Understanding Regulations and Requirements

Trout Fishing

Georgia's trout streams are either open to fishing year-round or during trout season, depending on their designation.

  • Trout season (for seasonal streams):  opens March 30, 2013 - closes October 31, 2013
    (Note: trout season is open from the last Saturday in March through October 31 each year)

Download a printable map and see the seasonal and year-round trout streams listed by county.

License Requirements

To fish in designated trout waters and to fish for or to possess trout you need:

Georgia Residents:

  • Ages 16 - 64: Georgia resident fishing license and trout license.
  • Resident Senior (65+) lifetime and Honorary license holders: not required to possess a trout license.
  • Landowners and their immediate families: may fish on their premises without a trout license.

Nonresidents:

  • All nonresidents, 16 years and older, regardless of physical condition: must possess a nonresident fishing license and nonresident trout license. 

Georgia State Park Visitors: not required to possess a trout license to fish in the impounded waters of the park.  If you fish for or possess trout you must have a trout license in your possession.

Minimum Length Limits

No minimum length limit except the following streams:

  • Waters Creek - brown and rainbow trout - 22 inches; brook trout - 18 inches.
  • Noontootla Creek and its tributaries on Blue Ridge WMA - 16 inches.
Daily Creel and Possession Limit
  • Brook, Brown, and/or Rainbow trout statewide - 8
  • Amicalola Creek, Chattahoochee River, Smith Creek, Chatooga River, Toccoa River - see Delayed Harvest Streams below.
  • Waters Creek - 1 (you can harvest no more than three (3) trout per season).
Trout Fishing Hours
  • Fishing hours on seasonal trout streams, except Waters Creek, are from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset (see sunrise/sunset tables at start of Fishing on this web site). Night fishing is not allowed.
  • Fishing 24 hours a day is allowed on year-round trout streams, except those in the paragraph below, and on all impoundments on trout streams, except Dockery and Rock Creek lakes.
  • Fishing hours on the Chattahoochee River from from Buford dam to Peachtree Creek, the Conasauga River watershed upstream of the Georgia-Tennessee state line, and Smith Creek downstream of Unicoi dam are from 30 minutes before sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset. Night fishing is not allowed.
Trout Fishing Rules
  • Trout anglers are restricted to the use of one (1) pole and line which must be hand held.  No other type of gear may be used in trout waters.
  • Live bait-fish may not be used in any trout stream.  Seining bait-fish is not allowed in any trout stream.
  • Only artificial lures may be used on streams designated as "artificial lures only". It is unlawful to possess any other type bait on an "artificial only" stream.
  • It is unlawful to fish for any fish species in a seasonal trout stream when the season is closed.
Impoundments on Trout Streams

Anglers can:

  • Fish for fish species other than trout without a trout license, except on Dockery and Rock Creek lakes.
  • Fish year-round, except on Dockery Lake.
  • Fish at night, except on Dockery and Rock Creek lakes.
  • If you fish for or possess trout, you must possess a trout license.  If you catch a trout and do not possess a trout license, you must release the trout immediately.
  • Visitors fishing impoundments on State Parks can fish for  trout without a trout license.  To possess a trout, visitors must have a trout license.  State Park visitors fishing trout streams must possess a trout license.
Special Trout Stream Regulations

While fishing specially regulated waters with a minimum size limit, it is a violation for an angler to possess a trout which is less than the specified minimum size regardless of where the fish was caught (tips on releasing fish). The following trout streams and portions of trout streams have special management programs and regulations to provide anglers a variety of trout fishing opportunities:

Delayed Harvest Streams

Anglers fishing delayed harvest streams must release all trout immediately and use and possess only artificial lures with one single hook per lure from November 1 - May 14 annually. The use of additional "dropper" lures on one line is permitted as long as each lure contains one single hook. These restrictions do not apply from May 15 - October 31 of each year. The following streams are delayed harvest streams:

  • Amicalola Creek from County Road 192 (Steele Bridge Road) downstream to Georgia Highway 53.
  • Chattahoochee River from Sope Creek downstream to Highway 41
  • Chattooga River in Rabun County from Georgia Highway 28 upstream to the mouth of Reed Creek
  • Smith Creek on Unicoi State Park from Unicoi Dam downstream to the Unicoi State Park property boundary.
  • Toccoa River from 0.4 miles above Shallowford Bridge upstream to a point 450 feet upstream of the Sandy Bottom Canoe Access.

A  Delayed Harvest Program information sheet has been developed to help explain the program and offer some tips for enjoying the DH streams. 

Artificial Lures Only Streams

In streams listed below, only artificial lures may be used.  It is unlawful to possess any other type of bait on an artificial lures only stream.

  • Chattahoochee River from Georgia Highway 20 to the boat ramp at the National Park Service Medlock Bridge Park immediately upstream of Georgia Highway 141

Note: The Chattahoochee River, within the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, from Buford Dam to Peachtree Creek is closed to any use at night (30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise). Anyone in or on the river between Buford Dam and Georgia Highway 20 bridge must wear a personal flotation device (life jacket).

  • Coleman River and its tributaries from its junction with the Tallulah River upstream to Forest Service Bridge No. 54
  • Conasauga River and its tributaries (except Jacks River watershed) upstream of the Georgia-Tennessee state line are restricted to using only artificial lures from November 1 through the last Saturday in March each year. Natural baits may be used during trout season.
  • Hoods Creek and its tributaries on the Warwoman Wildlife Management Area.
  • Jones Creek and its tributaries on the Blue Ridge WMA
  • Mountaintown Creek and its tributaries upstream of Mountaintown Creek Watershed Structure No. 2 (Hills Lake)
  • Noontootla Creek and its tributaries on Blue Ridge WMA.
  • Stanley Creek and its tributaries on the Rich Mountain WMA.
  • Walnut Fork Creek and its tributaries on the Warwoman WMA.
Other Special Regulation Streams
Moccasin Creek

That portion of Moccasin Creek between the Lake Burton Hatchery water intake and a sign marking the approximate normal pool level of Lake Burton is open to fishing year round, but restricted to anglers under 12 years of age and Georgia Honorary license holders.

Smithgall Woods - Dukes Creek Conservation Area

Dukes Creek and its tributaries within the Dukes Creek Conservation Area are open to fishing year-round by reservation only. To make a reservation call 706-878-3087.

  • Only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used or possessed on the portion of Dukes Creek and its tributaries in White County on the Conservation Area, including the Georgia Highway 75 Alternate right-of-way. Possession of any bait, lure, or gear not legal for use on the stream is unlawful.
  • All fish caught from Dukes Creek and its tributaries in White County on the Conservation Area, including the Georgia Highway 75 Alternate right-of-way, must be immediately released where caught.
  • No trout may be possessed while fishing on any stream on the Conservation Area or the Georgia Highway 75 Alternate right-of-way.
Waters Creek

Waters Creek is located on the Chestatee WMA is managed for trophy trout.  Waters Creek and its tributaries are open during the trout season on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday only between 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (7:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Saving Time) with the following restrictions:

  • Artificial lures with a single barbless hook no larger than a #6 must be used. Only one lure can be used at a time. You cannot possess lures that do not meet these criteria while on the area.
  • Landing nets may not exceed two (2) feet in length.
  • Possession of any bait, lure, landing net, or gear not legal for use on the stream is unlawful.
  • No night fishing.
  • Size Limits: 22 inches for brown and rainbow trout and 18 inches for brook trout.  You cannot possess a trout smaller than these limits while fishing on Waters Creek.
  • Possession Limit: 1 trout may be possessed daily.  No person may take more than 3 trout per trout season.
  • License requirements for Waters Creek:
    • Residents: Georgia resident fishing license, trout license, and WMA license. Senior (65+) lifetime, Honorary, and Sportsman's license holders do not need a WMA license to fish Waters Creek.
    • Nonresidents:  Nonresident Georgia fishing license, nonresident trout license, and nonresident WMA license. Florida residents more than 65 years or age must possess nonresident and trout and WMA licenses.
Dawson Forest & Rich Mountain

Anglers fishing Dawson Forest (North of GA hwy 53) or Rich Mountain (Cartecay Tract) must possess a WMA Stamp or GORP License to fish for trout in these areas.






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