The Oconee River begins in Northern Georgia below Lake Sidney Lanier above Atlanta and flows down as where it meets the Ocmulgee River to form the Altamaha, which flows to the Atlantic Ocean, near Darien, GA. The trip this past weekend was on the Oconee below Dublin, GA paddling the 28.8 miles down to Hwy 46, South of Soperton, GA for a three-day two-night trip. Once again, I was invited by the Bluffton Boys as I call them, a hearty group from Bluffton, SC who canoe, camp, and fish usually once a year and use old Grumman Aluminum Canoes. Something I learned to paddle years ago, at least in the late 50�s. Last year they invited me for a long trip on the Altamaha. These hardy paddlers included my brother in law, Jim Odum, Kermit Huggins, and John Thomas.
Jim had made the arrangements for the trip and we left Bluffton, SC for the two-hour drive to Soperton, GA. It was arranged by the Treutlen County Sheriffs Office that they would have someone do a shuttle for us. After a meeting at the courthouse, off duty deputy Don Rotton rode with us to the put in below Dublin, GA off Brick Yard Landing Rd. This is section I in the Paddlers Guide to Southern Georgia. After dropping us off Deputy Rotton took the car and trailer back to the Treutlen County impound area to be safe. We finally hit the water at 1000.
This section is wide about 150 ft and rocks are numerous through out this section down to the I-16 Bridge about 1.8 miles. It was apparent that we would not have any trouble finding a camping place, as around every bend in the river was a sandbar, with enough room on some of them to camp a battalion of soldiers. During this paddle we fished and floated and caught several fish, some too small to keep. We encountered a small (4 ft) dead alligator on a big tree limb above the water and lots of bird life to include kingfishers, buzzards, anhinga or snakebirds. There was no problem finding sandbars for a nice lunch stop.
After paddling 12.6 miles we found a nice sandbar on river left for our first camp at 3:30 pm. After setting up camp we looked for firewood. It takes this group lots of wood as they do all there cooking on the fire as the look of the black pots prove it. Hors d �oeuvres of summer sausage, Gouda cheese, and crackers along with ones favorite beverage was served. Supper that night consisted of steaks on the grill. The temperature was dropping that night and go really cold when I woke up around 0330 to put on a stocking cap and socks in the sleeping bag. The next morning the temperature was 32 degrees. I had my usual sausage and egg omelet, Jim had his oatmeal, and John and Kermit had �one eyed jacks�. A piece of bread in the fry pan with a hole in the middle whereas you dump an egg to cook.
After breakfast, cleanup, and packing, we left camp at 1000. That day we drifted and fished and saw deer, an alligator, and bird life. Fishing was not good this day and it looked like Saturday night we would not have our fish fry. Once again, there were sandbars around every corner as the water was low, 2.1 ft with a flow of 1000 cfs at the USGS gauging station in Dublin. The river could have been two feet higher and still have sandbars. This river is beautiful, as we encountered some high banks up to 75 ft and rock formations. There was virtually no development on this section of the river and we encountered very few boats and no canoes or kayaks.
We wanted to find a camp early that night for the usual Saturday night bath and we found one at 2:50 pm. We set up camp, found wood, and then bath time. The temperature was in the upper 70s but water temp felt like 30�s. After bath, it was hors d�oeuvres of venison sausage, crackers, and Gouda cheese. That night since we had no fish it was a mixture of red beans and rice, summer sausage, hot dogs on wheat tortillas with sauerkraut and mustard. The temperature was nice that night, not as cold as the previous night. Both nights were really nice due to an almost full moon.
The next day after breakfast, each to his own, omelet, egg sandwich, oatmeal we packed and were on the river at 0910. We made arrangements for the Deputy Sheriff to bring the car between 1200 and 1300. However we were running ahead so at a sandbar we called and left a message that we would be at the take out on Hwy 46 by 1100. As we got near to the Hwy 46, big bluffs were on the right bank and below the bridge where we took out was a large rock formation. We made the take out and our ride was there.
A nice river, desolate, good scenery, and the water was not as muddy or filled with silt as I had previously read. The put in and take out were real easy, although muddy due to the low water. The river was easy to paddle, no difficulties but you had to watch for submerged trees. I would definitely go back to this river.
Motels and Restaurants near I-16
2 aluminum Grumman canoes
NO fees or permits unless you fish, $7 for 7 days out of state fishing license.
Take Hwy 46 through Soperton, GA, go East on 199 to Nichols Rd, south of Dublin, GA, Turn on Brickyard Landing Rd. Take out is Hwy 46 South of Soperton, GA
Delorme Georgia Atlas, A Paddlers Guide to Southern Georgia.