Proposed Changes To Trout Fishing Regs

Size restrictions would be removed for Waters Creeks, change in dates and additions for delayed-harvest streams.

Mike Bolton | July 11, 2023

DNR is looking for input from fishermen on several proposed changes to trout fishing in the state.

One of the most notable proposals that is raising eyebrows is the dropping of size limits on Waters Creek in Lumpkin County. The well-known trophy trout fishing spot currently has an 18-inch minimum length limit on brook trout, a 22-inch minimum length limit on rainbow trout and a 22-inch minimum length limit on brown trout. The proposal is to remove the size limits on that creek altogether.

“Waters Creek was an incredible trophy fish location in the late 1980s and early 1990s,” explained John Lee Thomson, the trout stocking coordinator at the Lake Burton fish hatchery. “To have a trophy-trout location, you need two things, and we had them then. We had a full-time person that lived at the site who provided 24-hour surveillance, and that person also ran our feeding program. We didn’t have that anymore. Without those elements, there were no trophy fish left.”

Scott Robinson, DNR’s Chief of Fisheries, said there was also another problem that led to the demise of Waters Creek as a trophy-trout fishing location—otter depredation. Thomson agreed.

“Once otters find a resource, they are not going to leave until every single fish is gone,” Thomson said.

Another proposal the DNR is seeking public comment on is to change the dates of the delayed-harvest season on four of the five trout streams that currently have that restriction by moving the season two weeks earlier. The proposal would also add portions of two new streams to the delayed-harvest regulations.

Currently, the delayed harvest season on sections of Amicalola Creek, the Chattahoochee River, Chattooga River, Smith Creek and Toccoa River is Nov. 1 to May 14. The proposal is to change the delayed-harvest season to Oct. 15 to April 14. The Chattooga River would be excluded from the proposed change in delayed-harvest dates. In addition to the five water bodies listed above, Waters Creek, upstream of its confluence with Dick’s Creek, and Raccoon Creek, from the Norfolk Southern railway crossing upstream to the Silver Comet Trail, would be added to delayed-harvest regulations.

Moving the delayed harvest season two weeks sooner will allow visiting trout anglers taking advantage of the fall foliage season to fish without hurting the resource. The delayed-harvest season is catch-and-release only. During the delayed-harvest season, trout fishermen may only use artificial lures with single hooks so fish may be released unharmed, Thomson said. The change would also allow those anglers who want to harvest trout to do so two weeks earlier before colder weather sets in, he said.

Members of the public may comment on these proposed changes electronically by email through the Division website, by telephone (706.557.3305), or by submitting written statements by close of business on July 28, 2023. Written statements should be emailed to [email protected] or mailed toDepartment of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Division, Atten: Fisheries Management Section, 2067 U.S. Highway 278 S.E., Social Circle, GA 30025.

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