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. |
|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. |
|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 on our website at: http://www.georgiawildlife.org/node/705 .
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.
|Best Fishing Times Key |
|Excellent: Good: Fair: |