13 Best Catfish Fishing Lakes and Rivers in Georgia

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There is something to be said about catfishing, particularly when it’s done in Georgia.

The best catfish fishing lakes and rivers in Georgia bring you face to whiskers with cats over 70 pounds. Imagine bringing in a 70-pound blue cat and snapping a quick photo before sending it back to the depths.

Georgia is a beautiful state with everything from mountain lakes to lowland swamps. Catfish flourish in most of them.

Searching for giants will take time, though knowing the best lakes and rivers in the state will narrow the playing field.

Channel cats, blues, and flatheads are cruising in many of the waters throughout the state. You just need to find them.

Flatheads aren’t as widespread as channel and blue catfish, though they are still abundant in waters where they were illegally planted years ago.

Best Catfish Fishing Lakes in Georgia

The following lakes are epic catfish producers. Grab your catfish rod, and make sure to use a strong line. It’s time to catch some kitties.

Andrews Lake

Andrews Lake boasts the biggest blue catfish ever landed in Georgia.

This little Chattahoochee River reservoir on the Alabama line near Fort Gaines comes in at under 1550 acres.

Despite its size, George W. Andrews Lake has a history of producing big cats. There have been several blue catfish caught above 50 pounds, along with the lake record of over 80 pounds.

Channel cats, flatheads, and blue cats thrive in this lake, with the blues having a noteworthy population of fish over 40 pounds. However, non-native flatheads have taken nicely to the area and are gaining ground on the blues.

Being a river-run reservoir, this narrow lake has a current that larger storage impoundments don’t.

Blue cats are suckers for cut gizzard shad. Bait a few rods and take a boat into the area near the buoy markers at the base of the dam. The more current you find, the better.

Big blues are more nocturnal feeders, so hit Andrews Lake on a summer evening and plan on spending the time it takes to catch a few. Bait up more than one rod to improve your chances.

Hook a bream, shad, or crayfish to a circle hook and let it do its thing in the current. Live bait is a favorite of the flatheads here, and the blues and channel cats will also take advantage of a well-placed live sucker or shad.

Find the deeper holes in the river bottom with your electronics and drop your line down with a large enough sinker to keep the bait in place at the top of the hole.

The current will take care of the rest, ringing the dinner bell for big catfish in the depths below, especially if you’re targeting blue cats.

For flatheads, search out undercut banks and eddies along the lake/river and hit the deeper sections. They’ll hold up in deeper holes along the bank, so put your bait as close as possible.

Keep in mind that these fish are massive. Use a strong braided main line of around 80-100 pounds and the same strength mono for the leader. You’re not only fighting the fish here, but you’re also fighting the current.

There are several well-equipped campgrounds in the vicinity of Andrews Lake for tent and RV camping. In addition, plenty of bait shops and restaurants are in the area to provide you with everything you’ll need for your trip.

Lake Oconee

Lake Oconee is a large lake with the possibility of large catfish just off I-20 in Central Georgia. It also offers epic bass fishing so that you can mix it up on your fishing trips.

There are marinas and docks around the lake and excellent shoreline access for the bank angler. 

Most anglers think of Oconee as a bass lake. It is that, but it’s also an epic cat fishery. Catches of a blue cat over 47 pounds and flathead just over 44 pounds are good indicators of bigger fish in the lake.

Live bluegill and shad are the go-to catfish baits at Lake Oconee. Fish them in the current near the dam.

The power cycle on the dam creates backflowing currents at night, making it the perfect area to target big blues and flatheads.

Find the old riverbed near the dam and fish the points that drop off into it.

Don’t skip dragging a bait across any rises you see on your fish finder. They like to sit on the edge of a hump, waiting to snag whatever flows over it.

Watch out for all the timber surrounding the river channel. It’ll give you fits trying to keep your line snag-free. However, the channel should be clearer of snags and has some great ledges and other structure to target.

Sitting near an interstate about midway between Atlanta and Augusta, it’s not surprising Lake Oconee is popular among anglers and water sports enthusiasts. Resorts dot the area, and camping and RV lots are readily available.

Lake Sinclair

Lake Sinclair is just south of Lake Oconee and north of Milledgeville. And catfish also are abundant throughout Lake Sinclair.

The primary whiskered target here is the channel catfish. However, blue cats, white cats, and bullheads are also in the mix. Rumor has it that white cats are exceptional table fare.

Lake Sinclair is home to one of the highest catfish populations in Georgia. While the size may not rival other waters, channel cats are everywhere and average around four pounds. Bigger catfish are in here, with channel cats of up to 20 pounds reported.

Blues are growing fast in Sinclair, and 50+ pounders are bound to be caught in the near future.

Blues have been in the lake since the mid-2000s and now have had some time to start reaching exceptional sizes. Twenty to 30-pounders are becoming common, with fish in the 50- to 60-pound range showing up here and there. 

Cut shad is the go-to for blues here. Live baits like bluegill and shad also work. You might get a surprise 25-pound channel cat on the line as well.

The bullheads will eat anything you throw at them, so if that’s your target, you should do very well here.

Flatheads are enormous here, pushing toward the 40-pound neighborhood. A recent catch would have smashed the current lake record, but the angler released it without an official weight. It was caught on a lizard while bass fishing.

Work the shoreline searching out deeper holes to find the biggest flatheads. Live bait is the best option here.

There are plenty of amenities around the lake, and with the proximity to Lake Oconee, you can spend a week fishing between the two.

Clarks Hill Lake

This Savannah River reservoir is one of Georgia’s biggest at over 71,000 acres. The lake is on the South Carolina/Georgia border. In SC, it’s known as Lake Strom Thurmond, while Georgia stuck with the original Clarks Hill name.

Whatever you want to call it, you’re going to find massive flatheads, blues, and channel cats.

There have been multiple 60+ pound flatheads brought in. Blues in the same weight range also have been caught, though they are less common.

Fishing for catfish isn’t as high pressure here as it is on other lakes. Bass are the big draw on Clarks Hill. That’s good news for the catfish angler. They’ve grown big. 

In Georgia, start your search for them along the Little River from the dam westward up to the shallow section at Highway 78. Use cut shad for the blues and live bluegill or shad for the flatheads. 

The Hwy 43 bridge marks the beginning of deeper, more structured water. Target the old riverbed. Use your fish finder to map out the timberline along the old channel and fish the inside of it. You’ll be in for fast action.

When you’re done battling behemoths, take some time to enjoy some of the best crappie fishing Georgia has to offer.

The lake is surrounded by campgrounds, small towns, resorts, hotels, RV parks, and plenty of bait shops. Mistletoe State Park is one of several spots that could serve as your base camp.

Basically, you’ll likely be able to find everything you need close by. If not, Augusta is within reach.

Lake Hartwell

Lake Hartwell is another border lake with South Carolina. Hartwell combines the Savannah, Seneca, and Tugaloo rivers and offers anglers some epic catfish action.

Largemouth bass fishing here is also epic, so don’t miss out on a great two-pronged trip if you like to bass fish.

When it comes to catfish, be sure to rig for big fish. You’ll want at least a 65-pound braid and a solid 2/0 hook that won’t straighten out when reeling in a 60- or 70-pound fish. 

If you’re targeting blues and flatheads, try using giant bait. Catch some blueback herring and use it whole. Using smaller bait will catch smaller fish, but the bluebacks will bring in the monsters.

If you’re targeting blue cats, cut bait works better. Flatheads like live bait. Channel cats also are plentiful and big here and aren’t too picky.

Target the rocky points around the lake. Fishing along old river and creek channels will let your bait sit near or in deep holes.

The Beaverdam Creek area holds some monster flatheads, along with ample channel cats of 20+ pounds. So you should catch kitties in this area.

One technique a couple of locals use is to rig up live bait, pull 30 or 40 feet of line from the reel, and coil that line onto the boat deck. They then drop the bait over the side and let the line out by hand, avoiding any chance of drag from the rod.

They report averaging over 100 pounds of catfish every time they hit Lake Hartford, so it sounds like they’re onto something.

Don’t stay in the same spot for more than an hour. If you don’t get bites, move on.

There are campgrounds and RV parks, including Tugaloo State Park, all around the lake, along with plenty of bait and tackle shops.

High Falls Lake

High Falls Lake is the perfect spot to take the kids. You’re almost guaranteed a catch. Fishing can be easy. Largemouth are everywhere, along with channel and flathead catfish, black and white crappies, and the occasional hybrid bass. 

The lake is just off I-75 near Jackson, roughly between Atlanta and Macon.

For being a relatively small lake, it’s got huge fish. It held the state record flathead for some time with a 60-pounder. The bottom is covered in silt, with little structure to speak of other than old stumps.

Launch at Buck Creek on the west side and hit the bay with live bait. Focus special attention on any submerged structure you find. It will have a catfish or a bass hiding in it.

Next up, head around the corner to the mouth of Brushy Creek. Fish the entire mouth of the creek with live bait and let it drift through that area and down to the dam. The big flatheads like to sit along the channel and snap up unsuspecting shad.

Plenty of camping, lodging, and conveniences are in the immediate area, including High Falls State Park. There’s lots for the family to do here as well, so bring them along.

Lake Blackshear

Lake Blackshear is near Cordele in southwestern Georgia, just off Interstate 75.

It’s a popular lake that draws anglers down from Columbus and Atlanta. You can target channel cats and flatheads, along with largemouth bass, black and white crappie, stripers, smallmouth, and bluegill.

The lake record flathead is just under 40 pounds, though much bigger fish have been seen. It’s also a great spot to go for big channel cats.

Night fishing is excellent here. The channel cats will keep you busy all night long. They’re big beasts as well.

Start your day along the old river channel by Smoak Bridge on the lake’s southern end. Toss a hook baited with live bream or shad and hold on tight.

To increase your odds, leave the bail open and let the fish move naturally. The cats will be more willing to take bait that isn’t hindered by a tight line.

Work your way into the main lake channel and fish the rocky points. Flatheads like the points. There are several areas with deeper depressions along the points they hang out in.

Lake Blackshear has everything you need. Campgrounds, lodging, golf courses, restaurants, marinas, and plenty of private rentals are on its shores.

Nottely Lake

Nottely Lake sits near Blairsville, just south of the North Carolina line. This deep, 4,180-acre Tennessee Valley Authority reservoir offers great catfish opportunities, including some massive flatheads cruising around its waters.

Head to the upper end of the lake, where it narrows into the river. This area is the best spot in the late spring/early summer. Fish the drop-offs and points that move into the river channel with big baits.

Target giant flatheads with the biggest bluegill or shad you’ve got. Drift through the points until you connect. Here it’s more of a when not if.

Mid-summer through fall calls for heading to the lower lake. Fish the deeper points and pay particular attention to the humps on the bottom. Fish at night with your bait on the lower edge of the hump just before it falls into the channel.

The area boasts several hotels, resorts, and excellent campgrounds. Bring the family and enjoy the Georgia mountains. Bring your fly rod or light spin tackle and also take advantage of North Georgia’s excellent trout fishing.

Lake Lanier

Beautiful autumn color in the woodlands along the shore of blue Lake Lanier, a popular Georgia fishing spot.
Photo by SandraBurm (Depositphotos)

Lake Lanier has to be one of the best catfish lakes in Georgia. The flatheads are enormous, the channels are abundant, and the fishing is almost always successful.

Although near Gainesville and just an hour outside Atlanta, Lanier doesn’t receive the catfishing pressure that many other lakes in the area get.

The lake record flathead is over 51 pounds, though much bigger ones are surely in there. Recent claims that an angler caught and released a flathead over 55 pounds mean Lanier has monsters.

One thing about the freed giant: It was caught on a crankbait. The angler was fishing for bass in the pockets and hooked up with the flathead at around noon.

Needless to say, fish the pockets with live shad or bluegill/bream, and you might set a new lake or possibly state record.

The channel catfish are decent-sized as well. Channels of 20-plus pounds are in there, and since the lake isn’t heavily fished, you’ll have a great chance at catching a cooler full.

There’s ample camping and lodging in this well-populated area. Restaurants are everywhere and range from cheap to break the bank expensive.

Best Catfish Fishing Rivers in Georgia

These rivers are standouts among a laundry list of fantastic channel catfish fisheries. And the flatheads on Altamaha and giant blue cats on the Coosa are reason enough to head to the river.

Altamaha River

Altamaha is well known as a big fish producer. The Wayne County Board of Tourism hosts a catfish tournament in Jesup to kick off summer, and anglers haul some massive cats out each year.

The state record flathead is shared by two 83-pounders that anglers caught on the Altamaha, the first in 2006 and the second in 2010.

There have been even bigger fish caught using techniques that don’t count toward the sport fishing record books. So get out there and catch the next one.

The state record channel cat, at 44 pounds, 12 ounces, came from Altamaha River in 1972. So, it’s safe to say all the catfish in the river get big.

Live and cut bait are great for channel cats, though flatheads prefer live bait. Use the biggest bluegill or shad you’ve got if you’ve got trophy catfish on the docket. Bigger really is better in this instance.

Fish the outside banks of the river bends and target undercuts along the bank. Drift your bait through as much of the section as possible in one go. Rinse and repeat. Use a second rod to put a stationary bait out there on the top edge of the deeper hole. 

Big flatheads are caught all along the Altamaha flowing through southeastern Georgia. The best section for blue catfish is below Jesup.

There are several places to stay near the river, along with bait and tackle. You should be able to find what you need.

Coosa River

The Coosa River runs from the confluence of the Oostanaula and Etowah rivers to Weiss Lake on the Alabama border. The Allatoona and Carters dams upriver regulate the releases of reservoir water to manage river’s flow. 

Launch in Rome and start fishing the mouths of any creeks and ditches you come across.

The prime spots to target are the eddies along the sides where the creek meets the river. That’s where the fat cats hold. They typically muscle the smaller catfish out of the prime feeding zones.

Toss live bluegill or shad in there and get ready.

Drop your anchor in the creek and fish back toward the main river. Target the old creek channel and the eddies.

When you come upon a bend in the river, fish the outside, where the current cuts the deepest holes and delivers food to waiting catfish. Undercut banks are the perfect spots to target.

You’re in for an epic battle with a flathead or big blue if you find one in an undercut hole.

There are a few places to stay along the river, and camping can be found. If you’re doing a long float, bring everything you need.

Oostanaula River

The Oostanaula River runs between Calhoun and Rome. It meets the Etowah River and becomes the Coosa River.

Above this point, it’s a little river, and you’ll need a small boat to fish it effectively. Kayaks and canoes are perfect.

The river has lots of shallow stretches and wood stands in the water, so you’ll need to be on the lookout.

The river boasts big cats that will aggressively take a live bream. Take the time to work any fallen timber and undercut banks. There should be enough small creeks flowing into the river to give you a shot at some massive flatheads.

Use the current to your advantage. Toss your bait upstream from the intended target and let the current work it into the target zone. 

Calhoun and Rome both have everything you need to supply up for the trip. This section of the river ties nicely to a more extended trip down the Coosa with an overnight stop in Rome.

Flint River

The Flint River is home to 30-plus-pound flatheads and all the channel catfish you could want. Most of the channel cats are between 2 and 5 pounds, but there are plenty of them.

Like in most rivers, the bigger cats want live bream or shad and hold in the eddies near smaller creek entrances, beneath the undercut banks along river bends, and along the inside edge of downed timber next to the channel.

It’s possible to wade fish sections of the river, though the best option is a kayak, canoe, or johnboat. Put in below the Blackshear Dam and float to the SR 32 Bridge. It’ll take you all day if you fish it effectively and do some wading while floating through.

Live bait will bring channel cats and shoal bass by the bucket. You’ll end the day with more shoal bass than catfish, but it’s one of the few places to catch them.

The river passes through several communities and has plenty of access points for food, gear, and lodging if you want to make it an overnighter.

Catch More Catfish

We have a complete, easy-to-follow guide with the top catfish fishing techniques, tackle, baits and other tips.