Trout-filled mountain streams a winter fishing destination

Wed, 02/18/2009 - 3:41pm
By: The Citizen

The crisp, swift-flowing waters of north Georgia’s rivers and creeks offer an abundance of trout angling opportunities this winter.

Home to some of the Southeast’s finest trout streams and three species of trout — rainbow, brown and brook trout — Georgia claims nearly 4,000 miles of streams, and more than half lie in the northern part of the state in the Chattahoochee National Forest.

Winter is a particularly attractive time of year for anglers to bravely wade the calm, cooler rapids thanks to delayed-harvest regulations. Delayed-harvest streams are regularly stocked and operate under a catch-and-release system, which lends to high catch rates for new and seasoned anglers alike.

“Trout fishing on a delayed harvest stream is a great way to introduce new anglers to the sport,” says John Biagi, chief of Fisheries Management for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division. “Five streams within easy driving distance of many Georgians including Metro Atlanta are available right now.”

The Wildlife Resources Division recommends casting a line at any of the following five delayed harvest trout streams now through May 14: the Toccoa River located on U.S. Forest Service land upstream of Lake Blue Ridge in Fannin County (from 0.4 miles above Shallowford Bridge to 450 feet above the Sandy Bottom Canoe Access); Amicalola Creek on the Dawson Forest Wildlife Management Area (from Steele Bridge Road downstream to Georgia Highway 53); Smith Creek at Unicoi State Park; the Chattahoochee River in Atlanta (Sope Creek, downstream of Johnson Ferry Road, downstream to the Hwy 41 bridge); and a portion of the Chattooga River (from Ga. Highway 28 upstream to the mouth of Reed Creek) on U.S. Forest Service land bordering South Carolina.

On the other hand, anglers anxious to tackle harvestable seasonal streams can prepare for opening day, March 28. Some popular seasonal streams include Cooper Creek in Union County, Wildcat Creek in Rabun County, Dicks Creek in Lumpkin County and Johns Creek in Floyd County.

But, with Georgia’s abundant trout fishing opportunities, including the many year-round streams open to fishing throughout the year, there is no need to wait and no catch-and-release restrictions.

For year-round opportunities, here’s where to go, what to bring and what to expect:

· Blue Ridge Tailwater: This tailwater actually is a stretch of the Toccoa River located downstream of Blue Ridge Lake in Fannin County, and in many trout fishing circles is considered both blue-ribbon trout fishing and Georgia’s best kept secret. Anglers will find good numbers of both rainbow and brown trout, with an occasional trophy-sized fish. Most anglers prefer to float from shoal to shoal and then get out and wade to fish. Ultralight spinning gear and small spinners, such as rooster tails and panther martins, are best bets. Anglers should keep safety in mind - high water and strong currents can occur when the dam’s turbines are on. Keep a close eye on the water level and return to boats immediately if levels begin to rise.

· Noontootla Creek Watershed: This watershed offers some high quality year-round fishing for wild brown and rainbow trout, with many of its tributaries offering a chance at a wild brook trout (a real advantage since most other brook trout waters are closed to fishing after Oct. 31). Both Noontootla and its tributaries are managed under an artificial lure only regulation, and have a 16-inch minimum size limit in order to ‘recycle’ the 8 to 12-inch trout that make up most of the population.

· Dukes Creek: This stream, located on the Smithgall Woods-Dukes Creek Conservation Area offers year-round trout fishing by reservation (706-878-3087). All fish caught here must be released immediately and anglers must only use artificial lures with barbless hooks. The stream offers a chance at a trout greater than 20 inches, so bring a camera for a quick shot before release. The best time to fish is after a rain discolors the water.

· Chattahoochee River: For good trout fishing close to the metro Atlanta area, the Chattahoochee downstream of Buford Dam offers family-friendly and close-to-home, year-round fishing for stocked rainbow trout, brown trout and wild brown trout. Part of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, this location offers good bank, wading and boating access. Year-round harvest is legal from Buford Dam to Sope Creek. Best fishing is at low flow when the river is clear or slightly stained.

Some additional notable year-round trout streams include Holly Creek in Murray County, Tallulah River in Rabun County and Rock Creek in Fannin County.

Download a free Georgia trout stream map and other trout fishing tips from the Wildlife Resources Division Web site at or call (770) 535-5498 for trout fishing information.

Take Me Fishing! According to a recent national survey, 87 percent of Americans believe fishing and boating have a positive effect on family relationships.

Editor’s Note: Take Me Fishing is a national campaign developed by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation. Information about the campaign is available at , select “About RBFF”.


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