Logo graphic for the WildLife Resources Division
Facebook Icon Twitter Icon Instagram Icon YouTube Icon WordPress Icon Email Icon
Georgia River Fishing Information
Upper Ocmulgee River

The Ocmulgee River begins at Lake Jackson, the junction of the Yellow, South,and Alcovy rivers.  From Lloyd Shoals Dam at Lake Jackson, the river flows southeast through Piedmont shoals for 36 miles before crossing the Fall Line just above Macon. Below Macon, the character of the river changes dramatically as the floodplain widens to produce the shifting channel meandering characteristic of the upper Coastal Plain.  The Ocmulgee River from Lloyd Shoals Dam to Hawkinsville is split by the Fall Line and provides two distinctly different fishing opportunities.  Anglers in central Georgia have the unique opportunity to experience each within a short drive from Macon, Warner Robins or Perry.

Guide to Fishing and Floating the Upper Ocmulgee River in PDF (1.73 MB).  This document contains access and fishing tip information a color map with river-mile designations.

Prospects and Fishing Tips
Best Bets
Largemouth bass
Prospect New Regulation: largemouth bass 12-inch minimum length limit. The predominate black bass species below Macon is largemouth bass, with good numbers presently in the 12 - 15 inch range. Largemouth bass fishing is predicted to be good for the next 2 - 3 years due to an abundance of smaller bass in the 8 - 12 inch category. A quality largemouth fishery is also found above Macon, but these fish average slightly smaller.
Technique Expect good catches with the right techniques. Fool largemouth with a lightly weighted plastic worm or lizard cast close to the snags. Spinner baits, medium rapala-type crankbaits, plastic jerk baits and topwater plugs also are effective. The key for largemouth is getting the lure deep into the cover.
Target Target the calmer waters along the banks around snags in the area of the river below Macon. Above Macon try the area between Lloyd Shoals Dam and Hwy 16. Any of the flatwater sections between the numerous shoals can also be productive. New this year is a 12-inch minimum length limit for largemouth bass from the Ocmulgee River (Macon's Spring Street bridge crossing to confluence with the Oconee River).
Shoal Bass
Prospect Shoal bass were stocked in the upper Ocmulgee River during the 1970s where they are now as abundant as the native Flint River population. Most shoal bass caught in the upper Ocmulgee will be 12 - 16 inches and the occasional 20 - 22 inch lunker is also available. The present abundance of shoal bass in the 11 - 13 inch class predicts good fishing for the next several years. The best fishing is in May - June and again in the fall.
Technique Small to medium swimming minnow lures, spinner baits, poppers and artificial worms are preferred. For fly-fishing, bring along plenty of woolly buggers and medium poppers. Wade fishing shoals may be the most productive method but drift fishing from canoe or kayak is also effective.
Target As a first choice, target the area of alternating shoals and flat water reaches between Highway 16 and Wise Creek. This area may provide one of the best angling experiences in the state, but any stretch of river with shoals from Lake Jackson to Macon will contain shoal bass.
Spotted bass
Prospect Spotted bass stocked into Lake Jackson by anglers in the 1990s are now found in the upper Ocmulgee from Lake Jackson to the Warner Robins area. Expect the average spot to be slightly smaller than shoal bass, with the largest segment of the population between 6 - 10 inches. Fair numbers in the 12 - 14 inch range are also present, with the occasional spot reaching 20 inches.
Technique Techniques used for shoal bass and largemouth bass are also effective for spotted bass.
Target Target areas near Lloyd Shoals Dam with moderate current. Also look to the area of alternating shoals and flat water reaches between Highway 16 and Wise Creek, and in the Highway 83 area. Spotted bass are probably more aggressive than other black bass species and are found in a wider range of habitats than largemouth bass or shoal bass.
Striped Bass
Prospect Stripers were first stocked in Lake Jackson in 2005, adding to the hybrid bass population found in the Lloyd Shoals Dam tailrace fishery. Hybrid stockings were eliminated during 2007 - 2012 and the numbers found below Lake Jackson declined as well. Significant numbers of hybrids were again stocked in 2013 and this policy should continue in future years. Hybrids escaping from Lake Jackson into the upper Ocmulgee River should average 12 - 14 inches the first year and will eventually reach 6 - 8 lb. Stripers that escape from Lake Jackson should average 4 - 5 lb. and could reach the 30 lb. class. Additional sources of striped bass are escapees from Lake Juliette where they have been stocked for 10-plus years and from more recent stockings in the lower Altamaha associated with a basin-wide restoration project. These stockings add to the traditional spring striped bass fishery below the Juliette Dam and the recent hybrid stockings will add variety to the mix.
Technique Larger jigs cast into swift current or live shad fished in deeper areas near dams are usually most productive.
Target The most productive areas are the quarter mile reach below the Juliette Dam and just below the weir in the Lloyd Shoals Dam tailrace. Early spring is always the prime season for striper fishing.
Prospect Channel catfish are abundant throughout the river and flathead catfish introduced into the upper Ocmulgee in the 1970s have spread throughout most of the Altamaha Basin. Recent sampling indicates the presence of flathead catfish above Juliette Dam, and numbers in this area are likely to increase over the next several years. Flatheads are especially abundant in the Coastal Plain section of the river below Macon.
Technique Rod and reel fishing can be effective for channel catfish, but also try trotlines or bushhooks baited with prepared baits, liver, crayfish and a variety of home recipes. The same gear is effective for flatheads, but live baits must be used. The most effective bait is a medium-size redbreast or bluegill.
Target Fish the river below Macon where catfish are most abundant. A 103 lb. flathead catfish was caught in this area several years ago. The more productive areas are deeper holes with structure in meandering sections.
Prospect The upper Ocmulgee River has excellent populations of redbreast sunfish, bluegill, and redear sunfish (shellcracker). Redbreast typically average 5 inches, bluegill 5 - 6 inches and redear sunfish 8 - 9 inches. Sunfish populations have been down recently, probably related to near drought conditions that existed for several years. The recent return of more normal flows should improve growth and reproduction of sunfish populations, resulting in better bream fishing beginning this spring. The exotic longear sunfish has increased in abundance over the last several years and are generally considered a nuisance. These colorful sunfish average just under 4 inches.
Technique For redbreast: Crickets are the traditional bait, but ultra light tackle with small spinners or fly-fishing with small poppers or spider imitations sometimes can be just as productive. Bluegill can be caught using the same techniques used for redbreast. For redear: Try fishing on the bottom using worms, as they rarely take artificial baits.
Target For redbreast: Target areas of swift to moderate current except during the spring spawning season when they bed in large numbers in calmer water. The area of alternating shoals and flat water reaches between Highway 16 and Wise Creek are good bets. Also, expect to find good populations of redbreast near any shoal throughout the lightly fished area between the Juliette Dam and Macon. For bluegill and redear: The half mile reach below Lloyd Shoals Dam provides some of the best fishing in the river. Bluegill and redbreast also are typically abundant below Macon and May through June are the most productive months in this reach. Redear are caught in large numbers only during the spring spawning season when they bed near shore, in calm water.
Other Species
Prospect Fishing for American shad is as popular as bass fishing in some parts of the country, but receives little attention in Georgia. Expect the average shad to measure 20 inches and weigh a little over 2 pounds. Find shad below Juliette Dam from March through May, but the peak is during the April spawn.
Technique The most effective tackle for American shad is a medium weight spinning rod with "shad darts" or similar small jigs, or a 6-8 weight fly rod with small streamers.
Target Target the area from the base of Juliette Dam downstream about one-half mile.
Best Fishing Times Key
Excellent:   image     Good:   image   Fair:   image