Two Flounder Up The Ocmulgee, 150 Miles From The Coast

Andrew Curtis | May 9, 2023

Miles Zachary with his biggest Ocmulgee River flounder, caught July 28, 2022 where the Ocmulgee and Oconee rivers converge to form the Altamaha River.

Miles Zachary was not surprised this time. He had already done it once, not even a year before, but now, on Sunday, April 30, 2023, he looked at his rare catch with amusement and awe. The Baxley native had just caught his second flounder around the confluence of the Oconee and Ocmulgee rivers where the Altamaha River begins, roughly 150 water miles from the Georgia coast.

Launching at a friend’s private ramp (Duke’s Hunting and Fishing Lodge owned by Dan Stone) on the Altamaha River in Montgomery County near the “three river split,” Miles made his way up the left-hand side of the “Y” to scout for an upcoming bass tournament hosted by a local fishing club. After going about 2 miles up the Ocmulgee River split, Miles located an area to begin his fishing for the day. 

“I had found a spot near some willows over a sandbar and was casting my crankbait in about 3 or 4 feet of water,” Miles said. “I was fishing with a crankbait in something like a firetiger/bluegill color. I was making my lure hit the bottom. On the second cast, I set the hook on one that felt pretty big. When I got it to the boat, I knew immediately what I had, so I just flipped it into the boat.”

The fish was a 2- or 3-lb. flounder. Miles tossed the fish into his livewell and kept on fishing. He later released the fish after pictures were taken.

Flashback to July 28, 2022. Miles and his friend Andy Ramay were fishing in the same area trying to catch bass. Miles was throwing a medium-diving, green-pumpkin, craw-colored crankbait in 3 to 4 feet of water, bumping it off a private, concrete boat ramp onto the sandy bottom.

“I felt a hard strike and set the hook. I thought I had an 8- to 10-lb. bass. It was stripping my drag and heading out to the deep current. Then, I finally got it to the surface and thought, ‘What the heck did I hook?’ It looked like a stingray,” Miles laughed. “I yelled to Andy to grab the net, and he got the fish into the boat. We couldn’t believe it… We were staring at a big flounder!”

Once Miles posed for pictures with the 5- to 6-lb. flounder, he released it back into the river.

“I just couldn’t bring myself to keep it. I didn’t really know what to do with it because I wasn’t keeping fish to eat that day, and it was such a magnificent fish that I thought I should let it go.”

It was only after he posted the pictures on social media and received feedback that Miles began to question truly how special his catch had been.

“I checked around to see if there were any flounder records listed for the Altamaha River but found out that there are no records kept for them there, I guess because they are so rare to catch.”

So he’s caught two flounder in less than a year 150 miles from the coast. Just how rare is this occurrence?

Flounder Fun Heats Up With Summer

Eddie Leonard, Georgia DNR Coastal Resource Division marine biologist, commented, “It’s rare, but not mind-boggling that flounder can be found that far upstream. There is a common misconception that saltwater fish have to live in saltwater, and freshwater fish have to live in freshwater. Most fish can cross over quite well for extended periods of time.”

He went on to explain that the Altamaha River is a long, unimpeded river that leads to the Georgia coast. Therefore, no physical barrier prevents saltwater fish from traveling all the way to where Miles was fishing. 

“Flounder are interesting fish. Fisheries biologists actually have very little knowledge about them as far as their habits are concerned. We have learned that flounder go way offshore to spawn, and those big ones usually don’t come back, but it surprises me that we don’t know more about them,” Leonard said.

He was able to identify both fish as southern flounder, which are the most common on the Georgia coast. 

“Maybe I should have kept those flounder,” Miles said, “but I am glad I let them go.”

With that kind of luck, Miles will probably boat another river flounder in his lifetime, and he will be eager to share the story with GON again!


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  1. ajabbott2 on May 11, 2023 at 1:11 pm

    I see mullet and ladyfish as far north on the Okmulgee as the dam in Juliette. I don’t have a clue on the mileage, but it’s a long journey.

  2. gr8shot on May 11, 2023 at 10:56 am

    Thats really cool. I remember my dad and I fishing in the Tailrace canal at Santee Cooper and some guys were bowfishing and shot several flounder close to us. And we were 50 miles from the coast.

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