Guest Article: Finding Trout in North Georgia
Note from TroutRoutes:
This article was written by Tad Murdoch from Georgia Wild Trout. The online website is an incredible resource for visitors and residents alike, trying to navigate the complex but rewarding trout waters of North Georgia. To visit this article in its original form, go here.
The warming temperatures of Spring send a clear sign that it’s time to get back on the stream and begin exploring new water. As insect hatches increase across North Georgia, trout become more active and less selective about what is on the menu. Once summer arrives, trout will be eating with reckless abandon making for the perfect opportunity to explore new streams. Late spring and summer are the best times of year to find your new honey holes. Locating higher densities of trout is easiest from late May into early August when bites are plentiful. You can gather the best feedback on the trout populations that are present in a stream which will pay off during the cold month when bites may be more difficult to come by. Don’t get caught in a rut fishing the same old pieces of water this year. Learn how to explore and find more productive and less trafficked trout streams.
While not all the streams you will visit will be winners, crossing certain streams or sections of rivers off your list of viable water is valuable information as a future time saver. Putting some miles under your boots will separate you from 75% of anglers who rarely travel more than a couple hundred yards from their vehicles. On larger tracts of public land in Georgia, hiking a couple miles into the trout stream will guarantee you some untouched trout. The extra 30-40 minutes of hiking will have a much higher payoff than a 10 minute walk that places you on trout that have seen much more pressure. A similar method to finding less pressured water is to simply drive further from the crowds. This typically means finding stretches further upstream on most pieces of water, but driving past the crowded parking lots, or finding less used access can lead to a more productive and enjoyable day. To find the best public access to each of these streams there are some new tools that make the task easy.
Best Tools to Find the Best Trout Streams in Georgia
As a North Georgia Fly Fishing Guide, I still get asked if there are maps anglers can use to find water. My answer is always the same: most stream or fishing maps of Georgia are grossly outdated along with any information on the fisheries themselves. Unless you are looking for decorations for your house or cabin, paper maps are next to useless. Once Google Maps came around, it became a bit easier to explore creeks and rivers. Google Maps still presented the problem of finding parking, trails, and distinguishing private and public land. Add that to the fact that 95% of these streams are in areas with no cell service almost puts anglers back to square one. Over the last five years it has been helpful to have an arsenal of Apps to help monitor water levels and navigate your way around creeks and rivers. Apps such as All Trails and Cairn made finding trails and your active location much easier even without service. These Apps are still useful for hiking and exploring but luckily a new app has recently come out that will certainly change how anglers find and explore new water. This App is Trout Routes.
TroutRoutes is the best tool to find trout streams in Georgia
Trout Routes it incredibly easy for angler to explore new waters. You can find Forestry Roads that have been left off Google Maps, along with most of the foot trails used in the Cairn and All Trails App. On top of this, Trout Routes can distinguish the difference between private and public land, leaving no questions about where you can and can’t fish. Parking areas are listed on the map as well as campgrounds for those looking to spend a few days in the mountains. The App also outlines any special regulations on the stream, such as Delayed harvest sections, artificial only sections, or minimum size limits/catch and release. For anglers on the big waters, boat ramps are located on the map along with stream gauges. This feature makes tools like the River App obsolete as you can actively monitor the water levels after hard rains and dam releases. Instead of daydreaming about your next fishing trip you can begin planning and making a list of streams to explore.
Once you’ve prospected a location, the first step in exploring new waters is to understand what you are looking for. Wild trout streams are abundant across North Georgia while stocked trout streams are much more limited. Streams that hold trophy sized trout will typically be larger bodies of water while the smaller cascading trout streams of the higher elevations will likely have higher population densities. Stocked streams are listed on the Georgia DNR website along with the stocking schedules. If you are looking to go trout fishing in Ellijay, Blue Ridge, Dahlonega, Blairsville, or Helen, check out our Georgia Trout Fishing Destinations articles to better understand these stocked trout streams around these towns and when they are stocked.
Finding the Best Stocked Trout Fishing in Georgia
Most folks know the popular stocked trout streams in Georgia. Coopers Creek, Wildcat Creek, Dicks Creek, Rock Creek, Moccasin Creek, Soapstone Creek, Smith Creek above Unicoi lake, Soque River, Chattooga River, Toccoa River, and the Chattahoochee Tailwater are house hold names that receive a majority of the fishing pressure in Georgia. While good numbers of stocked trout can be caught from these trout waters on any given day, their consistency can be troubling, and success left to chance. You can improve your odds on any outing by eliminating the stocked water with limited access and focusing on the streams that have enough water for some of the stocked trout to retreat to and use as refuges. This eliminates small public water access such as the Soque, Smith Creek, and Moccasin Creek. Most of the water on Wildcat creek, Soapstone Creek, Rock Creek, and Dicks Creek can be eliminated as well. Each of these creeks do have large public water sections that extend further from the parking lots and pull-offs where majority of the fishing pressure occurs. Exploring these waters will be productive when everything else seems dead. The larger waters (Toccoa, Chattooga, and Chattahoochee) all have sections anglers can hike or drive to that will get them further from the crowds and angling pressure. Find these sections of river and check them out while the conditions are in your favor. You will also begin running into more wild trout on these less visited sections of water, which is a great indicator that there is less pressure in an area.
Finding The Best Wild Trout Streams in Georgia
Finding good wild trout water is much easier than finding consistently productive stocked streams. Many of Georgia’s small blue lines have an abundance of rainbow trout in their upper reaches. Finding wild brown and brook trout can be more difficult as their populations are restricted to only a handful of streams across the state. Some streams are certainly more productive than others though. Deciding what experience you want will dictate the best waters to fish. For anglers looking to spend a full weekend or a long day chasing wild trout. The Cohutta Wilderness offers a great opportunity to find untouched trout and see few, if any, anglers during your visit. The Conasauga and Jacks River are the largest pieces of water here and may offer the best opportunities at better sized trout as well as great numbers of trout. For anglers looking for a shorter trip that is a bit closer to town, the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest has dozens of small streams and blue lines to explore. It takes years and thousands of well spent hours on the water to appreciate and understand each of these streams.
Finding Trophy Trout in Georgia
With the new TroutRoutes App being released in Georgia, it will be easier to find public streams that have the potential to hold trophy trout. Look for pieces of water adjacent to private waters where trout are managed and/or protected with catch and release practices. Look for trout to move into these sections of stream in the shoulder months or during high water. The Trout Routes App can highlight these areas leaving you with the best opportunity to stalk these wandering behemoths.
I hope this article has you ready to explore some new water in the coming months. If you have any other questions, feel free to reach out, we would love to be of any help to our fellow anglers here in North Georgia. If you know where you’re looking to fish, check out our articles on Ellijay Trout Fishing, Blue Ridge Trout Fishing, Dahlonega Trout Fishing, Helen Trout Fishing, and Blairsville Trout Fishing.