Beginning on November 1, anglers should head to north Georgia for fishing in one of the five delayed harvest trout streams, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division.
“Trout streams are designated as seasonal, year-round or delayed harvest, with different streams offering varying populations of rainbow, brown and brook trout,” said John Lee Thomson, Wildlife Resources Division trout stocking coordinator. “The delayed harvest streams, which have special regulations from November 1-May 14, are regularly stocked from Wildlife Resources Division and from our partners in conservation U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Trout are catch and release, which makes for high-catch rates and angler satisfaction.”
The five trout streams managed under delayed harvest regulations are:
- 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.
“Remember, during delayed harvest, these streams are catch and release only and are restricted to artificial lures with one single hook,” Thomson adds. “When May 15rolls around, the general regulations to designated trout water apply.”
In addition to the excellent fall fishing opportunities that these delayed harvest streams provide, other Georgia streams offer ample year-round trout fishing. These streams are:
- Noontootla Creek Watershed: This watershed offers 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 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 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, year-round fishing for stocked rainbow, brown trout 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. Best fishing is at low flow when the river is clear to slightly stained.
- Some additional notable year-round 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 and a trout license to fish in designated trout waters. Where can you get a license? Buy it online or find a list of retail license vendors at www.georgiawildlife.com/licenses-permits-passes or buy it by phone at 1.800.366.2661.
By purchasing a license as well as fishing equipment and related items, you and your fellow anglers have helped fund sport 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 boats and fishing piers, and much more!
For free Georgia trout stream maps, trout fishing tips and other trout fishing information, visit www.georgiawildlife.com/Fishing/Trout .