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Tallapoosa River

    The Tallapoosa is a medium-sized river about fifty miles west of Atlanta and convenient to I-20. The Tallapoosa originates in Carroll County and travels through both Paulding and Haralson Counties before entering Alabama, where it enters Lake Wedowee (also called Lake Harris) about 20-25 miles downstream. The upper reaches of the Tallapoosa are small, and frequent logjams and seasonal low water make the section upstream of GA 27/1 (between Buchanan and Cedartown) less than ideal for float fishing. There is a lot of water upstream of GA 27/1, and numerous bridge crossings make for excellent bank or wade-fishing access.

    So what swims in the Tallapoosa? The Tallapoosa offers a flavor to please just about any type of bass fisherman. Spotted bass are the predominant species, with good numbers of redeye bass in the upstream sections and lots of largemouth bass downstream of GA 27/1. The Tallapoosa contains lots of rocky and wood structure, and the current can range from brisk to extremely slow. The redeye and spotted bass prefer swifter water while the largemouths like slacker current. Don't get too set in your thinking, however. I have caught Tallapoosa largemouths in shoals, redeyes in still water, and spots everywhere in between. Georgia River Fishing recommends fishing lures sized for spotted bass (4-inch worms, 1/8-1/4 ounce spinnerbaits, etc.) rather than largemouths since there are more spots than other species on the Tallapoosa. Sometimes spots and redeyes shy away from the larger stuff. Small plastic worms, grubs, suspending jerkbaits, spinnerbaits, and topwaters all work well on the Tallapoosa.

While spotted bass like the one pictured here occur frequently, there are almost as many largemouth and redeye bass on the Tallapoosa. Be ready for anything!

    Another option for Tallapoosa fishermen is to use small spinners or crawfish-imitating crankbaits. From late spring through summer, the bluegill, redbreast, and even rock bass (small grubs are best for rock bass) will assault anything that comes near them. Though the average size is nothing special, it doesn't usually take very long to catch dinner, and bass love these little lures too! Channel and flathead catfish both inhabit the Tallapoosa, and I've encountered more than a few limb-lines shaking near deeper holes. The most recent fish sampling occurred in the early 1990's and turned up no white or striped bass, but the sampling did not take place during the spring, when these fish would most likely be running out of Lake Wedowee to spawn. 

    The Tallapoosa River is somewhat of a hybrid- a cross between the rocky streams of the mountains and the woodier, slower streams of the Piedmont. One minute you will be looking at high rock walls while casting at boulders, and the next minute you'll be pitching worms at logjams in water with almost no current. There is almost no development along the Tallapoosa and no hazards other than the occasional downed tree and some water too shallow to float during droughts. I've never encountered another fisherman on the river but have spotted trotlines and corks in trees now and then. The river is wide enough to float easily, but narrow enough to cast both banks from midstream. There are plenty of access points available, though a few are really difficult.

    Whether wading in the upper reaches or floating (canoes or jon boats are fine) the lower section, the Tallapoosa offers a variety of fish to pursue. The water is clean, cool (they used to stock trout way upstream!), and remote. The Tallapoosa is also the site of one of the more famous battles between Eastern Indians (the Creeks) and early settlers (including Corporal Andrew Jackson) at Horseshoe Bend in 1814. The memorial lies near Alexander City, Alabama, but some locals insist the battle took place near Tallapoosa, Georgia. The Tallapoosa has become considerably less exciting since 1814, but probably looks pretty much the same. Georgia River Fishing is glad to report that the battle didn't hurt the fishing any!


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