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 ellicit 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. |
The typical fish will be 5-8 pounds, but average weight may be boosted by a strong year class of mid-sized stripers that should grow into the 10-pound range in 2016. 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. |
|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. |
|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). |
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, more than 190,000 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. 706-624-1161) 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: Good: Fair: |