When planning your outdoor calendar for the year an April a trout fishing adventure to the North Georgia Mountains is a lot of fun. Although trout in Georgia streams don’t rival the size of those in states to the north of us, it is still a lot of fun and a wonderful outdoor excursion for you and your kids or buddies.
Trout fishing in North Georgia is now moving full speed ahead with the seasonal streams having been open since March 31st. Georgia’s trout streams have three major species available including the rainbow, brook and brown.
The state record for rainbow trout is 17 pounds, 8 ounces caught in the Soque River in 2004, the state record for brook trout is 5 pounds, 10 ounces caught in Waters Creek in 1986, and the current record for brown trout is 18 pounds, 6 ounces caught from the Chattahoochee River in 2001.
Early season tactics for trout usually depend on water temperature. They are less active if the water temperatures get below fifty degrees so that’s one consideration. As of now that should not be a problem with the weather we’ve had. It is useful to remember that small streams will warm up faster than will the larger ones. If you encounter high, somewhat muddy water remember that smaller streams will be your best bet because they will clear up faster.
Another tip for early spring time is to think about a slower presentation regardless of the type of bait or lure you are using. Find those places where the water is relatively still but still close to the current line and keep your bait or lure in that vicinity as long as possible.
All the veteran trout fishermen will tell you to cast upstream so that your lure is always working downstream at about the same speed (or slightly slower) as the water flow. Trout are going to be facing upstream looking for their meals as it comes by on the current. They are going to be wary of anything moving against the flow and you will spook a lot of fish if you try wading and fishing downstream.
If you are using live bait there are several good ones to choose from. Night crawlers, wax worms, minnows, red wigglers, and salmon eggs are among the top choices. Make sure you have enough lead to keep your bait close to the bottom but not so much that the bait drags along very slowly. You will present a more realistic look if it’s moving along just above the bottom with the flow and you won’t get hung up so much. Rule of thumb is to use as little weight as you can get away with.
If you are a novice fly fisherman the best general advice is to try to “match the hatch” which is to say tie on a fly that resembles insects that you have noticed in and around the stream. That will change in different times of the year. The other best method is to find the local fishermen and question them on what’s working at present.
If you want to use lures small in-line spinners like the Panther Martin and Mepp’s spinners are good choices. Another favorite is a small, shallow diving Rapala or any other lure that resembles a minnow. Light spinning tackle is ideal for this method.
If I were going tomorrow I’d probably go to Noontootla Creek in Fannin County (Blue Ridge, Georgia). Noontootla is not one of the stocked streams so if you would rather catch the smaller, fish in greater numbers it’s not the place for you. There’s also a sixteen inch minimum in Noontootla and it’s tributaries on the Blue Ridge WMA. This creek offers the opportunity to catch larger trout (although it’s a catch and release stream) in a beautiful environment. There’s also the Noontootla Creek Farms stretch just before the creek empties into the Toccoa River. This is a privately owned operation that manages two miles of the Noontootla and offers a chance to catch a twenty inch rainbow. You must go with a guide and use a fly rod in this area. The guides operate out of Unicoi Outfitters’ Blue Ridge shop.
Here are a few basic things to know before you go. You must have a trout stamp in addition to your fishing license and iff you are going to be fishing on a WMA you will need a license for that. The season for seasonal streams runs until October 31st and fishing hours are from thirty minutes before sunrise until thirty minutes after sunset. Daily limit is eight total fish in any combination. There are no minimum lengths except in Waters Creek where brown and rainbow trout must be at least twenty two inches long and as previously noted in Noontootla Creek and it’s tributaries on the Blue Ridge WMA.
It is advisable to read all the guidelines on trout fishing before you go. For complete regulations, maps and other information on trout fishing and available places to go in Georgia check out www.georgiawildlife.com/node/1307 or go to www.gofishgeorgia.com where you can find this information and also purchase licenses.
Alvin Richardson is a contributing writer, retired educator, and public speaker. Contact him at email@example.com.