With trout streams in North Georgia, lake and river fishing across the entire state and saltwater fishing on the coast, Georgia offers some of the most diverse fishing opportunities in the country. We recently asked Georgia DNR staff to give us their top reasons of why they would recommend fishing in Georgia to an out of state visitor. We got some great answers. Check out their reasons below and see why you should be fishing Georgia! Add your own reasons to fish Georgia too!
- Georgia is still home (tied with Japan) of the world record largemouth bass (22 lbs 4 ozs), which was caught at Montgomery Lake on the Ocmulgee River in 1932!
- Georgia has produced plenty of monster largemouth bass over the past century. It takes a 14-pound fish to even make the top 50 biggest largemouth caught in our state!
- Nowhere else in the world can you catch 6 of the 7 species of black bass! We have the most! This includes the largemouth, redeye, shoal, smallmouth, spotted, and Suwannee bass. The only species we are lacking is the Guadalupe bass, which are only found in Texas.
- We have gigantic catfish. We have documented flathead catfish in the Altamaha drainage (Ocmulgee River) that have exceeded 100 pounds! Our state rod and reel record of 83 pounds has been replicated and currently 2 anglers share that platform.
- Georgia’s WRD fisheries management section has consistently provided anglers the opportunity to catch a bass of a lifetime. Ocmulgee PFA is the latest public fishing area in Georgia where anglers can catch really large trophy bass exceeding 13 pounds! Others have included Dodge County PFA, which produced 3 fish on the top 50 list (see point 2)!
- For the fly fisherman; We have an excellent coldwater fishery flowing right through Atlanta! The Chattahoochee River is home to an 18-pound 6-ounce fish caught by Charles Ford in 2001!
- Did I mention our striped bass fishery? Our current state record of 63 lbs is co-held by 2 anglers as well!
- The Go Fish Education Center is a unique place consisting of a state of the art hatchery where visitors can see each of the unique regions of fish demonstrated in the large fish tanks!
-Tim Bonvechio, Fisheries Biologist II
Georgia contains the last stretch of water on the east coast with low boat traffic and fantastic fishing. It is possible to fish Georgia’s coastal waters all day and not see another boat!
Our coastal river striped bass fisheries are uncovered treasure.
-Tim Barrett, Fisheries Supervisor – Southwest Georgia
- Awesome locations. There are fishing opportunities across the entire state, from the mountains of North Georgia, to the Okefenokee Swamp in South Georgia, to the tidal creeks, bays and estuaries of the Atlantic.
- Variety of fish species. Georgia has just about anything a person would want to fish for. Cold water species like trout, cool water species including stripers and walleye, warm water species such as largemouth bass, bluegill, and catfish, and saltwater species like sea trout, redfish, tarpon and sharks can all be found in Georgia’s waters.
- Home of 7 world record fish, including the current world record chain pickerel (9 pounds 6 ounces) caught in Homerville, GA in 1961, the current World Record Flier (1 pound 4 ounces) caught in a Lowndes County pond in 1966, and of course, the world record largemouth bass (22 pounds 4 ounces – tie) caught in Montgomery Lake in 1932.
- Family friendly opportunities. Public fishing areas (PFAs) make family outings easy and accessible to everyone. Kids fishing events offer great catch rates for new anglers.
- Great place to fish socially with buddies. Trips for bass, stripers and catfish can make for fun slightly competitive trips for buddies looking for getaways.
- Catching fish can be easy. PFAs have easy access to bream and catfish species .
- Catching fish can be a challenge. Mountain brook trout require miles of hiking in rough terrain to get to.
- Solitude. It is easy to get away from the crowds either hiking in the mountains for trout or paddling a kayak for tailing redfish.
- Accessible to everyone. No matter where a person is in the state, or how able-bodied he or she is, there is always a place within a short drive to fish. Piers and PFAs can be found throughout the state.
-Edward Zmarzly, Fisheries Technician III
Advantages to fishing in Georgia: We have six very different ecoregions and 100 miles of Atlantic shoreline which provide a wide variety of freshwater and saltwater game-fish species in addition to a range of beautiful settings. This range of habitats makes Georgia a biodiversity hotspot for many types of flora and fauna including fishes, amphibians, and birds and makes for a truly wild angling experience. We also have a well-represented sportsman demographic which allows for exemplary fisheries management practices, well-maintained fishing access points, a plethora of information for fishermen such as online reports, and a camaraderie between sportsmen that is truly unique.
Best kept secret: The thousands of miles of headwaters to our rivers that are more spared from boat traffic, anthropogenic modification, and heavy use than tailwaters and reservoirs.
Claims to fame: 7 world record fish
Undisputable facts: We have over 15 species of bass (6 of the 7 species of black bass).
Underappreciated point: Except for the Chattooga, all of our rivers begin in our state. Georgia is a headwaters fisherman’s heaven!
–Matt Hill, Fisheries
There is no other state with the variety of fishing opportunities that Georgia has. It’s no contest when you look at the list of places to go and various types of fishing available. Native and stocked trout can both be fished in the North Georgia mountains. Spotted bass, stripers, hybrid bass, largemouth bass, catfish, crappie, and sunfish are available from the two large North Georgia impoundments to the Central Georgia impoundments, to Lake Eufaula in South Georgia. I’ve caught big striped bass while standing the shoals of the Chattahoochee, and caught big slabs of crappie on West Point, Lake Oconee and Lake Sinclair. Few states can boast the river fishing opportunities Georgia offers like the Chattahoochee, Flint, Oconee, Ocmulgee and the Savannah Rivers.
The possibility of catching a world record fish is not far from anyone in Georgia. From standing on the bank of a creek with a cane pole to salt water fishing from a boat off the Georgia coast, there is no comparison to fishing in Georgia.
-Sgt. Bill Goodson, Law Enforcement
Shoal bass (Micropterus cataractae) is a fish species native to the Apalachicola drainage and occur naturally throughout the Chattahoochee and Flint River systems in Georgia. Additionally, Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GA DNR) stocked the species into the Ocmulgee River, a tributary of the Altamaha River, in the mid 1970s. In Georgia, significant fisheries have developed for shoal bass on the Flint, Ocmulgee,and upper Chattahoochee Rivers. In terms of abundance and size structure, there is little doubt that Georgia has the highest quality shoal bass fisheries in the world.
–Steve L. Schleiger, Fisheries Supervisor – Central Georgia
Georgia has the best of everything when it comes to fishing. I have fished in many states, but Georgia has it all. Whether you are standing on the front of a small skiff casting for sea trout over a submerged oyster bed, or reeling in a nice brook trout caught in a north Georgia stream near Helen Georgia, for fishing pleasure and excitement nowhere else will compare. If you’re up to the challenge of fighting a big fish that doesn’t give up, then winter fishing for stripers on Clarks Hill Reservoir cannot be beat. Though little in comparison to size, but big when it comes to fight, the double hand-sized shell cracker caught at one of nine Public Fishing Areas is the best. When those feisty fellows attack the red wiggler tied to a limber bream buster pole, you’ll forget your worries and only think about getting that pound and a half, full of spunk, and good eating fish in the boat. Clean water, beautiful scenery, and friendly people will make any Georgia fishing trip the best fishing story that will be told again and again.
–Charles West, Fisheries
Two best reasons: 2nd best… we have almost all types of fisheries in Georgia, as well as varied methods for any angler (spinning reel, fly rod, jug fishing, trot line, noodling, cast net, shad net, beach seine and bow fishing). Also, the variety of fish (cold water like mountain trout; warm water bass, bluegill, catfish, etc.) and excellent coastal fishing as well, with over 1/3 of the east coast’s undeveloped marshes in our 100 linear miles of coast line. A fishing license and trout stamp go along way in the peach state.
Best reason… smiles like my son has in this photo.
–Maj. Stephen Adams, Law Enforcement
One thing that comes to mind right away is “Our high diversity of sporty Centrarchids”. We have diversity of bass species. As for bream, I’ve caught redbreast, bluegill, black crappie, warmouth, stumpknockers, shellcrackers, and fliers all in the same creek. With non-bream like largemouth bass, channel catfish, chain pickerel, and redfin pickerel as a bonus. Not sure where else you could duplicate that kind of diversity.
-Matt Elliott, Nongame Conservation
The best reason for fishing Georgia can be explained very easily — it is one of the best family oriented activities you can participate in. Fishing brings both parents and children closer together and time spent together will make memories for the future, not to mention putting food on the table and a sense of pride in knowing that the child had contributed toward the meal. It’s easy to find the latest and most up-to-date information to at gofishgeorgia.com. or by a simple phone call to a regional office — everyone is happy to help you out!
-Joann Forrester, Northern Georgia
- Catch largemouth, smallmouth, spotted, redeye, Suwannee, and shoal bass, all native to Georgia.
- One angler has caught over 1,100 bass 10 lbs. and bigger in the last 40 years in Georgia. Biggest was over 18 lbs.!
- Chattahoochee River has wild brown trout up to 18 pounds. Toccoa River browns and rainbows over 10 pounds.
- Lakes Lanier (best average size, 4 pounders common) and Burton (maximum size, state record 8lb 2oz, angler released a spotted bass that weighed 10lbs) are two of the best spotted bass fisheries in the country.
- Home of the World Record Largemouth Bass
- World Class striped bass fisheries. State record just tied at 63 pounds.
- Public access trophy bass management lakes where smallest largemouth are 8 pounds, biggest are over 13 pounds and only 7 years old.
- Flathead catfish in Altamaha River up to 100 pounds!
–John Biagi, Chief of Fisheries Management
- Great state parks and boating access facilities at affordable prices.
- We can cure cabin fever! Our winters are mild and we fish right through them.
- A long weekend getaway can allow an angler to fly into Atlanta, drive one hour north, and catch Lanier’s trophy stripers and spotted bass on the same day. He/she can then fish for trout the next day on the Hooch in metro ATL or in our beautiful mountains, just one more hour north.
- Get a jump on spring by heading south!
- The spring striper/hybrid runs out of West Point and up the Hooch.
- Combine a winter weekend getaway of golfing and fishing on lakes Lanier or Clarks Hill.
- Experience the Chattooga Wild and Scenic River by trout fishing on Day 1 and whitewater rafting on Day 2.
–Jeff Durniak, Fisheries Supervisor – Northern Georgia
This says it best from our DNR website under Natural Resources tab first sentence:
“Georgia is one of the most naturally diverse states in the country, ranging from the ridges and valleys of northwest Georgia to thousands of acres of farmlands in the south to the marshlands along the coast.”
–Regina Malcom, Nongame Conservation