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Alcovy

Apalachee

Chattahoochee (Upper)

Chattahoochee (Middle)

Chestatee

Coosawattee

Etowah (Upper)

Etowah (Lower)

Flint (Upper)

Ocmulgee (Upper)

Oconee (Upper)

Oostanaula

South

Tallapoosa

Towaliga

Yellow

 

Lower Etowah (downstream of L. Allatoona)

    Stripers! In Georgia, the striped bass is the premier big game species. No other game fish in the state can match the striper's combination of size and fighting ability (with the possible exception of South Georgia flathead catfish). If  you'd like to tangle with one of these bad boys, the lower Etowah is perhaps the premier destination in the state to try your luck.

The hotter, the better! Striped bass spend the dog days of summer in the cool waters of the Etowah before heading back downstream in the early fall.

    The lower Etowah is almost a completely different river from the small and scenic upper river. The lower Etowah is a tailwater fishery, and the water temperature during the summertime is anywhere from 8 to 15 degrees cooler than surrounding waters. The lower Etowah is also much wider and normally a bit murkier than the upper river. There are no significant rapids, making this portion of the Etowah suitable for jon boats as well as canoes. Many of the access points are spaced widely apart, making small motorized craft a convenience.

    Before we get to the fishing, anglers should be aware of a couple hazards inherent to the lower Etowah. About 3.5 miles downstream of the Allatoona dam is a low-head dam that drops about 10 or 15 feet. Don't plan a float trip with the idea of going over or around this obstacle. One option is impossible and the other illegal (and darn near impossible!) The other thing to look out for is the power generation schedule. Like the lower Chattahoochee, the Etowah rises quickly when power is generated, and transforms from a rather lazy river to a downright dangerous one. Lives are lost on this river every few years. Generally speaking, power generation occurs only on weekdays, but it would be prudent to make sure before your trip  by calling (404) 382-0549.

    Stripers rule the Etowah river. Most experts agree that the striper population in the Etowah is largely transient. Stripers were stocked in Lake Weiss about ten years ago and surprised biologists by naturally reproducing in the Coosa river system. Many migrate from Lake Weiss during the spring spawning run (along with whites and hybrids), head back downstream after spawning, and return to the artificially-cooled Etowah to spend the heat of the summer. The summer months are the best time to consistently catch stripers in the Etowah. Stripers can be caught on large jerkbaits, bucktails, or leadhead jigs with soft plastic bodies. Subsurface lures should be fished slowly and steadily. The most successful striper fishermen catch live shad and fish them under corks or on the bottom. Liver and cut bait are effective and less troublesome alternatives. The average Etowah striper will weigh between 4 and 6 pounds, but GRF has witnessed two stripers over 20 pounds. Be prepared!

While generally not the best river to wade or catch largemouth bass, this angler hopped out of the boat and did both during a May float.

    Of the black bass species, spotted bass predominate, although largemouth and redeye bass are present in the Etowah also. Most fishermen on the Etowah focus on stripers, and the bass fishing is surprisingly good, with larger than average bass. Panfish populations have suffered a bit from the recent striper explosion. GRF has no reports of any decent bream or crappie fishing on the lower Etowah. Catfish populations are pretty good in the river, with three species to choose from (channel, blue, and flathead). Bait fisherman almost always come away with a mixed bag of cats and stripers.

    For most anglers, the primary attraction of the lower Etowah is the striped bass. During the summer, the river is loaded with them. That said, stripers can be notoriously finicky about when and what they will eat. Heavy baitcasting gear is recommended with at least 17 pound test line. This log-strewn river is no place for light tackle. Stripers are difficult enough with heavy gear. 

    While the lower Etowah sees it's share of fishermen, it is far less crowded on the weekend than big impoundments are during the week. It is extremely common to fish a stretch of the Etowah and only encounter a couple other anglers. Which is a big reason we like rivers in the first place!

One interesting sight on the Etowah and other north Georgia rivers are fish weirs. These v-shaped artifacts were used by Native American cultures as fish traps. Tribespeople would simply herd fish downstream into a net placed at the point of the weir.  

 
       

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