The Southeast’s Appalachian’s provide a perfect, affordable and highly productive winter trout destination. Be ready to go, watch the weather, and book a guide. The best waters are lightly fished and hungry trophy size trout are not that unusual
Take Georgia, for example:
“You can find great trout fishing opportunities here in Georgia, whether on a delayed harvest stream or otherwise,” said John Lee Thomson, Wildlife Resources Division trout stocking coordinator. “The advantage of the five designated delayed harvest streams, open November 1 through May 14, is that they have special catch-and-release regulations and are stocked monthly by Wildlife Resources Division and our partner, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This combination of stocking and catch/release allows for good trout catch rates and high angler satisfaction. Furthermore, the current low flow conditions we are experiencing in North Georgia will make wading easier than in past years.”
Taking a look at Georgia’s opportunities reflects on the whole Southeast’s trout fisheries.
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 downstream of Unicoi Lake (Unicoi State Park).
Chattahoochee River in Atlanta (Sope Creek, downstream of Johnson Ferry Road, downstream to the Hwy 41 bridge).
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.
“Anglers fishing these delayed harvest streams should remember that these five streams are restricted to artificial lures with one single hook,” Thomson adds. “When May 15 rolls around, the general regulations to designated trout water apply.”
In addition to the excellent winter fishing opportunities that these delayed harvest streams provide, other Georgia streams offer ample trout fishing opportunities as well:
Noontootla Creek Watershed: This watershed offers high-quality fishing for wild brown and rainbow trout, with many of its tributaries offering a chance at a wild brook trout. Both Noontootla and its tributaries are managed under an artificial lure only regulation and have a 16” minimum size limit 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 trout fishing by reservation (706-878-3087). All fish caught here must be released immediately and anglers can 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 rain muddies the water.
Chattahoochee River: For good trout fishing close to metro Atlanta, the Chattahoochee River downstream of Buford Dam offers family-friendly fishing for stocked rainbow and wild brown trout. The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area parks offer good bank, wading and boating opportunities. 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. Anglers should note that there is an artificial lure only section between Ga. Hwy 20 and the Medlock Bridge Boat Ramp. Best fishing is at low flow when the river is clear to slightly stained.
Some additional notable trout streams include the Toccoa River downstream of Lake Blue Ridge, Tallulah River, and the Chattooga River
Anglers must possess a current Georgia fishing license as well as a trout license to fish for these beauties. By purchasing a license as well as fishing equipment and related items, you and your fellow anglers have helped fund sports fish restoration programs for years, thanks to the Sport Fish Restoration Act. This Act allows funds accumulated from a federal excise tax on fishing equipment and related items to be directed to activities that benefit recreational anglers. A portion of these funds is provided to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources based on several factors, including the number of paid sporting licenses. Sport Fish funds make the following activities possible: managing sport fish populations, raising freshwater fish in hatcheries and stocking them in public waters, maintaining and operating public fishing areas and building boat ramps and fishing piers, and much more!
For free Georgia trout stream maps, trout fishing tips, and other trout fishing information. . . .
NOTE: Featured image is winter fly fishing in North Carolina’s Smoky Mountains on the famed Nantahala River. Nominated as Trout Unlimited’s Top 100 rivers in the US. You can expect 2,500- to 3,00 willing trout per mile.
Where can you get a Georgia fishing license? Or buy it by phone at 1-800-366-2661.
Quantified Guide Referrals:
Chad Bryson… fishes out of a jet boat (Chattahoochee River) far from the madding crowd. Completely portable.
Henry Cowen… one of the Southeast’s top guides – all species. Fishes out of a skiff or lake capable boat.
The Fish Hawk, Atlanta’s biggest and best fly shop. They have a great list of vetted guides.