The Coosawattee River is a river located in the northwest part of the U.S. state of Georgia. The river begins at the confluence of the Ellijay River and Cartecay River in the city of Ellijay in Gilmer County. The river flows west through the foothills of the north Georgia mountains. In Murray County, the river is impounded by Carters Dam, forming Carters Lake. The river leaves the dam flowing west, briefly serving as the Murray-Gordon County line before entering Gordon County. Near New Echota, the Coosawattee meets the Conasauga River to form the Oostanaula River. The lower Coosawattee River extends approximately 25 miles from Carters Reservoir to its confluence with the Conasauga River northeast of Calhoun, Georgia. Public boat access is limited, but anglers prepared for an all day outing can float from the small boat access at Carters dam to the only public ramp at Ga. Hwy. 225 near Calhoun in a solid days time. A Guide to Fishing the Coosawattee River in PDF (666 kB) format is available at: http://georgiawildlife.dnr.state.ga.us/assets/documents/Coosawattee_Map.pdf A number of bream species call the Coosawattee home, but bluegill and redbreast by far have a lease on most of it. Both are found in good numbers throughout the river.Catfish are extremely abundant in the waters of the lower Coosawattee River. Three species of black bass patrol the Coosawattee River, with spotted bass dominating more than 50% of the group, followed by redeye and largemouth bass. The spot fishery is better than most large rivers in the immediate area, affording anglers the opportunity to catch a fair number of spots in an outing. Coupled with good numbers, spotted bass up to 6 lbs. may stretch lines in and around the numerous log jams and deep pools found in the river. Redeye bass are smaller than spots, but what they lack in size they more than account for in aggressiveness and power. Most redeye will be under a pound, which is typical for the species. However, anglers hooking into large redeye with light spinning tackle will have their hands full. Largemouth are generally rare in the river as would be expected given habitat more suited for the previously discussed bass species. Nevertheless, a few bucket-mouths can nicely round out an anglers day on the water. Striped bass inhabit the Coosawattee River, especially during the summer and early fall months when they are seeking cool water to beat the summer heat. Stripers will generally range in size from 1 to 30 lbs., with the average lineside tipping scales in the 5-6 lb. range.Rounding out the Coosawattee fishing experience are a host of fish species often overlooked by anglers. Suckers, redhorse, carp and freshwater drum are found throughout the river in large numbers. In fact, freshwater drum is one of the most abundant fish species found in the river.
Catfish are extremely abundant in the waters of the lower Coosawattee River. Channel and blue cats dominate, with flatheads being far less common, and generally found in the extreme lower portion of the river near Calhoun. Channels and blues are found throughout the river, however blue cat numbers tend to increase going downstream. Anglers tossing chicken liver and cut bait below shoals, undercut banks, and log-jams will produce fish, but most bragging cats will hold out for live offerings such as bream or shad. The average channel cat will run about ½ lb., while the average blue will be near 1¼ lbs. These deep fryers are numerous and anglers are encouraged to harvest fish in this size range. Harvesting average size fish will help improve growth rates of those remaining, resulting in larger cats for the future.A number of bream species call the Coosawattee home, but bluegill and redbreast by far have a lease on most of it. Both are found in good numbers throughout the river, but they are most abundant in the three-mile river stretch below Carters dam. The average fish will be 5-6 inches, but plenty of 7-9 inch fish are swimming these waters. Crickets, worms and small artificial baits fished in areas of deep slack water behind river obstacles, root wads, and tree-falls are all potential hangouts for these species. Most striper fishing is done in the river below Carters dam, however fish can be found in deep holes or in the mouths of feeder creeks throughout the river. Since striped bass feed heavily on shad, live or cut shad is key, though artificials have their place on the river. The Coosawattee is once again home to a sportfish species that disappeared from the river nearly 40 years ago. Since 2002, 54,000 plus lake sturgeon have been re-introduced to the Coosawattee and surrounding rivers in the greater Coosa River basin. Pollution and overfishing are believed to have eliminated most of these archaic fishes from the river system in the 1960s. Water conditions have improved in the river and WRD has begun to re-stock lake sturgeon in an effort to reestablish this native fish. Through long-term annual stocking it is hoped the species will reclaim much of its historic inhabitance within the river. The species grows slowly and does not mature for 12-15 years so it is important to protect them from harvest until they can reproduce and once again support some angler harvest. Anglers accidentally catching a lake sturgeon should immediately release the fish unharmed. These silver hump-backed fish range in size from just a few inches to over 20 inches in length, though the average drum will run 11 inches. While abundant throughout the river, the few hundred-yard stretch below Carters dam is a hot bed for drum. The species prefers moderately deep flowing river sections in which to feed. Small jigs bumped along these areas, live crawfish, cut mussels, worms and shrimp fished on the bottom are an anglers best approach to drumming up one of these unique fishes.
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