The 1st Georgia Bass Slam of 2018 has been hit! You may not be the first of 2018, but the good news is you’ve still got plenty of time. This week we’ll focus on the elusive Altamaha bass with the help of nongame conservation assistant chief, Matt Elliott.
How Big Do They Get?
- Between 5–16 inches long
Where You Can Find Them
This little bass is found above the fall line in streams that the Ocmulgee, Oconee, and Ogeechee river basins flow into.Try targeting them in the Yellow, Alcovy, Towaliga, any forks of the Oconee River and in the mainstem Oconee River down to Milledgeville.
Public Access Points
There are some excellent spots for Altamaha bass in both the Little River and Murder Creek, in the Oconee National Forest. Kayaking is possible in the Little River, but to fish Murder Creek your best bet is wade in or bank fish. The North Oconee River just below Athens at Whitehall Road is another place to wet a line while trying to nab an Altamaha. There’s some hybridization with non-native spotted bass going on here, though. You can find public parking on Athens-Clarke County property on the northeast side of the road or you can walk up a trail along the east side of the river on public land.
How to Fish Them
Like the Chattahoochee Bass, Altamaha’s can be found in a and about shoal complexes. Just cast the lures into any little eddy or pool, especially in rocky shoal areas, and retrieve.
Lures You Should Use
They will absolutely nail spinners of about 1/8 oz in size, Panther Martins or Rooster Tails. Small topwater lures also work great, as do smaller plastic worms fished without a weight. “If I’m catching a lot of small bass like Altamaha bass, I like to clip off 2 of the treble hooks and crimp down the barb so they can be released more easily. They have a tendency to inhale the spinners,” says Matt Elliott.
Recommendations from Matt Elliott
“The best Altamaha bass stream I know of is the Apalachee River, between North High Shoals and the big shoals that begin about a half mile below US 441. There is no public access at North High Shoals or US 441, so it’s important to pay attention to any “No Trespassing” signs. Be cautious of the big shoal – it is a SOLID class 3+ rapid with an 8 foot drop at the end. Best not to run it unless you’re the sort of person that runs rapids like that. Note that there is no road access to the river below Hwy 441. About a mile below the big shoals the river divides into multiple small channels with lots of downed trees in a vast swamp. It is perhaps the wildest country in the Georgia Piedmont but not very conducive to kayak fishing. Low water is best, and they seem to be really sensitive to cold, pretty much totally shutting down in winter. I would recommend a summer trip.”
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