The Oostanaula River originates at the confluence of the Conasauga and Coosawattee Rivers northeast of Calhoun, Georgia. It winds southward approximately 49 miles to Rome, Georgia where it merges with the Etowah River to form the Coosa River.
The Oostanaula 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 Oostanaula River and other rivers in the greater Coosa River basin by the WRD. Pollution and overfishing are believed to have eliminated most of these archaic fishes from the river system in the 1960s. Thankfully since then, water conditions have improved in the river. 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. Fish hooked deep will often survive if anglers will cut the line near the hook and release the fish with the hook. If you catch a sturgeon, please contact the Calhoun (ph# ) or Summerville (ph# ) WRD office to report the location from which the sturgeon was caught. Such sightings help biologists assess the status of these magnificent fish.
Anglers will likely be most successful in the pursuit of catfish on the Oostanaula. Channels, blues and flatheads inhabit its murky recesses year-round.
Deep pools, undercut banks, and logjams.
Fisherman often find the largest individuals hold-up in deep pools, undercut banks, and in logjams, especially those with good flow around them. All sized cats will move from these hideouts in the morning and evening to feed around shoals and other shallow habitats. Blue and channel cats occur in similar numbers, with blues averaging 1 lb. and channels nearing ¾ lb. Larger blue cats in the 5-8 lb. range are somewhat common, with individuals over 10 lbs. being considerably less common. Flatheads are present, yet in much lower numbers than either blues or channels. Live bait are a must for those looking to boat flatheads with regularity.
The muddy waters of the Oostanaula provide only fair to poor black bass fishing opportunity for northwest Georgia anglers. Nearly 80% of the black bass population is made up of spotted bass averaging 7-8 inches long. The less common largemouth has an average length of 12 inches and weighs in at just over a pound. Largemouth are more common in the lower reaches of the river while spots, despite being found throughout, are most numerous in the 4 mile stretch above and below state Hwy. 140. Target these fish around creek mouths, debris jams, and around overhanging vegetation and fallen trees. Small numbers of redeye bass are resident to the river section between Georgia Hwy. 225 and Hwy. 156. However, redeye fisherman will have greater success targeting these natives in the many tributaries feeding the Oostanaula.
Oostanaula bream anglers will find low to moderate numbers of bluegill, and still fewer numbers of redbreast, redear (shellcrackers) sunfish, and crappie. Bluegill fisherman will typically find fish averaging 5 inches, with gills over 7 inches being rare. Target bream in slow water areas around creek mouths and the slack-waters behind debris jams.
Stripers will move into the lower Oostanaula around Rome, Georgia to spawn during April and May. Egg laden females up to 40 lbs. will come to Rome to start the next generation of linesides. Bucktails and live or cut shad can be effective patterns for the spring striper fisherman. Be sure to use stout fishing gear to prevent these behemoths from breaking you off around the log-jams and tree canopies they frequent. After the spawn, stripers disperse throughout the Coosa River system seeking cool water in which to beat the summer heat. Small stripers may be caught in the Oostanaula during the summer, but the premier fishing will be in the spring months.
Spring also brings white bass into the Oostanaula to spawn. Success during this time can be sporadic for the inexperienced. White bass anglers should instead consider fishing downstream in the Coosa River. Larger numbers of white bass can be found there during the spawn in the area at or below the Rome Lock and Dam during March and April. Boats can be launched from the Lock and Dam Park or downstream at the Old River Road boat ramp off state Hwy. 20 west of Rome, Georgia. These concentrated spawn-run fish can be caught using small jigs and crankbaits in addition to live baits.
Smallmouth buffalo, freshwater drum, carp and suckers dominate the relatively slow moving waters of the Oostanaula. Drum average 12 inches in length with larger bull drum exceeding 20 inches. Those wishing to catch drum should target the swifter waters and shoals of the Oostanaula using live crayfish, cut mussels, shrimp, or small jigs fished along the bottom.