Are trout streams calling you to go fish Georgia? Beautiful weather and fantastic scenery await you in the northern part of the state, and beginning in November, trout fishing on Georgia’s delayed harvest trout streams will be in full swing, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division.
While trout fishing is now year-round in Georgia, delayed harvest streams are managed to increase angler success. John Lee Thomson, the Wildlife Resources Division trout stocking coordinator says “Five trout streams are seasonally managed under special regulations called Delayed Harvest. These DH [delayed harvest] streams have catch-and-release regulations from November 1–May 14, and are stocked monthly by WRD and other partner agencies like the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and South Carolina DNR. This combination of stocking and catch/release allows for good trout catch rates and high 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 (stocking currently delayed-see note below; 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.
“During delayed harvest, anglers on these five streams also are restricted to single hook, artificial lures” Thomson explains. “When May 15 rolls around, the general regulations to designated trout waters then apply.”
As the 2020–2021 delayed harvest season begins, Thomson also wants trout anglers to note one exception from the typical DH stocking regimen, “To kick off delayed harvest season this year, catchable trout can be caught in the delayed harvest sections of Amicalola Creek, Smith Creek, Chattooga River, and the Toccoa River. Due to the US Army Corps of Engineers’ need to lower Lake Lanier’s water level for dam repairs, and the associated high flows in the Chattahoochee River below Morgan Falls Dam, we will not stock the Chattahoochee River delayed harvest section until fishable conditions return to the river. Please subscribe to our weekly stocking list to receive a weekly notification about which delayed harvest streams have been stocked.”
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 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 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, which reduces water clarity and increases trout feeding activity.
- Chattahoochee River: For trout fishing close to metro Atlanta, the Chattahoochee River downstream of Buford Dam offers diverse fishing opportunities, from stocked rainbow trout to trophy wild brown trout. The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area parks offer good bank, wading and boating opportunities. The river will be stocked with rainbow trout throughout the year to keep angler catches high. An artificial-only section exists from Buford Hwy (Hwy 20) to Medlock Bridge. The best fishing conditions are low flow when the river is clear to slightly stained.
- More Locations: Some additional and notable fall trout fishing opportunities exist in 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, fishing equipment, and other 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. Anglers may also purchase a TU vehicle tag to directly contribute to Georgia’s trout management program. Funds from TU tag sales are spent directly on trout feed, trout hatchery equipment, trout stream restoration, and other trout-related expenses. Sport Fish and TU tag 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, fishing piers, and much more!
Where can you get a fishing license? Buy it online or find a list of retail license vendors at www.gooutdoorsgeorgia.com or buy it by phone at 1-800-366-2661.
For free Georgia trout stream maps, stocking lists, trout fishing tips and other trout fishing information, visit www.georgiawildlife.com/Fishing/Trout.