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    The Oostanaula River is formed at the confluence of the Conasauga and Coosawattee Rivers near the city of Calhoun in northwest Georgia. This area was once called New Echota, and served as the capital of the Cherokee nation before the Indian Removal Act of 1830 effectively removed the Cherokees from Georgia. The Oostanaula flows roughly fifty miles in a southwesterly direction before meeting up with the Etowah River in downtown Rome, forming the Coosa River. The Oostanaula has great access, with five improved boat ramps located from the lower end of the Coosawattee to the upper end of the Coosa River in Rome.

    The Oostanaula has suffered in the past from environmental difficulties, but has begun turning the corner in terms of habitat and water quality. There are no rapids of any note on the Oostanaula, and it's course is marked by long straight sections and gentle shoals, with sweeping bends every mile or two. At a width of 60 to 80 feet through most of it's course, the Oostanaula is a pretty large river, and though the water is almost uniformly flat, it flows with a surprisingly quick velocity in the upper half, especially during spring and early summer. The section below Georgia 140 tends to flow a bit slower. The Oostanaula muddies up pretty quickly after moderate rains, and fishing is best when the Oostanaula is flowing pretty and green.

    I have fished the Oostanaula River three times, and, frankly, have not had much success. Much of this is undoubtedly due to muddy water conditions and high water. Folks who regularly fish the Oostanaula claim that the bass fishing is pretty good. According to the DNR, the black bass population is only fair, and is dominated by spotted bass, with largemouth bass becoming more prevalent in the slower section below Highway 140. Redeye bass are present also, but appear more in the upper section. The best bass fishing can be found in deep bends, creek mouths (the Oostanaula is blessed with lots of nice feeder streams), and around woody cover. 

    The Oostanaula is better known for it's catfishing, and it boasts channel, blue, and flathead catfish, with blue and channel cats being more common. Deep holes are best for catfish, and those located near shoal areas tend to be more productive than isolated deep holes. While most cats will average about a pound, big specimens of both species are common on the Oostanaula, and are best taken using chicken livers and cut shad fished on bottom. Panfishing on the Oostanaula is rather poor, and bluegills are more common than any other species. 

    Located upstream from Lake Weiss, the Oostanaula gets a great springtime run of white bass some years, though many whites stay in the Coosa River or hang a right up the Etowah. During a March trip a few years ago, I was exploring one of the many feeder creeks on the Oostanaula and made a few casts out toward the creek mouth. What followed was about fifteen minutes of fast white bass action which ended as quickly as it began. Striped bass have been documented to spawn successfully in the Oostanaula, though very few large stripers appear to spend the the summer there like they do in the cooler Etowah, Coosa, and Coosawattee Rivers. If you want to catch whites and stripers, the months of March, April, and may are the best time to go about it.

    The Oostanaula is absolutely loaded with huge carp and drum. I've never targeted either of these species, but during clear water periods, one can see these fish all over the place. I have no idea how to go about fishing for these species, but both are known as great fighters, and anglers who simply want a good fight might consider targeting these species.

    There is a new species of fish now swimming the waters of the Oostanaula and other rivers in the Coosa basin: lake sturgeon. These prehistoric (but harmless) monsters are native to the Coosa basin, and began disappearing in the 1960's due to habitat degradation and overfishing. The DNR began an annual stocking program of lake sturgeon in 2002, and since these fish take 12-15 years to mature, any lake sturgeon caught in the Oostanaula must be returned to the river unharmed. If one happens to swallow the hook, simply cut the line and release the fish. If you happen to encounter a lake sturgeon, be sure to contact your local DNR office with information on the section of the river in which it was caught. This information will help DNR better assess the success of the program.


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