The slow moving waters of the Altamaha River flow effortlessly through some of the South's last remaining hardwood bottomlands, cypress swamps, historic rice fields and tidal marshes. Unhampered by dams, the Altamaha River winds 137 miles from the confluence of the Ocmulgee and Oconee rivers to its coastal terminus near the historic fishing town of Darien.
Encompassing 1.2 million acres, the Altamaha River watershed is one of the three largest river basins on the Atlantic Seaboard, draining approximately one-quarter of the state of Georgia. In fact, the Altamaha expels approximately 100,000 gallons of freshwater into the Atlantic Ocean every second.
The Altamaha forms the Northeast boundary of Wayne County, meandering its way past more than 60 miles of river frontage. For the people of Wayne County, the river is the focal point of an outdoors culture - hunting, boating, waterskiing, camping, swimming and, of course, fishing.
Small wonder. The Altamaha River is one of the premier catfish rivers in the southeast. Many large channel catfish, blue catfish and flathead catfish are thriving in the river. The state record cat and flathead were both pulled from the Altamaha.
Fishing for catfish begins in early spring and peaks between May and September when the river is well within its banks. The better fishing occurs in deep holes located along the outside bends in the river. An electronic fish finder is useful in locating deep holes and fish. When using sporting tackle, a minimum of 30-pound test line is recommended due to the numerous snags in the river and the flatheads' large size. After all, 30- to 50-pound fish are not uncommon.
Live bait is a must. Large worms, shiners and bream are some of the more popular baits for many of the 174 species of fish in the Altamaha River.
Flatheads are prevalent throughout the river, but the highest densities of flatheads are found between Jaycee Landing (river mile 67) and Altamaha Park (river mile 30).