In-depth guide to trout fishing in Georgia


From their origins high in the Appalachian mountains Georgia has 4000 miles of trout streams. Inhabited, not only by the native Brook Trout but also Brown and Rainbows. Trout fishing in Georgia is some of the most accessible in North America. The Chattahoochee River, one of the country’s top trout rivers flows through the state capital of Atlanta.

Georgia offers more than just the Chattahoochee. In the foothills of the Appalachians there are countless trout streams. Some streams get frequent releases of stock trout, and they can get crowed on the weekends. Others streams flow deep within the National Forests, home to wary wild trout waiting to be discovered.

In this guide on trout fishing in Georgia. We give an overall of the best trout rivers, streams and lakes. This is far from an exhausted list of trout waters, but hopefully give a good starting point.

Check the regulations before trout fishing

For up to date regulations check with Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources.

Rainbow trout

Best Trout Lures to use in Georgia

Inline Spinners

Trout in Georgia respond to a wide range and selection of lures. Inline Spinners such as the Mepps Agilia and the Blue Fox Vibrax are popular. The tough construction makes them an excellent choice for bouncing off the bottom in rocky creeks. Inline Spinners are excellent trout catchers, and it is hard to go wrong with any of the established brands. For more information, check out our guide on what we consider to be the best inline spinners.

Jerkbaits

If after a trophy trout, try skillfully working a jerkbait across the head of deep pools, or dart them past overhangs. Big trouts love them. Popular Jerkbaits in Georgia include the classic Rapala and the Smithwick Rattlin’ Rogue. In both floating and suspending versions. Try them in brown trout, rainbow and herring (Chrome Blue Back) patterns. For more information on trout fishing with Jerkbait check out our guide.

Best Flies to use in Georgia

Dry Flies

  • Quill Gordons (#10-18)
  • Hendricksons (#10-18)
  • Blue-winged Olives (#12-20)
  • Yellow Sally (#12 – 16)
  • Yellow Humpy (#10 – 18)
  • Parachute Sulphur (#14 – 18)
  • Parachute Adams (#12 – 22)
  • Light Cahill (#10 – 18)
  • Black Gnat (#16 – 24)
  • Elk Hair Caddis (#8 – 16)
  • Stimulator (#8 – 14)

Nymphs

  • Pheasant Tail (#12 – 20)
  • Copper John (#12-20)
  • Hare’s Ear (#12 – 20)
  • Rainbow Warrior (#14 – 22)
  • Stonefly (#6 – 10)
  • Tellico Nymph (#12 – 18)
  • Zebra Midge (#16 – 22)
  • Egg (#12 – 16)

For a more comprehensive chart of flies and when to use them in the southern Appalachian we suggest visiting this comprehensive page by soaring eagle outfitters. It is the best we have seen.

Chatahoochee National Forest

The Chattahoochee National Forest offers some of the best trout fishing in Georgia. Within the park there are countless miles of picturesque trout streams. The scenery is spectacular, and anglers looking to venture off the beaten path will get to enjoy many miles of back country fishing for Brown and Rainbow trout.

The streams at higher elevations. Above 3000 feet also provide fishing for native brook trout.

Toccoa River

The Toccoa River is one of Georgias premium trout rivers. The Toccoa flows from its origins in the southern Appalachian’s for 56 Miles through Georgia before entering Tennessee where it is known as the Ocoee. The Toccoa Rivers holds healthy populations of Rainbow and Brown trout with the occasional Brook. The Toccoa has a well-deserved reputation as a top quality dry-fly fishery through the months of March to November but the fishing can be worth while throughout the year. .

The river is split into two sections by the Blue Bridge Lake. Upstream of the Lake the Toccoa is a gorgeous trout stream. Although many of the best beats are in private ownership making angler access difficult without hiring the services of a guide.

Georgia trout streams offer some exciting fishing
Many great trout streams flow into the Toccoa

Downstream from Blue Bridge Dam in the tailwaters offers good public access. Many consider the tailwater section to offer the best trout fishing in Georgia. This tailwaters spans only 35- 50 yards in width but still supports a good numbers of mature Brown and Rainbow trout. Spend enough time on the river, you might even catch a 10lb brown trout. Popular public access points is at Blue Ridge Dam, Curtis Switch, and McCaysville.

The tributaries of the Toccoa rivers in themselves are excellent fisheries. With many offering top quality smaller stream trout fishing. Of particular note are Rock Creek and Cooper Creek for exciting fishing to stock fish. The nearby Fightingtown Creek Hothouse Creek and Noontootla are worth a visit for the challenge of more technical fishing. We discuss the Noontootla further below.

Noontoola Creek

Noontoola Creek is a picturesque freestone tributary in the Chattahoochee National Forest. The stream offers excellent fishing to wild brown and rainbow trout in its many pools and riffles. There is also a few native Brook trout in the smaller side tributaries such as Stover Creek, Long Creek and Chester Creek. Brook trout survive above 3000 feet (900m) where the cooler clean water allows them to out compete the introduced species.

Both Fly fishing and Spin fishing is allowed, but live bait is prohibited.

The best access is from Forest Road 58 which follows the creek through much of its length within the National Forest

Chattahoochee River.

The Chattahoochee, maybe the best trout river in Georgia
Chattahoochee River is worth a fish even during the winter

The Chattahooche River might just be the most famous trout river in Georgia. The river as a trout fishery is quite remarkable. It is one, of only three trout rivers which flows through a city area of more than a million people.

The trout are also impressive; The chattahooche holds the state record for the largest Brown Trout. A 31.5 inch, 20 pound monster.

The Chattahoochee begins its life in the cool waters of Buford Dam, from there the river meanders for over 38 miles of designated trout water.

The trout hatchery near Buford, released close to 50,000 rainbow trout into the river from early November through late April. Some of the easiest trout fishing on the chattahooche is in the tailwater close to the hatchery.

More top quality fishing can be had In the lure only water between Highway 20 to Abbott’s Bridge. This area is rich in aquatic life and sustains a healthy population of brown trout.

When fishing the chattahooche just be aware of rapid changes in river levels when the dam releases water.

Soque River

This medium size river is one of the main tributaries to the chattahooche. The Soque flows some 28.5 miles and in the upper reaches has some quality trout fishing. The main claim to frame is the Georgia state record for rainbow trout was caught in the Soque,

Much of the riverbank is in private ownership, making it a difficult river to fish for the public to fish without the assistance of a guide.

Dukes Creek and Waters Creek

Georgia’s state-managed trophy streams

These are the two premier trophy trout creeks in Georgia. While they have their differences which we will discuss below, they share much in common. Both Creeks are typically low and clear. The trout which inhabit there are large, but also extremely cunning and will take flight at the first sign of danger. A stealthy approach, and precise presentation, with no drag or line flash, is paramount for success.

Both Creeks can be accessed in under two hours driving from Atlanta city.

In clear conditions, most successful fly anglers fish 10 to 12ft leaders, sometimes down to 6X or 7X when presenting tiny dry flies. Sometimes tiny flies, down to size 22 is essential. While most anglers choose to fly fishing, the regulations do not directly ban spinning.

The overgrown nature of the creeks makes casting difficult, plus the pools and runs are full of submerged trees, logs and roots. Snags, and break offs are common. Scouting and knowing the water is essential for success. It is suggested on your first visit to scout and learn the pools and runs on the first visit before fishing.

When it rains, the creeks can flow a brownish red. Many fishermen choose to stay at home but this is one of the best time to target the trophy trout which are much more confident during the swollen conditions. When the water is dirty, fish big and bold. A wooly bugger or muddler minnows works well. The trout need to be able to see the flies through the gloom so this is not the time for finesse flies.

Check the regulations

Like with all trout waters, it is important to check the regulations before fishing. Both creeks can only be fished with barbless hooks and artificial lures. For up to date regulations check with Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources.

Water Creek

Waters Creek is a seasonal stream located in the Chestatee WMA. The trophy waters is slightly over four miles in length and never spanning more than 30 feet wide. It use to have a legendary reputation as some of the best fishing for large brown and rainbow trout in Georgia. The river holds the state record for Brook Trout, but large brooks are now rare.

Because of a series of adverse events, from poaching to wild weather, the stock of trophy fish took a hammering. Water creek is largely made up of a series of ripples and shallow runs. There is few deep, dark pools for trophy trout to shelter in. Most large trout hide beneath undercut banks or among the branches of fallen trees.

While the quality of the fishing is slowly improving, and it is a better than average trout stream it is still far from the trophy water of old.


Dukes Creek

Dukes Creek is the second trophy trout water in the state of Georgia. It is located within the Smithgall woods conservation area. Dukes creek only offers two miles of trophy water, and numbers of anglers per day is tightly controlled. Like Water Creek it is only open for angling Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday.

Duke Creek meanders through the mature woodlands in a series of deep pools, separated by faster shallow runs. The upper most portion of trophy water is a series of deep pools, before it opens up slightly.

Dukes Creeks contains a healthy population of trout, with many fish in the 20 to 30 inch range. The lower most section of Dukes Creek is reputed to hold the biggest fish. It is also by far the most inaccessible and rarely fished by visiting anglers.

These are the best lakes in Georgia for trout fishing.


Lakes in Georgia are an excellent place for new anglers to learn how to fish. They are also a perfect place to catch a feed for the table. Several lakes in the North Georgia Mountains get stocked with thousands of rainbow trout multiple times a year.

Trails circle many of the lakes, which allow for easy shoreline access. Some have fishing pairs and conveniently located campsites. Bait fishing is not only allowed, but is very common. The lakes are a great place to take children to teach them to fish. Popular baits include night crawlers, red worms, crickets and artificial baits such as Berkley Powerbaits.

  • Rock Creek Lake, (Fannin county) 9 acre lake in Fannin county. This lake receives regular stockings over the fishing season.
  • Dockery Lake (Lumpkin County). Picturesque lake which is regularly stocked over the fishing seasons. This lake is the head of one of the tributaries of Water Creek which is managed as a trophy fishery.
  • Lake Conasauga (Murray County). A cold mountain lake with a scenic campground. The lake is stocked with trout. Good fishing for children. Access road can be rough.
  • Vogel Lake (Union County). A small lake which often brims with stock and holdover trout. Some of the most popular fishing is off the dam. A great spot for children to fish.
  • Lake Winfield Scott (Union County). This shallow lake fishes best early in the season when it receives regular stocking. The water gets warm by late summer and the trout suffer.
  • Nancytown Lake (Habersham County). This small lake receives regular stocking. The trout get fished out quite quickly so best to fish close to the time of release.
  • Lake Russell (Elbert County). This lake receives a lot of stock rainbow trout, the resident bass relentlessly predate upon them. Still a worthwhile lake around the time of release.
  • Lake Burton (Rabun County) This large lake contains over 35 species of fish. It is perhaps the only lake which is managed primarily as a trout fishery. Lake Burton fishes best over the cooler months, when the Brown trout move closer to the surface. Trout of up to 8 lbs are caught every year. .
  • Blue Ridge Lake offers 3,300 acres of water to explore, and 65 miles of shoreline to walk. This lake contains a wide variety of freshwater with most anglers targeting bass, walleye and bream. Despite the competition there is still trout fishing to be had. Most notably near the mouth of the Toccoa River.

Conclusion

In this guide we discuss the best trout catching lures in and flies to use in Georgia. Plus gave an outline on the top trout lakes, rivers and streams. Hopefully, this will help you catch more and better trout. Georgia is blessed with a wealth of trout streams and fishing suitable for any age and skill level. What is your favorite experience trout fishing in Georgia, let us know in the comments below.

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