Ocmulgee River Flounder Caught 200 Miles From The Coast

GON Staff | July 8, 2021

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 Nall, of Broxton, with the big flounder he caught June 30, 2021, while fishing a stretch of the Ocmulgee River 200 miles from the coast.

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!”

The Ocmulgee River Page

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.

Wayne described his Ocmulgee River flounder as “so ugly it was pretty. It was a perfectly healthy fish.”

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.

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  1. opiejr on July 8, 2021 at 5:53 pm

    Back in early 70’s a buddy and I used to run lines on weekends below the Jax bridge and when seining for bait it was not unusual to have 100s of halfdollar sized small flounder, having gigged with my Dad as a youth in the Crescent Beach area was well aware of what a flounder was. So apparently they have been spawning in that area for at least the last 50years…Ask my ole buddy Gary, he still lives within a mile of the bridge………sure had fun back then …..

  2. gr8shot on July 8, 2021 at 2:09 pm

    Yea we see flounder pretty regular in the Santee Cooper tailrace in SC which is 30-40 miles from the coast. But 200 miles is quite a swim!

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