The Yellow River gets it's start in Gwinnett
County, runs through the eastern tip of Dekalb and through Rockdale and Newton
Counties on its way to Lake Jackson. Like the South and Chattahoochee Rivers,
the Yellow winds through some heavily populated areas, yet shows far less wear
and tear than other urban rivers. Portions of the Yellow contain a good bit of
trash and sometimes a faint smell of chlorine taints the air, but overall, the
Yellow is a fine stream for most species of fish and an entertaining place to
chunky Yellow River largemouth and a few carbon copies fell prey to a
spinnerbait on a late-June float.
Largemouth are the primary bass species, but spotted bass (illegally introduced
to L. Jackson in the 1990's) are slowly discovering the Yellow and can appear as
far upstream as the dam below GA 81 at Porterdale. The dam, by the way, requires
a pretty tough portage around the right, across someone's property, and to the
base of the shoals, which are Class II when there's enough water to run them.
The best idea is to make GA 81 the end of your trip rather than the beginning.
Another dam exists just downstream of GA 20 in Milstead. It may be possible, but
there is no safe way to portage this dam. It is possible to access the river
below the dam off Yarbrough Rd. but this is a lot of work and the neighborhood
here is rather rough. On the bright side, the two dams provide great fishing
opportunities on the upstream sides, and current is usually minimal.
the...? This nice yellow perch didn't want the bass to eat all the spinnerbaits,
so he ate one too! Hmmm...wonder how the ice-fishing is on the Yellow?
The Yellow provides good fishing for crappie, hybrid and white bass in the
spring from Lake Jackson all the way up to Porterdale. The whites and hybrids
don't seem to stack up in the thousands like they do in some other rivers this
time of year, but the action is usually steady. Bream (mostly redbreast and
bluegill) and catfish populations are excellent on the Yellow, and if you catch
a species of fish you've never seen before, it may just be a yellow perch (see
picture). I was unaware that yellow perch existed this far south, but apparently
I was wrong!
The Yellow is generally runnable
downstream from the Conyers area, and there are lots of launch points ranging
from very easy to darn near impossible. Make sure you do your homework before
floating the Yellow and try not to have a dam in the middle of your float trip.
Other than a few logjams, the dams are the only real obstacles on the Yellow.
The only serious rapids lie just below the dams, and these aren't too bad unless
the river is really high. Most any type of river craft will work on the Yellow,
including small motorized boats. Despite it's name, the Yellow usually runs
green and fairly clear, although it does get yellow after heavy rains. The
Yellow stays rather intimate through most of it's course, only exceeding 60 or
so feet in width near Lake Jackson and upstream of the dams.
The Yellow is living proof that great rivers can coexist with lots of people.
The fishing is pretty darn good and the Yellow is convenient for a large number
of people. One indicator of the Yellow's health is the presence of redeye bass
in some upper sections of the river. I was surprised and heartened to catch a
few while researching the Yellow and hope that there are a few redeyes left in
the South River, too. The Yellow has proven to be a fun river to explore and a
very pleasant surprise where the fishing is concerned!
Note: Be careful when floating the Yellow upstream from Yellow River Park in
Gwinnett County. There are some Class III rapids between Highway 78 and the
picture was taken below the dam at Milstead downstream of GA 20. If you reach
this spot on a float trip, you are either dead or your hospital room has a
computer in it. There's no good way around this dam!