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    The Yellow River gets it's start in Gwinnett County, runs through the eastern tip of Dekalb and through Rockdale and Newton Counties on its way to Lake Jackson. Like the South and Chattahoochee Rivers, the Yellow winds through some heavily populated areas, yet shows far less wear and tear than other urban rivers. Portions of the Yellow contain a good bit of trash and sometimes a faint smell of chlorine taints the air, but overall, the Yellow is a fine stream for most species of fish and an entertaining place to paddle. 

This chunky Yellow River largemouth and a few carbon copies fell prey to a spinnerbait on a late-June float.

    Largemouth are the primary bass species, but spotted bass (illegally introduced to L. Jackson in the 1990's) are slowly discovering the Yellow and can appear as far upstream as the dam below GA 81 at Porterdale. The dam, by the way, requires a pretty tough portage around the right, across someone's property, and to the base of the shoals, which are Class II when there's enough water to run them. The best idea is to make GA 81 the end of your trip rather than the beginning. Another dam exists just downstream of GA 20 in Milstead. It may be possible, but there is no safe way to portage this dam. It is possible to access the river below the dam off Yarbrough Rd. but this is a lot of work and the neighborhood here is rather rough. On the bright side, the two dams provide great fishing opportunities on the upstream sides, and current is usually minimal.

What the...? This nice yellow perch didn't want the bass to eat all the spinnerbaits, so he ate one too! Hmmm...wonder how the ice-fishing is on the Yellow?

    The Yellow provides good fishing for crappie, hybrid and white bass in the spring from Lake Jackson all the way up to Porterdale. The whites and hybrids don't seem to stack up in the thousands like they do in some other rivers this time of year, but the action is usually steady. Bream (mostly redbreast and bluegill) and catfish populations are excellent on the Yellow, and if you catch a species of fish you've never seen before, it may just be a yellow perch (see picture). I was unaware that yellow perch existed this far south, but apparently I was wrong!

    The Yellow is generally runnable downstream from the Conyers area, and there are lots of launch points ranging from very easy to darn near impossible. Make sure you do your homework before floating the Yellow and try not to have a dam in the middle of your float trip. Other than a few logjams, the dams are the only real obstacles on the Yellow. The only serious rapids lie just below the dams, and these aren't too bad unless the river is really high. Most any type of river craft will work on the Yellow, including small motorized boats. Despite it's name, the Yellow usually runs green and fairly clear, although it does get yellow after heavy rains. The Yellow stays rather intimate through most of it's course, only exceeding 60 or so feet in width near Lake Jackson and upstream of the dams.

    The Yellow is living proof that great rivers can coexist with lots of people. The fishing is pretty darn good and the Yellow is convenient for a large number of people. One indicator of the Yellow's health is the presence of redeye bass in some upper sections of the river. I was surprised and heartened to catch a few while researching the Yellow and hope that there are a few redeyes left in the South River, too. The Yellow has proven to be a fun river to explore and a very pleasant surprise where the fishing is concerned!

Editor's Note: Be careful when floating the Yellow upstream from Yellow River Park in Gwinnett County. There are some Class III rapids between Highway 78 and the park.


This picture was taken below the dam at Milstead downstream of GA 20. If you reach this spot on a float trip, you are either dead or your hospital room has a computer in it. There's no good way around this dam! 


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