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Georgia is a state that is rich in natural beauty and in aquatic resources. Here, you will find more than 2,000 acres of public fishing waters, six different hatcheries in warm water in order to promote various fish species, 12,000 miles worth of streams and rivers, 500,000 acres worth of lakes and reservoirs, and 4,000 miles that are just trout streams. As far as fishing goes, Georgia is a real treasure.
You can fish year-round in Georgia with the exception of a few rivers that have a set season. Thanks to Georgia’s beautiful weather, even winter fishing is enjoyable. So, let’s take a look at some of the wonderful fishing opportunities you can find here.
While Georgia has plenty of streams that are ideal for anglers, the streams themselves aren't great for helping with trout production. The soil in Georgia doesn't contain enough calcium to allow trout to flourish in these streams, and because there are so many anglers out there, the Wildlife Resources Division and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service had to step in. These streams are stocked with a variety of trout such as brook, brown, and rainbow, so anglers aren't out of luck. Stocking happens from about March until August. This doesn't mean that all streams are stocked yearly. It is done on an as-needed basis to keep conditions favorable.
With this in mind, there are a number of great locations worth checking out. If you’re an advanced fly fisher, you’d probably be happier with the less stocked streams, to give you that added challenge. Meanwhile, the more heavily stocked streams are excellent for beginners just learning the technique. Be advised that some of these trout streams have set regulations such as artificial lures only.
Here’s a look at some of the top areas for fly fishing in Georgia:
The Toccoa River is divided into two main sections, the lower and upper parts, and quite frankly, both are great for fly fishing. The trout are plentiful in this river and they are deemed as "fiesty", which makes the fishing all the more fun and challenging. If you opt for the lower portion of the river, this can be found from about the Blue Ridge Dam all the way until where the river passes over into Tennessee. Conditions include shoals with plenty of rocks, some rather deep pools, and the fact that it's long. You are able to fish from shore or float along the river if you prefer. It should be noted that the water level can get quite high, which makes wading out of the question. You can fish all year round here and find such varieties as smallmouth bass, brown trout, and rainbow trout.
Meanwhile, the upper portion of the rivers starts at Union County and is really meant to be floated. It does have some rapids, but they are just moderate in size. Again, you'll have problems wading in the upper portion, thanks to the water levels. You'll find the same types of fish in the upper as the lower region. Take note that the upper portion of the river is much more heavily stocked, so you can keep that in mind when planning your visit. Experts recommend using the caddis as your fly no matter where you are on the river.
Many anglers love the idea of a serene and picturesque location, and if that sounds like you, then you'll enjoy the Jacks River. This river can be found in the Cohutta Federal Wilderness Area and WMA. That gives you a sense of just how rugged and remote it is. While it may not be large fish you catch here, it's more about the environment and setting. Keep in mind that it's not easily accessible – you will have to hike to the river's edge to get to it. It should also be noted that on your hike you will likely get wet, so wear your waders right from the start. In fact, the river is really best enjoyed when you are wading. Experts suggest trying spinners, plugs, and various imitation hatches as flies.
The trout you'll find here are brook, brown, and rainbow. The fishing season along this river is from April through to October.
The Chattooga River is a well-known river and is extremely popular with those looking to catch trout. And it's not just anglers you'll find here, it’s also well-known for its white water paddling opportunities. Even though it's beautiful and remote, this one does have a bit more life happening around it. There are wildlife, other tourists and hikers, those enjoying the river, and there are other outdoor activities happening. Typically, the anglers flock to Ellicott Rock, which is found in the upper end of the river. Here is where you'll find a healthy amount of trout, and the boats aren't allowed through here, keeping things quiet and ideal for fishing. Besides trout, there are also redeye bass in this section of the river.
The ideal way to fish this river is by shore or by wading. The fishing season lasts all year long on the Chattooga. When picking your spinners, opt for ones with blades that are silver, gold, firetiger patterns, black, gold and silver, or painted. Just like you would normally do, try to match your fly with the hatch that is happening at that particular time. Experts suggest using egg patterns as well.
The fishing season is one that runs year-round in Georgia, but with that said, there are times that are better than others. If you're fishing for trout, the season is from mid-March through October or November. Summer will obviously be the busiest and it tends to get quite hot, which can be uncomfortable for anglers. What this means is that spring and fall are the ideal times to visit. The fish will be spawning and running at different times of the year, so it’s also important to keep that in mind as you plan your trip.
Many anglers prefer to plan their visit around the hatch season, and if that's the case, you'll be pleased to know that in Georgia there are hatches taking place all year round. The busiest months are from April through August, but there are still hatches taking place in the other months. It is recommended that you change up your flies to match with the current hatch season.
When it comes to your fly line, opt for a weight between 5 and 8, as these should be ideal for catching a wide variety of trout. After you know the fly line weight, you need to match up your reel weight and rod weight since they should all balance. The length of your fishing rod is dependent on how far you plan on casting, which takes into account the size of the river, stream, or lake. Opt for eight feet and shorter if you're in a tight space, or nine feet and higher for wider spaces.
During the busy summer months of the fishing season, it's best to match up your flies with the current bug hatch taking place. This means opting for such flies as nymphs, caddis flies, midges, spinners, and such. You can still use these flies at other times of the year too and have success with them. If you're unsure of what to use, take a look around at the insects around that river, stream, or lake and imitate them on your line. Making a stop at a local bait store will also help you pick the best flies.
Georgia gives you the opportunity to fish from shore, wading, on float, or by boat. You’ve got a bit of everything here, making it really interesting for anglers. However, with that said, there are many trout streams that are best fished by wading, so invest in a pair of high quality chest-high waders.
Anyone who is 16 years of age and older and plans to fish in Georgia needs to have a valid fishing license. These licenses last for one year, after which they’ll need to be renewed again. Both residents and non-residents must have a license. This license can be obtained through the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Before you do any fishing, be sure you are well aware of the regulations and any daily limits the state may have on any particular species.
Georgia is a state filled with beautiful scenery, wildlife, landscapes, and bodies of water. It makes for the ideal vacation spot for any fly fisher looking to test their skills and techniques. Even though you can enjoy fishing year-round in this state, spring and fall are usually the best time to visit when it comes to the weather, the fish, and the crowds on the shores and in the water. Whether you like fishing from the shore, wading, or by boat, you’ve got endless options in this fabulous and diverse state.