Tops For Georgia Trout

Here's a rundown of Georgia's best trout fishing opportunities for 2003.

Brad Bailey | March 1, 2003

Good news for Georgia trout fishermen! There are nearly 1.2 million trout swimming in state hatchery runs awaiting the 2003 trout season.

“It is looking very good,” said Hal Chestnutt, superintendent of the Lake Burton Hatchery. “We have had a good growing season and have produced 80,000 more trout above the proposed numbers. All the streams will be stocked, and we should have a good opening weekend.”

Editor’s Note: Georgia not longer has a trout season as all streams are year-round, although some have special delayed-harvest regulations.

While the trout-stocking numbers for most streams will be about the same as last season, there are a couple of notable changes in where the trout will be released.

The Buford Dam tailrace, traditionally the most-heavily stocked stream in the state, will again be No. 1 — but with fewer trout. In previous years, approximately 250,000 fish have gone into the Chattahoochee River below Lake Lanier. This year, 175,000 trout will be released. The adjusted numbers are the result of studies by WRD Fisheries that determined two things about the fishery in the Buford Dam tailrace:

First, many anglers here are catch-and-release anglers. Many of the trout are caught more than one time.

Second, natural reproduction of trout has bolstered the fishing in the Chattahoochee River.

The upshot is that anglers won’t notice the reduced numbers, and the fish that had been allocated for the Chattahoochee can be released elsewhere.

For instance, the number of trout released in the Lake Hartwell tailrace will be doubled this year, from 12,000 to 24,000 fish. South Carolina Fisheries will also increase the number of trout they stock in the Hartwell tailrace.

For bigger-than-stocker-sized trout, your odds improve in the delayed-harvest streams and at the Lake Hartwell tailrace.

“We think we have enough fishing pressure to take advantage of the increased number of trout,” said Hal.

With more fish, and a few bigger-sized trout (12-inch fish) stocked by South Carolina, the Hartwell tailrace will be one of the improved trout fisheries this spring and summer. Other best bets include:

Best Georgia Trout Fishing For Kids

If you have a kid who you would like to take fishing, you need two things: a stream with a lot of trout, and easy access for a beginner. In that category, you have a number of choices. Hal recommended the Tallulah River in Rabun County.

“The Tallulah River is one of the more popular trout streams,” he said. “It gets more fish, and it is easily fished.”

Wildcat Creek, also in Rabun County, gets the nod for good road access, good creek-side access, and relatively open water for a beginning angler.

On the western side of north Georgia, Holly Creek on the western side of Cohutta WMA is a great destination to take a kid trout fishing for the same reason.

Farther south, Stamp Creek on Pine Log WMA gets good numbers of stockers in the area near the WMA checking station. There are good access trails and plenty of parking.

The state operates Mocassin Creek in Moccasin Creek State Park on Lake Burton as a special-use trout stream. The seasonal trout stream is open only to kids under 12, and honorary license holders (over 65 years or disabled). While the stream is heavily stocked, the downside is that this fishing area is only about 200 yards long, it is adjacent to a camping area, and it gets hit hard.

Best For A Quick Limit Of Georgia Trout

All the above-mentioned streams, because they are heavily stocked, qualify as a good bet for a quick eight-trout opening day.

Other good streams include the Chattahoochee River just north of Helen, Coopers Creek in Coopers Creek WMA, and Rock Creek in Fannin County. All three have good road access, they are relatively easy to fish, and they get plenty of stockers.

Best Georgia Trout Lakes

If you would like to catch trout from water that isn’t moving, the state stocks several lakes with trout. Among the best, according to Hal, are Nancytown Lake in Habersham County, Dockery Lake in Lumpkin County, Lake Winfield Scott in Union County, and Rock Creek Lake. Worms or corn on a split-shot rig fished on the bottom are a good bet to catch trout in a lake.

Best For Brook Trout

If you would like to attempt to catch a brook trout, you’ll likely have to do a little hiking. The state hasn’t stocked brook trout in years, and the most likely place to find them will be in the tiny, high-elevation, headwater streams. According to Hal, several streams on Warwoman WMA hold brook trout, including Holcomb Creek. The headwaters of the Chattahoochee River is also a good bet.

Best Bet For Bigger Trout

The state does not stock many trout larger than stocker size of nine to 10 inches, with one exception. Approximately 100 brown trout and 100 rainbow trout in the 3-lb. range will be stocked through the season in Waters Creek, located on the Chestatee WMA. Special fishing regulations apply at Waters Creek, so check the fishing-regulations booklet.

South Carolina Fisheries’ cooperative effort to stock the Hartwell tailrace will include good numbers of slightly-larger, 12- to 13-inch rainbows.

The delayed-harvest (DH) streams: Smith Creek on Unicoi State Park, the Amicalola River on Dawson Forest WMA, the Chattahoochee below Sope Creek in Atlanta and the DH section of the Chattooga, contain a higher percentage of bigger fish than most streams. Trout caught in those streams must be released until May 15, after which state creel limits apply.

Bigger water tends to hold bigger trout, and there is no bigger trout stream than the Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam. Because it is heavily stocked, 10-inch fish are the norm, but each year a number of trophy-class browns are caught here. A big nightcrawler bumped along the bottom in some of the deep holes above Hwy 20 is a good big-trout tactic. Note that from Hwy 20 to Medlock Bridge Park the Chattahoochee River is an artificials-only area. Note too that because the Chattahoochee below Buford Dam is a year-round stream, it has already been stocked with 10,000 trout. The DH section received 2,500 trout in late February. Both sections are a good bet for good fishing ahead of the seasonal trout stream opening day. Other streams that fall into this category include Rock Creek and the Tallulah River.

Another honey-hole for good numbers of trout will be the Chattahoochee River below Morgan Falls dam and above the delayed-harvest section, which begins at Sope Creek. As part of a trout survival study, beginning in May 50,000 trout will be stocked in this area through the season.

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