North Georgia offers few better ways to observe fall foliage beauty than a trip to a trout-filled delayed harvest mountain stream. With more than 4,000 miles of trout streams and three species of trout, there are fishing and simultaneous leaf-viewing opportunities closer than you think. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division highlights the five delayed harvest streams available to anglers beginning Nov. 1.
“Georgia trout streams are designated as seasonal, year-round or delayed harvest, and different streams offer varying populations of rainbow, brown and brook trout,” says the division’s Trout Stocking Coordinator Perry Thompson. “The delayed harvest streams have special regulations from November 1 – May 14. Since these delayed harvest streams are regularly stocked and the trout are caught and released, catch rates remain high, making them a great destination for new and seasoned anglers alike.”
The five trout streams managed under delayed harvest regulations are 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 Hwy. 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. Hwy. 28 upstream to the mouth of Reed Creek) on U.S. Forest Service land bordering South Carolina.
“Remember, these streams are catch and release only during the delayed harvest season and also are restricted to artificial lures with one single hook from Nov. 1 – May 14,” Thompson adds. “When May 15 rolls around, harvest is allowed under the general regulations pertaining to designated trout water.”
In addition to the excellent fall fishing opportunities delayed harvest streams provide, there also are ample year-round trout fishing opportunities in a number of Georgia streams. These designated year-round streams are open to fishing throughout the year.
Blue Ridge Tailwater: This tailwater is actually 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 caught. 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 it starts 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 plus 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” minimum size limit in order to “recycle” the 8”-12” 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 great chance at a trout over 20 inches, so bring your camera for a quick shot before release. Best time to fish is after a rain discolors the water.
Chattahoochee River: For good trout fishing close to metro-Atlanta, the Chattahoochee River downstream of Buford Dam offers family-friendly and close-to-home, year-round fishing for stocked rainbow and brown trout and wild brown trout. Despite the recent rains, fishing in the Chattahoochee River will continue to be good and Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area parks offer good bank, wading and boating opportunities. Be aware that some National Park Service parks downstream of Morgan Falls Dam are closed due to recent flooding. Contact CRNRA (678-538-1200) to learn about park closures. The river will be stocked through the fall months to keep angler catches high. Year-round harvest is legal from Buford Dam to Sope Creek. Best fishing is at low flow when the river is clear to slightly stained.
Some additional notable year-round trout streams include the Conasauga River, Tallulah River and the Chattooga River.
To download free Georgia trout stream maps and other trout fishing tips, or for additional trout fishing information, visit www.gofishgeorgia.com . Anglers must possess a current Georgia fishing license and a trout license to fish in designated trout waters.
Take Me Fishing! ™ A recent national survey indicated that 87 percent of Americans believe fishing and boating have a positive effect on family relationships. So take your family fishing and you will always have something in common.
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