Ocmulgee River Flounder Caught 200 Miles From The Coast
Fishing is great, and one reason is that you never really know what lurks down there and might take an interest in your lure. However, when you’re dragging a Carolina-rigged lizard in the Ocmulgee River and feel that tap-tap, an angler has to think largemouth bass. Not so fast…
Wayne Nall, a longtime GON subscriber from Broxton, set the hook last Wednesday, June 30, and of course he thought bass at first.
“I thought it was a pretty good bass,” Wayne said. “We’ve been catching some good ones with the river staying full this year. Then the fish didn’t come up, and I said, ‘Something isn’t right here.’ When I got it up and it came by the boat close enough, I saw that messed up brown color, and I thought it was a flathead. I was half right. Turns out I had a big flatfish.”
Wayne was fishing a stretch of the Ocmulgee River just below the Highway 441 bridge along the Telfair-Coffee county line. That’s about 200 river miles from the brackish water at the coast where catching a flounder wouldn’t raise an eyebrow. And Wayne’s freshwater flounder was a good one, measuring about 18 inches long. The flounder hit a Zoom pumpkinseed lizard with a chartreuse tail.
We asked Capt. Bert Deener about the catch. Bert is the WRD Fisheries Regional Supervisor in southeast Georgia and a longtime contributor of fishing articles for GON. Bert’s first comment was, “That’s a nice flounder!”
Bert said, “We get reports of upriver flounder every year—some years more than others—but no real pattern of dry versus wet years. Flounder can survive in a wide range of salinities, as their bodies can adjust to survive in everything from ocean water to pure freshwater.
“While they typically live in saltwater, it is not uncommon for them to take a vacation up one of our Georgia rivers. The Altamaha system is their preferred vacation destination. I’ve personally electrofished flounder 20 to 30 miles upstream of saltwater during our standardized sampling, but have had reports of flounder being caught, usually by bass anglers, in the Jesup area and upstream,” Bert said.
“This Ocmulgee River flounder had a little more energy than most and is the farthest upstream I’ve heard of in my 20+ year career.”
In 2011, GON published an article about bowfishermen finding some flounder below the Lock and Dam in Augusta, about 160 miles up the Savannah River from saltwater.
An interesting coincidence about Wayne’s flounder was that his buddy Jessie Jowers was fishing in the same area of the Ocmulgee that day, and Jessie had a flounder encounter decades ago while fishing in Wayne’s boat.
Wayne said, “Somewhere in the neighborhood of 35 years ago, Jessie was fishing a club tournament in my boat down in Jesup, and he caught a flounder not quite as big on a crankbait. I went up there and showed Jessie my flounder, and it blew his mind. When he caught his, the river was really was dry.”
And in the boat with Jessie was Brad Borland, who was featured in a 2005 article on bass fishing at Lake Blackshear.
Share any interesting catches and outdoor experiences by contacting GON at [email protected].
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