Cooper Creek And Rock Creek Trout
These put-and-take trout holes offer plenty of Georgia stockers.
There’s good news if you like the taste of fried trout and hush puppies. You can fill your plate and don’t need a $200 set of neoprene waders and a box of fancy fly-fishing equipment to do it. In fact, it doesn’t take much more than the price of a fishing license and a trout stamp to pile up a limit of eight north Georgia trout this summer. Just rely on Kevin Sorrow’s back-to-the-basics trout-fishing method.
Kevin, from Covington, with his faded bluejeans and worn-out Rocky hunting boots, can be found on any given weekend during the summer knee-deep in the cool, gentle waters of Rock Creek and Cooper Creek. If he walks away with anything less than a limit, there’s either been a flood or the fish-stocking truck is late.
Rock Creek, located in the eastern portion of Fannin County, flows out of Rock Creek Lake on Blue Ridge WMA and flows north until it reaches the Toccoa River. There are several miles of creek, both easily accessible and out-of-the-way, that are available to trout anglers.
Cooper Creek, situated just across the Lumpkin County line, flows from Lake Winfield Scott and runs west through Coopers Creek WMA before finally dumping into the Toccoa River.
Kevin has been fishing both these creeks for the past 15 years. His simple method for catching a limit of trout hasn’t changed.
“Corn and crickets are my two main baits,” said Kevin. “That pink-colored Powerbait works good, too. I’ll usually try to take three baits with me just to see what the fish want, but normally when the water is clear and the fish are there, corn will work better than anything else.”
About the only artificial bait Kevin will use is a wet fly. Flies that look like a hellgrammite seem to work best for him.
Whether Kevin is using corn or a wet fly, you’ll find him using the same fishing tackle all summer long.
“I like a flyrod with a spinning reel on it,” said Kevin. “It has so much action that I can flip or lay the bait right in those difficult areas without having to cast, like you would with a shorter spinning rod.”
Kevin uses an inexpensive 7 1/2-foot Cortland flyrod with a Shimano spinning reel.
“Another good thing about the flyrod is you can keep the line tight,” said Kevin. “A lot of times when people go to scoop a fish up, the fish will get slack, but with a flyrod you hold it up just a little bit and it keeps tension on the fish the whole time.
“The drawback is that the flyrod doesn’t have guides like a normal spinning rod. It has little hoops for fly line. It’s not designed for monofilament. When the line gets wet it sticks to the rod, but I trade that for the advantages.”
Kevin fishes a No. 8 short-shanked Eagle Claw hook equipped with the baitholders.
“Those little barbs on the back of that hook help the corn stay on the hook in the current,” he added.
A normal day of trout fishing for Kevin starts with a campout the night before. Along the banks of Rock and Cooper creeks, you’ll find plenty of primitive-camping areas.
Kevin will wake up, have a filling breakfast over the fire, pack some Beenie Weenies and crackers and hit the stream. He’ll pack up with plenty of corn, fill up his cricket holder and make plans to stay in the water until nearly dark.
“I’ve found that a fanny pack is perfect for that type of fishing, especially when you plan to be out all day,” said Kevin. “A lot of people wear a vest, but those will get nasty. When you keep a fish, the slime gets all over your back. They make fishing fanny packs that are lined. The one I got came from Kmart for nine bucks.”
Kevin said he mostly fills his fanny pack with trout from areas of the creek along the road, in places where the hatchery truck dumps out trout.
“The stream is stocked for the opening weekend of trout season and we quit around Labor Day,” said WRD Fisheries biologist Lee Keefer. “Those creeks are stocked on a weekly basis, and the day of the week will vary at random.
“In Rock Creek we’re talking about roughly 50,000 stocked trout a season, and in Cooper Creek we’re talking about 48,000 fish. However, the numbers vary on how things go in the hatchery. If we have a surplus of fish, it’ll add a few more and if other things happen it could wind up a few less.”
Lee said the vast majority of the fish stocked in Cooper and Rock will be rainbows. In fact, if you catch a brown from one of these streams take a picture. It won’t happen often. Brown trout are saved for other areas like the Chattooga River and the Chattahoochee tailrace. If there’s some left over, then other streams will get a sprinkling of them throughout the year. So, where do all the rainbows get dumped in?
“Basically, the places where we can get close to the creek with the truck will get stocked on both those creeks,” said Lee. “On Cooper that is around the Mulky and Cooper Creek Recreational areas.” These areas are easily accessible from Hwy 60 on Mulky Gap Road right across the Lumpkin County line.
“On Rock Creek, we’ll stock around the hatchery and all around the campground,” said Lee. These areas are also accessible from Hwy 60. Look for USFS Road 69 heading south into Blue Ridge WMA. This road will take you right to the campground area. Continue several miles past the campground, and you’ll arrive at the hatchery.
These easily-accessible areas produce plenty of fish for Kevin, but after a while the crowds get old, and he’ll leave these areas and start fishing more remote places.
On Rock Creek, the area where the creek juts away from the campground and quits paralleling the road heading west is a long stretch of remote fishing. Most of the fish in this area have been in the creek a good while, after being washed down from the hatchery. Kevin said there are some beautiful holes in there that see very little pressure.
Also, from the check station south to where the bridge crosses the creek on the northern end of the camping area receives light traffic. You will find some fish in that stretch that get washed down from the camping area.
At Cooper Creek, there’s several areas along the stretch of campgrounds where the creek bends away from the road for just a little ways.
“The area south of Cooper Creek Recreational area down to the bridge gets away from the road a pretty good bit,” said Kevin. “You don’t have the campsites in that stretch, and the fishing pressure is lighter.
“But if you want to get away from everybody, head east from where the bridge crosses Cooper Creek. That’s the most remote stretch of trout fishing on the creek.
“You actually catch fewer fish, but it’s worth it to get away from the big crowds.”
If you’re thinking of taking the family up for a overnight trip by the open fire but don’t like crowds, you might as well look elsewhere.
“They’re both popular areas,” said Lee Keefer with DNR. “The crowds are substantial most of the time and because there’s camping available, it’s another attractant. Both areas offer primitive camping, but in my opinion there’s better camping on Cooper Creek. There’s just more room to maneuver. At Rock Creek, the road is pretty close to the creek in most places, and there’s not as much space. People do camp there, but it does get pretty crowded.”
Another advantage for folks to pick Cooper over Rock would be that there is a bathroom located in the campground, along with drinking water. At Rock Creek, you’re on your own for water and bathroom needs.
At either stream Kevin has no problem catching fish.
“They’re not trophy streams, but you do catch a lot of fish,” said Kevin “You might hook a good one. We have caught some brood trout in there, but it’s a rarity. On an average good day, all day, I’ll catch 20 or 30 regular-sized trout and keep eight.”
Kevin’s last bit of advice if you’re going to tackle these stocker trout this summer and don’t want to spend much money — don’t buy a set of waders. Part of Kevin’s back-to-the-basics trout-fishing plan doesn’t include staying dry. Kevin wears a pair of old bluejeans and some worn-down hunting boots.
“It’s never cold enough during stocking time to need waders,” said Kevin. “You may get a freak cold front, but if that happens I just won’t go fishing.”
Look for Kevin at either Rock or Cooper creeks this summer. He’ll be the one in his wet bluejeans and hunting boots, with a 7 1/2-foot flyrod equipped with a spinning reel and a fanny pack attached to his waist.
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