Georgia State Park Trout
The author took a break from the south Georgia heat last month and took his wife to the north Georgia mountains to catch state park trout.
As I’m starting to type this story, we’ve officially had our first string of 90-degree days down here in south Georgia. Yes-sir it’s getting hot and in a hurry. If you’re looking to beat the heat, and wouldn’t mind a few nights in a tent, grab the poles, the kids and load up the truck.
The north Georgia mountains offer up some great fishing this month for stocker trout, along with the mildest temperatures we will see again for several months. The even better news is you won’t have to hike 5 miles up steep slopes and crawl under mountain laurel to get a bite.
Georgia has several state parks with great trout fishing opportunities that often get overlooked by anglers. GON reached out to John Lee, who has been Georgia’s trout stocking coordinator since 2012, for his take on some of these unique fisheries.
“We have a few state parks with lakes that we stock with trout, and these are great areas to introduce a kid to trout fishing. It’s a whole lot easier than trying to wade a stream, especially for smaller kids, and you don’t need a pile of fancy tackle to catch them.”
Vogel State Park
One of Georgia’s oldest state parks, Vogel State Park has been in operation since 1931. Located just outside the town of Blairsville, and situated at the base of Blood Mountain, this is the perfect area for a weekend camping/fishing trip to beat the heat this month. The area has a 22-acre lake open to non-motorized boats, so bringing the kayak or canoe might be a good idea. The lake is fed by Wolf Creek that also offers up some great trout fishing opportunities.
“Vogel is unique because it gets stocked in the spring, early summer, and then we turn around and stock it again in the fall. It’s not a big lake, but the fishing can be really good,” said John.
John recommends anglers try fishing off of the lake’s piers and mentioned that the trout tend to suspend at different depths day to day. To target them, he said that a simple inline spinner is hard to beat, as well as a worm under a cork.
“The big thing is to try different speeds when retrieving artificial lures and to experiment fishing different depths when fishing live bait under a cork. After some experimentation, you can usually find some fish willing to bite,” John added.
John also mentioned using the same strategy near the dam, especially if the piers are crowded. The fish tend to suspend a little deeper in this portion of the lake, so a slower retrieve with artificials or a deeper set cork tends to work better with live bait.
“Don’t overlook the mouth of Wolf Creek where it dumps into the lake. You can catch a pile of trout there, too, at certain times, especially in warmer weather,” John mentioned.
Unicoi State Park
Unicoi offers up some fine trout fishing in its on right, along with some beautiful scenery. Located outside of Helen and inside the Chattahoochee National Forest, this state park is home to Lake Unicoi, which is fed by Smith Creek, and Smith Creek is where the trout are.
“I would recommend to anglers fishing Unicoi to focus their efforts in Smith Creek. Some trout hang around in the lake, but we stock the creek really heavily, and that’s where you will have your best chance at catching a limit,” John said.
John went on to add that the creek receives some of the heaviest stockings in the state, and anglers should have success with traditional trout fishing tactics for stockers.
“When fishing Smith Creek, you want to key in on those slack-water spots right off of the main current. Areas behind boulders and slower moving deep holes will harbor fish. They tend to spread out in creeks, so you have to get out and fish for them. But they are there for the taking,” said John.
In Smith, small lures such as inline spinners and tiny minnow plugs are a good bet, as well as the simple but effective offering of a live red wiggler worm on a small No. 8 hook. Pinch on a small split-shot about 10 inches above the worm and pitch this offering into deeper areas for success.
“Also keep in mind that during the winter months the area below the dam at Unicoi will be stocked with trout for our delayed harvest program. Anglers who don’t mind the cooler temperatures later this year would do well planning a return trip to enjoy this excellent fishing opportunity,” said John.
Moccasin Creek State Park
Moccasin Creek State Park offers up the most unique fishing opportunity of this story, especially for those fishing with children. Located outside of Clarkesville, this area sits on the bank of Lake Burton and is home to the park’s namesake, Moccasin Creek.
Moccasin Creek offers up great angling opportunities for anglers 11 and younger, 65 or older, and anglers of all ages who possess a Georgia disability fishing license.
The area receives weekly stockings through the summer, usually all the way to Labor Day, and boasts a fishing pier that stretches out over the creek, making easy access for anglers.
John had this to say about the area when interviewed.
“If you have small children and you’re planning a weekend trip to the mountains, Moccasin Creek is hard to beat. We stock it weekly through the summer, so there is always some fish to catch. The place is also a hit with our older anglers who enjoy kicking back on the pier and catching a few trout for dinner.”
Live bait is the best option fishing from the pier, as well as whole kernel corn, a favorite of hatchery trout. Anglers who prefer to wade alongside of the creek will do well throwing small artificials to slack-water areas.
Black Rock Mountain State Park
Last but certainly not least, Black Rock Mountain State Park is a great destination to load up the kids and head to for a weekend trip. Located outside of Clayton, Black Rock is Georgia’s highest state park at an elevation of 3,640 feet above sea level. Located within the park is 17-acre Black Rock Lake.
Don’t let the lake’s small size fool you though. It receives a large stocking of trout monthly, and bank fishing access is excellent.
My wife and I made a trip to Black Rock when working on this story and had no trouble catching more than enough fish for supper each night we were camping.
“Black Rock is one of those places that somehow manages to fly under the radar. It receives very little fishing pressure when compared to other trout fisheries in the mountains.”
I can echo his statement as the first day we arrived to fish, we had the entire lake to ourselves. We managed to catch several trout for dinner and headed back to camp without seeing a single person. We stayed the entire weekend and fished numerous hours without ever feeling like we were on top of anyone. It was very refreshing to say the least.
When it comes to fishing strategy, John had this to say about the lake.
“Black Rock is a great place to target fish with an inline spinner. There is a good population of trout in the lake, as well as bass and bluegill. You can nearly fish every stretch of bank around the lake, making a spinner a good lure for covering lots of water.”
John went on to say that anglers do well fishing red wigglers under corks, varying their depth adjustment until they find where the fish are holding.
“One side benefit of the trout stocking in the lake is the largemouth bass fishery. They gorge themselves on trout all summer long and grow really well. Numerous fish are caught in the 8- to 10-lb. range each year.”
While we fished along the bank, we saw several bass in the 4- to 7-lb. range in shallow water that were getting ready to spawn, and we managed to catch several 1- to 2-lb. fish on a Rooster Tail. My wife fished a few hours with red wigglers on the bottom and managed to catch a hand-sized bluegill every 15 minutes or so. That made it very tempting for me to put my trout gear down.
I have been blessed to fish in at least 20 of Georgia’s state parks, and I’m here to tell you that Black Rock Lake is one of the very best without a doubt.
Trout Cooked Over The Fire
If there is anything better than catching a trout, it’s eating one. They are simple to clean and cook and make for a camping meal you won’t soon forget.
I remove my trout’s gills and entrails and prefer to cook whole, with the head on. If you don’t like your food looking at you, then remove the head as you would any other fish. Trout have excellent tasting skin, and it is best left on.
After getting the trout cleaned and ready to cook, place in heavy duty foil. Season with salt and pepper and place several slices of butter in pouch. Wrap foil tightly and sit on hot coals (a grill also works fine). There is no magic cooking time as temperature varies, but a good rule of thumb is to take a look at it about every five minutes or so. Cook until meat is flaky, and get ready for one of the best campfire meals you will ever have!
Georgia State Park Reservations
If you go online to book a campsite, you will probably soon see that reservations can be hard to come by in the mountains, especially in the summer months. You can make your reservations at https://gastateparks.reserveamerica.com, and don’t get discouraged too quickly if there is no availability. I have found that normally on Thursday afternoons several people will cancel their reservations, giving you a great chance to snag a camping spot for a last-minute trip to the mountains.
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