Diverse Winter Fishing Opportunities at Trout Capital & Surrounding Areas

by Ralph Artigliere, Education Director for the Blue Ridge Mountain Chapter; reprinted from the BRM November 2014 Newsletter.

029This year you might want to broaden your fishing horizons by fishing some new streams right here in our backyard or within an easy drive for day-fishing. Georgia fishing regulations provide trout streams that are designated either seasonal or year-round. In addition, special regulation streams provide fly fishermen with terrific opportunities, even in winter. For example, on November 1, fishing on five delayed harvest trout streams will opened, including the Toccoa DH, where the Blue Ridge Mountain Chapter helped stock a half ton of trout (some 3000 fish) on Halloween. Other nearby year-round streams are designated artificial lure, single hook.

Delayed Harvest:

Five year-round streams are managed under special regulations called Delayed Harvest according to John Lee Thomson, Wildlife Resources Division trout stocking coordinator. DH streams are governed by special catch-and-release regulations from November 1-May 14. Delayed harvest effectively means catch and release, single hook only fishing until May 15, after which the fish may be taken under normal trout fishing regulations and limits. The DH streams in Georgia are stocked monthly by the state’s Wildlife Resources Divi-sion and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (prominently from the USFWS Hatchery in Suches in most years). Stocked fish may come from the Buford Hatchery (as they did on Halloween) or any number of other hatcheries in the state and federal system depending on stock available and needs. The combination of stocking and catch/release allows for good trout catch rates and high angler satisfaction accord-ing to Thomson, who was the person who brought us the fish on Octo-ber 31. By observation during the stocking this year, we helped put in rain-bows, browns, and brookies in diverse sizes up to about 17 inches. There were quite a few big fish mixed in.

In all, five Georgia trout streams managed under delayed harvest regulations. They include the afore-mentioned 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); the Chattahoochee River in Atlanta (Sope Creek, downstream of Johnson Ferry Road, downstream to the Hwy 41 bridge); and the Chattooga River (from Ga. Hwy. 28 upstream to the mouth of Reed Creek) on U.S. Forest Service land bordering South Carolina.

Of course, the Nantahala Delayed Harvest section in North Carolina is a favorite that is located an easy hour’s drive north of Blue Ridge. The “Nanny” DH regulations are between October 1st and the first Saturday in June, which means you must treat the designated North Carolina waters as “Catch & Release” and single-hook artificial lures only.

Year-Round Trout Streams:

In addition to the delayed harvest streams, Georgia regulations offer additional, diverse year-round trout fishing, including:

Noontootla Creek Watershed: Noontootla and its tributaries are governed by artificial lure only regulation and have a 16″ minimum size limit. Browns, rainbows, and brookies are present in different streams in the Noontootla Watershed.

Dukes Creek: Located on the Smithgall Woods-Dukes Creek Conservation Area, Dukes Creek pro-vides year-round trout fishing by reservation (706-878-3087). All fish must be released immediately and anglers can only use artificial lures with barbless hooks. There are some big fish providing quite technical fish-ing in Dukes Creek. WARNING: Under the barbless hook requirement, all hooks on your person must be barbless, not just the hooks attached to your line.

Chattahoochee River: The Chattahoochee River downstream of Buford Dam offers year-round fish-ing for stocked rainbow and wild brown trout. Unlike seasonal streams, the Chattahoochee is stocked throughout the fall months. There is an artificial lure only section between Ga. Hwy 20 and the Medlock Bridge Boat Ramp.

Toccoa River: The Toccoa River, including the Tailwater (downstream of the Blue Ridge dam) is a year-round stream. Some tributaries of the Toccoa are closed after October 31, so check the regulations to determine availability of fishing. For example, Stanley Creek is closed.

In Fannin County, year-round trout fishing includes: Conasauga River watershed (except Jacks River watershed); Ellijay River watershed; Fightingtown Creek watershed; Mountaintown Creek watershed; Noontootla Creek watershed; Rock Creek watershed; Rock Creek Lake; Toccoa River downstream from Lake Blue Ridge to the Georgia-Tennessee state line and upstream from the mouth of Stanley Creek (this does not include Toccoa tributaries except as specifically listed as year-round). NOTE: Here are the seasonal streams in Fannin: Charlie Creek watershed; Etowah River watershed; Jacks River watershed; Owenby Creek watershed; Persimmon Creek watershed; South Fork Rapier Mill Creek watershed; Star Creek water-shed; Toccoa River tributary watersheds entering the river downstream from Blue Ridge Reservoir to the Georgia-Tennessee state line and upstream from the mouth of Stanley Creek except those listed as year-round; Tumbling Creek watershed; Wilscot Creek watershed.

Check the regulations for other year-round trout streams like the Tallulah and Chattooga Rivers. In some cases, streams are open in the winter while nearby streams are not. For example, in the Cohuttas, the Jacks River Watershed is closed while the nearby Conasauga is open. Some streams are special regulation, regardless of season.

Special Regulation Streams:

The following trout streams have special regulations- Artificial Lures Only: Coleman River, Conasauga River, Hoods Creek, Jones Creek, Mountaintown Creek, Noontootla Creek, Stanley Creek, Walnut Creek, and portions of the Chattahoochee River. Check the regulations before fishing these streams. As mentioned above, some of these special regs streams are also seasonal. Trout sea-son (for seasonal streams) opens the end of March and closes the end of October each year. Check the regu-lations for exact dates.

Now get out there and find a place to fish!

Pick up a regulations book or access the fishing regulations online at http://www.georgiawildlife.com/fishing/regulations and trout regulations at http://www.georgiawildlife.com/node/1307

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