Trout and Fly Fishing in North Georgia
North Georgia offers plenty of opportunities to find excellent trout fishing throughout the Blue Ridge Mountains and the surrounding foothills of the Southern Appalachians. Here by the Fish North Georgia Shop, we are minutes away from one of the most visited trout streams in North Georgia in Amicalola
Creek. Be sure to swing in and stock up on flies and fly fishing gear before hitting the Amicalola Delayed Harvest in the cooler months, or the Upper Amicalola Creek at the Wildcat Campground which sees year round stocking.
Other nearby trout fisheries in North Georgia are found just to the north of the shop in the towns of Ellijay, Blue Ridge, Dahlonega, and Suches. Each of these towns offer something unique for visiting trout and fly fisherman. Whether you are looking for stocked, wild, or trophy trout, this article can point you in the right direction.
Trout Fishing Ellijay
Many of Georgia’s most productive trout streams run through the town of Ellijay. Because most of the streams are found in the lower elevation valleys and form confluences with much larger streams and bodies of water, the streams tend to get too warm for trout in the summer months causing the bite to wane from July to September. During the cool months the trout fishing is second to none. To the north and west of town, you can find Mountaintown Creek, and the Ellijay River. While the are a few small public access locations on the lower sections of these two trout streams, most of the streams are private access but do boast health populations of trout that can grow big. Big Creek and Turniptown Creek feed
these two larger streams and are also stocked from late fall and into the late spring/early summer. Both of these smaller creeks possess populations of both stocked and wild trout. To the east flows the Cartecay River and its tributaries, as well as the Upper feeder streams of Amicalola Creek.
Cartecay River Trout Fishing
The Cartecay River is stocked heavily between late fall and mid spring. Several sections are open to the public and are heavily visited by locals during this time of year. Alongside the main stretch of the Cartecay River, Clear Creek, Turkey Creek, and Owltown Creek are also stocked in the Spring and Summer months and do offer some public access. The Upper Cartecay and its largest tributary,
Tickanetley Creek, are home to great trophy trout streams found on private land. For anglers looking to test their skills on these larger trout, reach out to our Ellijay Fly Fishing Guides who can get you on the water and teach you how to approach these trophy trout.
Amicalola Creek Trout Fishing
The upper reaches of Amicalola creek run just southeast of town and is stocked just about year-round with less frequent stocking in the summer months. Near the Ami’s confluence with Cane Creek, trout can be found spread throughout much of the water in the large expanse of public land. Further downstream lies one of Georgia’s most visited Delayed Harvest Streams. The Amicalola Delayed Harvest, like the other Delayed Harvest Streams in Georgia, opens at the beginning of November where it is managed as an artificial only, catch and release trout fishery until May the following year. The trout come easy at the beginning of the season but learn their lessons quickly and adjust to the angling
pressure on the creek forcing anglers to step up their game. Use caution when wading in Amicalola creek as the rocks continuously become slicker throughout the winter. Learn more about Georgia’s Delayed Harvest Trout Streams here, to stay on top of the openings, stockings, and regulations.
Trout Fishing Blue Ridge
Blue Ridge offers more trout fishing opportunities than any other mountain town in North Georgia. While there are some notable private water trophy trout streams in the area, the spotlight shines brightest on the prolific wild trout streams, the tremendously popular Toccoa River Tailwater, and the
heavily stocked feeder streams of the Upper Toccoa River upstream of Lake Blue Ridge. Each of these fisheries offers different challenges to anglers but all possess healthy populations of trout. North Georgia Lodging and Cabins are plentiful in every direction around Blue Ridge, so knowing what type of
stream you are looking to fish can be helpful in selecting a location
Blue Ridge Wild Trout Stream Fishing
To the west of Blue Ridge lies the Cohutta Wilderness. The Cohuttas offer some of, if not the best, wild trout fishing in Georgia. The Jacks River is the main attraction for visiting anglers to the Cohutta Wilderness but requires quite the hike to get to the most productive waters. The tributaries of Jacks River, along with the Conasauga River , Upper Mountaintown, and Hickory Creek can keep anglers busy with large numbers of small wild trout with the occasional photo worthy specimen showing up every now and again.
Toccoa River Tailwater Fishing
Flowing northwest from the Lake Blue Ridge Dam, The Toccoa River Tailwater pushes cold water from the bottom of the reservoir to the Tennessee border near McCayesville. This cool water effluent creates a year-round trout fishery that draws anglers from across the Southeastern United States. Floating in a
canoe, kayak, or tube, will give you the most exposure and access to the river as there are only three public access points (Tammen Park, Curtis Switch Park, and Horseshoe Bend Park). Trout are stocked heavily at all three of these access points so shore bound angler don’t need to move too far to find
trout. Crowding can be a problem on the river, especially in the summer months, so finding alternative streams may be beneficial. Boardtown creek, Hemptown creek, and the very popular Fightingtown Creek are tributaries of the Toccoa River Tailwaters that are also stocked and possess populations of wild trout. Fightingtown Creek has the easiest public access location and trout are known to move in and out of the public section of the creek from the touted private sections of water.
Upper Toccoa River Fishing
The Upper Toccoa River is heavily stocked during the cooler months of the year and has its own Delayed Harvest Section around Shallowford Bridge Road. The Delayed Harvest section provides excellent fall fishing but is often inaccessible to wading anglers in the spring due to high water. Floating the river is
again the easiest way to get in front of the most trout as possible, but much more public access is available on the Upper Toccoa River as it winds in and out of public forest land. Rock Creek is one of the most popular trout streams in Georgia and a tributary of the Upper Toccoa. The creek is stocked year-
round and is home the US National Forest Trout Hatchery where all of the trout stocked on Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest land are raised. Get to the river early as fishing holes and campsites fill up fast during the most popular times of year. A Blue Ridge Fly Fishing Guide can teach you the best ways to navigate through these crowded fisheries to find the most success on the water.
Trout Fishing Dahlonega
Dahlonega is the easiest access for many trout anglers around Metro Atlanta and North Georgia. The headwaters of the Chestatee River and Etowah River begin just north of Dahlonega and boast very productive trout fishing. Both the Etowah River and Chestatee River are stocked, but to a much smaller degree compared to their tributaries. Dicks Creek is stocked the heaviest of all the trout streams around Dahlonega and receives stockings throughout the year. Smaller streams such as Boggs Creek, Ward Creek and Cochrans creek are also stocked for most of the year with a small lull during late summer. Wild populations can be found in these smaller tributary streams creating good opportunities for fly fishing in Dahlonega. These wild trout streams are an excellent place for beginner fly anglers to start learning. The low gradient streams and smaller waters simplify wading and casting.
We still recommend going with a Dahlonega Fly Fishing Guide as they will help you get over the larger learning curve you hit upon your introduction into the sport and can pay for themselves with the money saved by understanding what gear is needed and best suited for you. These guides can also get you access to some of the best private water trout streams in Dahlonega where you can target your trout of a lifetime.
Trout Fishing Suches
Suches is nestled in the middle of Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. While hardly even a town, the best headwaters of the Chestatee River, Etowah River, Toccoa River, and Nottely River surround the small area hidden in the mountains. Wild fish of the upper Etowah River and Toccoa River tributaries are the largest draw. While the trout aren’t exactly known for their size, Jones Creek, Noontootla Creek, Montgomery Creek, Anderson Creek, and Coopers Creek have good wild trout populations perfect for novice fly anglers looking to hone their skills. Dry fly fishing is perfect for these streams nine or ten months out of the year. Getting down with a dropper fly can be necessary in the winter when the wild fish don’t seem to be looking up. Coopers Creek, a headwater tributary of the Toccoa River, is stocked heavily much like Rock Creek and Dicks Creek, Forest service roads parallel the creek for miles offering numerous pull offs for anglers to explore for both stocked and wild trout.
Be sure to swing by the Fish North Georgia Shop to get the latest reports before heading out as the trout can get choosy at times, especially during seasons with high angling pressure.
Trout Fishing Helen
Helen is the home of the Chattahoochee River headwater streams. Just about all of the small feeder streams to the Chattahoochee River around Helen are either stocked or possess populations of wild trout. The Hooch itself is stocked within the downtown portions of Helen in the winter months. Moving northward toward the Chattahoochee WMA where it is stocked year-round. Other tributaries such as Low Gap, Jasus Creek, Spoilcane Creek, and Smith Creek are also stocked throughout the year. Smith Creek is home to yet another delayed harvest section just below Unicoi Lake within Unicoi State Park.
Avoiding crowds is the best way to find trout, though this is easier said than done through most of the year. Winter is likely the best time for a visit as fair weather anglers tend to stay home, and the additional stocking that goes on compared to the summer months tends to spread out the angling pressure.
Trout Fishing Clayton
Clayton is tucked away in the Northeast corner of the state. Several notable trout streams are found within a short drive of town, most of which see less pressure than the other trout fisheries in Georgia as they are a bit further from the larger metropolitan areas. The Tallulah River and Chattooga River are the
two larger bodies of water that are stocked and maintain wild populations of trout. Smaller creeks than can be equally productive are Coleman River, Panther Creek, Moccasin Creek, Wildcat Creek, and Warwoman Creek. They are all stocked for majority of the year and provide anglers with a great opportunity to hit the stream and look for wild trout and stocked trout. North Georgia Trout Fishing with Conventional Gear Conventional gear (spinning gear) often means chasing stocked fish here in North Georgia. The key to landing trout is of course putting yourself in front of these stocked trout. This can be incredibly easy or incredibly difficult depending on the time of year. One thing that does remain the same is if you find the fish, they usually are pretty simple to catch. Casting accuracy can be key as the shoreline brush, overhanging rhododendrons, and snaggy bottoms claim many victims every day. The rule for lure selection is easy, KEEP IT SIMPLE! Trout magnets and the always popular inline spinner, such as a rooster tail, are all you really need. Light weighted lures are preferable as these North Georgia streams don’t often have much depth. If you do make it out to the bigger waters, some heavier lures will come in handy when getting down to the lazy trout that see much less pressure.
Before heading out, check the Georgia DNR website for the most up to date regulations, as rules can change from stream to stream.
Fly Fishing North Georgia
North Georgia Fly Fishing offers year round opportunities for anglers across the Georgia Mountains. The warmer climate here in the Southeast does limit some of our lower elevation trout fisheries, but the wild trout laden headwater streams stay fishable all year long. Dry flies are a must have on these streams as our wild trout will be looking to the surface for food from March/April until the end of December. Caddis, stonefly, mayfly, midge, and terrestrial patterns all have their time and season. While blanket (heavier) hatches don’t really occur in Georgia, there seems to always be a cornucopia of bugs coming off the water through much of the year. Spring sees the most of this action with fall having some notable caddis hatches. The winters can be slow and fishing subsurface is the go-to until the first blue wing olives begin to hatch in February.
Fly Fishing for Stocked Trout in North Georgia
Much like with fishing conventional gear, stocked trout fishing is more about finding the trout rather than getting them to bite. The fly angler’s strength is that he can achieve a much more natural drift and reach the tough to get to overhangs and undercuts that other anglers simply can’t. Junk flies (eggs, worms, mop jigs, etc) reign supreme when targeting stocked trout in North Georgia. These flies are highly visible and possess the ability to pull hungry trout from their preferred lie or cover to eat. As the peak of the fishing season sets in, these flies will lose some luster as pressure begins to get to the trout. This is where a fly anglers next advantage manifests, in the ability to finesse skittish trout. While you can normally get away with larger 3x tippet under 95% of circumstances, during these high pressure scenarios 4X,5X, and even 6X paired with smaller flies in the size 16-20 range that imitate more natural prey are a must in order to increase your productivity on the water. It is also best to find your way away from the crowds at these times. An extra mile walked may be the difference between a mediocre day and the best day of the year.
North Georgia Fly Fishing Gear
The list of gear you’ll need for fly fishing North Georgia is simple. A 9’ 5wt rod is the best all around setup for not only trout fishing in North Georgia, but trout fishing anywhere in the world. Avid fly anglers in North Georgia might swear by the additional “fun” of a 3wt or 4wt, but the utility of a 5wt to get the job done and cross species lines is a necessity for anyone looking to dive into the sport. 50-100’ of dacron backing is needed under your 5wt, weight forward floating fly line. This is were spending a bit more will pay off. A good fly line will make a world of difference on the water. Good line on a bad rod setup will out perform bad line on the most expensive set up every day of the week. Next, you’ll want a tapered leader. For North Georgia, a smaller leader (7.5’ 3X) leader will do better when fishing in tight quarters and small streams. If you plan on fishing the larger Chattahoochee River Tailwater closer to Atlanta, a larger leader (9’ 3x) leader will give you more play and utility. At the end of these leaders, we recommend most anglers tie in a tippet ring. These tiny rings make retying and re-rigging much simpler and elongate the life of your leader. From this tippet ring, you will tie on your tippet. We will try and avoid the monofilament or fluorocarbon debate here and just recommend 3X,4X,and 5X tippet. Going heavier will limit your line breaks on back-casts which all beginning anglers will run into plenty of when
starting out. The lighter tippet is only necessary when the trout become finicky during high pressured times of the year. We recommend keeping it simple with fly patterns when starting out.
This article on the best flies for North Georgia will give you the best idea on where to start. North Georgia Fly Fishing Guides can help you with the nuanced mechanics and tactics in fly angling. We recommend reaching out before diving right in as their expertise can save you money and time before diving right into fly fishing. These guides pride themselves on simplifying the fly angling process for their customers all while teaching them about the geology, ecology, and history of our beautiful North Georgia Mountains.