Linesides Stacked In The Georgia Tailraces

When stripers, hybrids and white bass make their spring river runs, any concrete blocking the river stacks them up. Here are some of the best locations.

Brad Bailey | March 1, 2003

Beginning in March, white bass, hybrids and stripers begin their spring migration out of many of Georgia’s reservoirs and up the tributary rivers. Places like Dyers Pasture on the Oconee River above Lake Oconee, the Chattahoo-chee above Lanier around Lula, and Franklin Shoals on the Chattahoochee above Lake West Point are legendary for the phenomenal numbers of white bass and hybrids caught each spring.

There are other excellent destinations where you can catch linesides on the run, particularly places where a dam blocks their passage up a river. The fish stack up in these locations, and the fishing can be outstanding. Here’s a look at some of the more popular tailrace destinations for linesides on the run.

Lock & Dam on the Coosa:

The Mayo Lock & Dam is legendary for the numbers of white bass, crappie and striped bass caught here. Located just south of Rome on the Coosa River, this concrete structure stops fish coming upstream from Lake Weiss.  According to WRD Fisheries Biologist Kevin Dallmier, last year, the white bass showed up at the Lock & Dam around the first week of March. Striped bass arrive later, from the end of March to around the first week of April.

The Mayo Lock & Dam on the Coosa River below Rome is a hotspot for white bass and stripers. Some anglers use a heavy weight at the end of their line and rig jigs on dropper lines above the weight to get the jigs down in the current.

For white bass, 1/8-oz. crappie jigs are standard fare. Small pearl-colored Sassy Shads, Shad Raps, and chrome Rat-L-Traps are among the striper-catching baits.

Re-reg dam below Carters:

For striped bass, the tailrace below the Lake Carters re-reg dam is worth mentioning. According to Kevin, the  striped bass show up here starting in mid April and they will remain in the cool-water refuge all summer. Big jigs — 1 1/2- to 2-oz. bucktails — fished in the eddying water is a good bet. Fishing piers are available on both sides of the river.

Richard B. Russell Tailrace:

This tailrace was renowned for producing huge striped bass that made the run up from Clarks Hill. While dredging by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has altered the cool-water refuge that the big linesides were seeking, there are still plenty of striped bass to be caught. There is a concrete fishing pier and three rock jetties on the Georgia side that you can fish from. Many anglers use salt-water-sized spinning rigs to hurl 2-oz. bucktails into the current.

Live bait can also be effective in the area immediately below the tailrace. On February 13, GON Editor Daryl Kirby fished this tailrace with fishing guide Wendell Wilson. In about 90 minutes of freelining live blueback herring they caught three stripers in the 5- to 15-lb. range.

Tugaloo River, Yonah Dam:

The lineside run up the Tugaloo River above Lake Hartwell is a three-stage event, according to WRD Fisheries Biologist Anthony Rabern.

“The white bass usually run up the river in mid March,” he said. “They are followed by the hybrids in mid April; and the striped bass make the run around the first of May.”

The white bass run coming up out of Lake Hartwell is marginal, according to Anthony, but good numbers of hybrids come up the river, and fishing for them is popular. Boat access is available from both Walker Creek, which is less than a mile below the dam, or Stephens County Park. Because of shoals, boats can get only within a half-mile of the dam. There is bank access at the base of the dam. One of the more popular areas to fish is around the Hwy 123 bridge and upstream to the railroad bridge.

Eagle/Phenix Dam, Columbus:

This is likely the most popular linesides run in middle Georgia in March and April. Thousands of white bass and hybrids swarm up the Chattahoochee to this dam and shoals, which are located in downtown Columbus. Bank access to the tailrace is good, especially from the Alabama side. If you fish from a boat, watch for eddying water behind sandbars just below the shoals as a promising place to cast jigs.

Lake Worth Tailrace:

The tailrace below Lake Worth is currently closed due to construction of new fishing facilities. The good news is that the new fishing pier and walkway being constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers should be opened by mid March. Russ said that there is a good run of white bass, hybrids and good numbers of striped bass in the 1- to 5-lb. range. There is also the long-shot at a big striped bass. “Every year we hear of one or two really big stripers being caught – fish in the 40- to 50-lb. range.

Lake Eufaula Tailrace:

According to Russ Ober, the region supervisor of Fisheries in Albany, the best tailrace for linesides in his region, the tailrace immediately below Lake Eufaula, is off limits to anglers due to construction at the dam. Construction is expected to continue for another year.

George Andrews Columbia Lock & Dam:

Russ rates this tailrace on the Chattahoochee River near Blakely as a good place to try for linesides. “People tie their boats to the cable and catch lots of hybrids and whites and occasionally a good-sized striper. Most of the stripers will run in the 1- to 5-lb. range.”

Hybrid and striper anglers often use live shad that they net from along the rock walls as bait. White jigs are tops for white bass.

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