat-L-Traps or Rapala Shad Raps. Hit the water later in the morning when you'll find more white bass in the warming shallows along the riverbank.
Target Target the lowest reaches of the Oostanaula from March through April. Inside river bends with cover are typically more productive than straight river sections or the deeper water found in the outside bends of the river. Tributary mouths may also attract schools of spawn-run white bass in the spring.
Striped Bass
Prospect Striper fishing can be seasonally excellent, with the best opportunity being in the months of April and May. Spawn-run stripers migrate into this river each spring to spawn. Most fish will average 8-10 pounds, but trophy fish weighing 30 or more pounds can be caught. In fact, a 40 pound female striper was captured and released in this river by DNR personnel in spring 2013. Though bigger stripers are available, severe drought conditions last year may have reduced their numbers. However, good spring spawning conditions in recent years may improve mid-sized striper abundance this year.  
Technique In the spring, live or cut shad are good bait choices. Fish live offerings on free lines with little or no added weight. Cut baits can be fished on weighted bottom rigs. Bucktail jigs, crankbaits, of surface running artificial lures can also be effective. Stout fishing gear is imperative for these powerful fish. A 7 to 7 1/2 foot rod fitted with a baitcaster spooled with 20 to 30-pound line is recommended.
Target During the spring migration, striped bass may be encountered anywhere along this river's length, but will concentrate in swift water habitats around islands or shoals. Downed trees or log jams in such areas will likely hold good numbers of fish.
Catfish
Prospect Blue, channel and flathead catfish are available to those fishing this river. Anglers can expect good numbers of blues and channel cats over this river's entire length. Blues average 2-3 pounds, but larger individuals between 5-8 pounds remain common. Trophy blues are less common but some can top 30+ pounds. Channel cats from 3/4 to 1 pound are the norm. Flatheads are the least common, but 10 to 15 pound or better fish can be caught.  
Technique Channels and smaller blue cats can be caught on bottom rigs using chicken livers, catalpa worms or prepared catfish baits. This variety of unsavory baits will produce consistent catches, but most trophy cats prefer live or cut bait offerings of shad or bream.
Target Find catfish in deep pools, beneath undercut banks or in logjams, especially those with good flow around them. However, don't overlook swifter waters below shoals, as catfish frequent these areas to feed, especially at dusk. Good bank angling opportunities can be found at Ridge Ferry Park in Rome, Georgia.
Bream
Prospect This river is not known for exceptional bream fishing. Expect low to moderate numbers of bluegill and even fewer numbers of redbreast and redear sunfish. Bluegill will average 5 inches and bream over 7 inches are rare.  
Technique Crickets or worms work best, though small jigs and spinners also are effective techniques.
Target Look for bream in slow water areas around creek mouths and the slack-water behind debris jams during the spring and summer months.
Other Species
Prospect Look for crappie during the spring spawning run, though numbers are typically low in most areas. Other species available include smallmouth buffalo, freshwater drum, carp and suckers - all of which are quite abundant in this relatively slow moving river. Smallmouth buffalo and carp typically run 3-5 pounds in size, but larger fish will approach the 10 pound mark. Drum will average 12 inches with larger "bull" drum exceeding 20 inches in length.
Technique Crappie can be enticed with white or chartreuse jigs as well as live minnows fished below a float. For drum, try live crayfish, cut shrimp, or small white jigs bumped along the river bottom. Buffalo, carp and sucker species are often coaxed to bite using worms or prepared carp baits.
Target Crappie can be found schooling in creek mouths during the spring months. For drum, target the swifter waters around shoal areas. Buffalo, carp and sucker species may be found just about anywhere in the river.
Additional Information
Keep abreast of real-time river level and flow conditions for the Oostanaula River near the city of Rome at the following USGS Website: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ga/nwis/uv?site_no=02388500

Anglers should be aware that advisories pertaining to the consumption of certain fish species have been issued for this river. Find out more about these consumption guidelines at: http://www.eregulations.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/fish-consumption-guidlines.pdf

The DNR lake sturgeon reintroduction program began in 2002. Since then, nearly 200,000 sturgeon fingerlings have been released in the greater Coosa River basin. The species grows slowly and does not mature for 12-15 years, so it is important to protect them from harvest until they can reproduce and once again support some limited harvest. Anglers accidentally catching a lake sturgeon should immediately release the fish unharmed. Fish hooked deep will often survive if anglers cut the line near the hook and release the fish with the hook. If you catch a sturgeon, please contact the Calhoun WRD office (ph. 706-295-6102) to report the location from which the sturgeon was caught. Such information is helpful to biologists assessing the survival and dispersal of these magnificent fish. 
 
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Satilla River

The Satilla River is considered to be one of the most scenic and natural rivers in south Georgia.  Originating in Ben Hill County, the river takes a free flowing and winding course for 260 miles before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean.

Guide to Fishing and Floating the Satilla River in PDF (494 KB).  This document contains access and fishing tip information and a color map with river-mile designations.

Prospects and Fishing Tips

Best Bets
REDBREAST SUNFISH, BLUEGILL, CRAPPIE & BULLHEADS
Largemouth bass
Prospect Though not known for its bass population, largemouth are present in sufficient numbers in the Satilla. A good number of bass in the 12 to 16-inch range continue to be seen. If high water levels persist into the spring there should be several bass caught in the 2-3 lb size range, but the occasional lunker is lurking.
Technique Typical bass lures work, but it's hard to beat a shallow-diving minnow plug during the spring.
Target As the river begins to fall in the early spring, target woody cover near the mouths of oxbow lakes and feeder creeks.
Catfish
Prospect Catfish fishing should be very good this year. The river supports healthy populations of snail, yellow and brown bullheads, and channel catfish. Anglers are encouraged to harvest any flathead catfish captured while fishing, regardless of size.
Technique Use worms, chicken livers, cut bait or your own secret bait fished on the bottom.
Target Fish the deeper holes, which are usually located on outside bends in the river.
Bream
Prospect One of the premier redbreast sunfish rivers in the southeast, and an angler's best bet for catching a redbreast greater than 1 pound. Some nice fish in the 3/4 -1 lb range were harvested in the spring, and if sufficient rainfall is received and water levels rise this winter and early spring, anglers should once again catch very good number of redbreast in the 6 to 8-inch size range and and an occasional rooster (greater than 8 inches). Anglers should also expect to catch many 6 to 8-inch bluegill and 8 to 10 inch coppernose bluegill.
Technique For redbreast: Crickets and worms fished under bobbers or on the bottom with split-shot weights works best. Try switching to artificial lures such as small beetle spins and rooster-tail spinners when water temperatures rise into the 70s (F). Also attempt fly-fishing as the water warms. Stick to crickets and worms for other bream species.
Target For redbreast: Concentrate fishing efforts around woody cover in the mainstem of the river. For bluegill: Target oxbow lakes and beaver ponds off the main river channel; particularly oxbow lakes in the lower section of the river around the Burnt Fort area.
Crappie
Prospect Crappie are present throughout the river. Try fishing for crappie when conditions are too cold for targeting bream and bass.
Technique Live minnows and small artificial jigs are recommended.
Target Try fishing woody cover in slack-water away from the main channel.
Additional Information
Refer to the USGS gauges located at Waycross, GA and Atkinson, GA when planning your fishing trips. Fishing conditions are best when the USGS gauge reads between 4-8 feet at Waycross and 3-7 feet at Atkinson. USGS gauge information can be found at: 

Waycross, GA: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?02226500 

Atkinson, GA: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?02228000 
 
Best Fishing Times Key
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Savannah River (downstream of New Savannah Bluff Lock & Dam)

Flows in the Savannah River below Savannah Bluff Lock & Dam are heavily influenced by releases from Clarks Hill (Strom Thurmond) Dam. Fishing is usually best when river levels drop within 5-6 feet on the USGS flow gauge at Clyo. Check local forecasts for river stage information. Many anglers find that numerous oxbow lakes along the river provide excellent fishing opportunities.

Prospects and Fishing Tips

Best Bets
LARGEMOUTH BASS, STRIPED BASS, BLUEGILL, REDEAR SUNFISH & CATFISH
Largemouth bass
Prospect The largemouth bass population continues to be healthy in this system. The river has fully recovered from drought conditions and river levels have been very conducive to good largemouth growth and reproduction over the last two years. Fishing should be good this spring as water temperatures rise. Look for bites to improve in February as fish prepare to spawn.
Technique Artificial lures (plastic worms, etc.) are productive around creek mouths. Oxbows are also excellent areas when flooded.
Target Large numbers of fish can be found in the upper estuary during the fall and around structure in slower moving waters throughout the river system for the majority of the year.
Striped Bass
Prospect Since 2005, stripers greater than 27 inches have been open to harvest (daily limit: 2). The number of striped bass and the number of legal-size fish have rebounded thanks to the stocking program that began in the 90s. Twenty pounders are common, and the occasional 40 to 50-pound fish is reported.
Technique Live bait, particularly blueback herring, are highly productive when fished in a free-lined fashion. Artificial baits, including bucktails, topwaters and large jigs, are also very effective when fished around structure (i.e. bridge pilings, submerged trees, water diverters, etc.).
Target Striped bass seasonally migrate upstream and downstream. Fish tend to be concentrated in areas slightly below the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam from April through June. These fish also become concentrated in estuarine areas near Savannah from November through March.
Catfish
Prospect Fishing for catfish is excellent in the Savannah. Large numbers of white and channel catfish are present. Flathead catfish are also now present in the Savannah. Flathead numbers are relatively low when compared to the other species but the population appears to be growing and expanding to nearly all areas of the river. If flathead catfish are captured, please harvest them as this is considered an invasive species in this system.
Technique Typical catfish bait (worms, cut-bait, etc.) fished near the bottom of the river in relatively deep holes will produce good results. Target deep swift-flowing water along the last third of an outside bend. During the day, try fishing outside bends. At night, fish shallow bars and flats where bait fish congregate.
Target Catfish are well-distributed throughout the river, however larger numbers of white catfish are typically found in the upper estuary (Interstate 95 crossing). The highest capture rates for flathead catfish have been in areas of the river near Yuchi Wildlife Management Area.
Bream
Prospect Bluegill and redear sunfish are abundant. Redbreast and other sunfish also are present, but not as plentiful.
Technique Crickets and worms fished under a bobber are effective live bait techniques. For artificial lures, consider small beetle spins, rooster tails and popping bugs.
Target Bluegill are plentiful in backwaters and slower moving sections of the main channel and redear sunfish are often found over submerged sandbars.
Best Fishing Times Key
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St. Marys River

The St. Marys River is a remote black water stream that originates in the Okefenokee Swamp and meanders for 130 miles until reaching the Atlantic Ocean at the southern end of Cumberland Island. With little development and few river crossings, the St. Marys River offers wilderness experience to those who travel its waters.

Prospects and Fishing Tips

Best Bets
REDBREAST SUNFISH, BLUEGILL, AND WHITE CATFISH
Catfish
Prospect Catfish fishing should remain good this year. The river supports a very healthy population of white catfish, followed by channel catfish, as well as yellow and brown bullheads.
Technique Use worms, chicken livers, cut bait or your own secret bait fished on the bottom.
Target Fish the deeper holes, which are usually located on outside bends in the river.
Bream
Prospect Anglers should find good numbers of bream this year with the chance of catching a 6-inch redbreast sunfish being excellent, and an 8-10 inch fish, not out of the question. The river also supports a very healthy bluegill population, with fish weighing 1-pound or greater potentially being landed. Although not as numerous, good sized redear sunfish, aka "shellcrackers," and warmouth can be caught while bream fishing in the St. Marys.
Technique For redbreast sunfish and warmouth: Crickets and worms are a given. Small lures, such as beetle-spins, work well when the water warms. For bluegill and redear sunfish,crickets and worms around pilings, and cover in the creeks and oxbows of the lower river are the best bets. Also, a lesser known South Georgia secret is the "catalpa worm," which can be lethal for larger sunfish species when fished on the bottom.
Target Try launching a canoe or small jon boat at St. George Landing and floating downstream approximately 30 miles to Traders Hill for excellent redbreast fishing. For bluegill: Target the lower half of St. Marys, from Traders Hill Recreational Area downstream.
Other Species
Prospect Though bass are not as plentiful as in other rivers, anglers can land a wall-hanger in the 8 to 10 pound range.
Technique Try casting spinnerbaits and pitching jigs or worms around heavy cover in current breaks or backwater slough areas.
Target Target the Kings Ferry area of the lower river.
Additional Information
Fishing conditions are best when the USGS gage at MacClenny, FL reads between 3-8 feet. USGS river gage information can be found at: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?02231000 
 
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Suwannee River

The Suwannee River flows from the Okefenokee Swamp to the Gulf of Mexico. The 33-mile portion of the Suwannee in Georgia contains dark tea stained water and provides a unique fishing experience. Anglers will not find many redbreast sunfish, bluegill or bass, as commonly found in other south Georgia rivers, however, there are other fish to catch, including warmouth, flier, chain pickerel and bullhead catfish.

Prospects and Fishing Tips

Best Bets
CHAIN PICKEREL, WARMOUTH, FLIER & BULLHEADS
Catfish
Prospect Bullhead fishing should be fair to good this year.
Technique Use worms, chicken livers, dead shrimp and crickets.
Target Target the bottom, in deep water and along the bank edges.
Pickerel
Prospect Chain pickerel numbers will likely be lower this year due to last year's drought conditions.
Technique Shallow-running crankbaits like the Rapala Minnow or Rooster Tail are particularly effective.
Target Fish slack water areas, such as the mouths of oxbow lakes with vegetative cover for higher success.
Other Species
Prospect Fliers and warmouth fishing will likely not be as good as last year due to the drought conditions that persisted most of last year.
Technique For fliers, a favorite artificial bait is the "yellow sallie." The best bait for warmouth is live crawfish.
Target Warmouth are distributed throughout the river with a slight increase in number as you travel downstream to Fargo. Target flier year-round in the upper reaches of the river near the Okefenokee Swamp; concentrate efforts in sloughs and backwater areas.
Additional Information
Refer to the USGS gage located at Fargo, GA when planning your fishing trip. Optimal water levels for fishing are between 3-6 feet of gage height. USGS gauge information can be found at: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?02314500 
 
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Toccoa River (below Blue Ridge Dam)

Flowing from beneath Blue Ridge Dam in Fannin County lies the cold, clear water of the lower Toccoa River. This 15-mile river stretch has earned a reputation among anglers as one of the best trout rivers in north Georgia. Due to its relatively large size, it is a favored water for fly-fishing enthusiasts. Fish the Toccoa with caution, as water levels can rise quickly during the times water is released from Blue Ridge Dam.

Prospects and Fishing Tips

Best Bets
RAINBOW & BROWN TROUT
Trout
Prospect The Toccoa River below Blue Ridge Dam remains a favorite destination for many trout anglers because of its high catch rates and its ability to produce trophy-sized fish. Rainbow trout tend to be the most abundant species in a typical year, but recent sampling has shown an increase in the proportion of brown trout in the river. As such, anglers should not be surprised to reel in a few more brown trout this year than in past years. Anglers may also encounter the occasional brook trout while fishing the Toccoa, but they are generally stocked in fewer numbers than the other two species, and thus are less abundant. The majority of trout caught will be in the 10-14 inch range, but don't be surprised to catch a few of the larger rainbows or browns for which the Toccoa is known. Some true monsters lurk in the depths of the Toccoa. WRD sampling efforts over the last three years have produced several large brown trout in the range of 9-14 pounds.  
Technique Trout anglers have the choice of using artificial lures, live bait, or flies throughout the river and any of these can be quite successful. Bait fishing can be productive with nightcrawlers, corn, or powerbait being the most popular choices. Fishing with live minnows is prohibited on any trout stream such as the Toccoa, but artificial imitations like Rapalas, Mepps or Roostertail spinners, or spoons can be deadly. Substantial caddis, mayfly, and midge hatches can occur throughout the season, so fly anglers should be prepared to "match the hatch" when fish are rising. Nymphs, wet flies and streamers also have their place, especially in winter. Visit the local fly shops or search popular internet message boards like North Georgia Trout Online (NGTO) for the current fishing reports and tips on "what's hot" at the moment.
Target Good trout habitat stretches from Blue Ridge Dam downstream to Horseshoe Bend Park in McCaysville. Trout can be found almost anywhere from one bank to the other, but are most likely to stay close to some type of cover. Target deep holes, fast runs, undercut banks, or woody debris to better your chances for success. Wade fishermen typically target one of the four public access points in this section, including the TVA access points at Blue Ridge Dam and Curtis Switch, along with Tammen and Horseshoe Bend Parks. From Horseshoe Bend downstream to the TN state line the current slows and the habitat becomes less ideal for trout. Given the popularity of the Toccoa, access points are sometimes a bit crowded on weekends or holidays. Those looking for a more solitary fishing experience may choose to float the river between access points. Use caution when wading or floating, as water can rise rapidly and without warning.
Other Species
Prospect The Toccoa is home to a few smallmouth, largemouth and spotted bass, as well as rock bass, yellow perch and bream. Catch rates for these species are generally low and most catches are incidental, although yellow perch have become more common over the last few years. Anglers are encouraged to harvest their limit of spotted bass, as they have the potential to threaten the river's remnant smallmouth fishery.
Technique For bass, crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and soft plastics are hard to beat. Crayfish imitations are sure to entice a strike from a hungry smallmouth. Fly anglers may also hook a bass or two when targeting trout with large streamers, such as clouser minnows. Try using small in-line spinners, worms or crickets for bream and for yellow perch.
Target Look to the lower river reaches near McCaysville, where the water is a bit warmer and currents are slower. Anglers might also try fishing just below the dam, as DNR personnel have noticed more bass and other warmwater species here at times.
Additional Information
The vast majority of the lower Toccoa River flows through private property. There are only 5 public access points over the entire 15-mile tailwater. Always respect the private property rights of local landowners. 

Increased flows at Blue Ridge Dam can rapidly create treacherous water conditions in the Toccoa tailwater. Anglers should check the Tennessee Valley Authority's generation schedule before heading to the water and keep an eye on river flows throughout their fishing trip. If fishing near Blue Ridge Dam, pay attention to the new warning siren that was installed in 2012. To hear the latest generation schedule call 1-800-238-2264 or visit: http://www.tva.gov/river/lakeinfo/index.htm 
 
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