Trout Fishing in and Around Fannin County in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia
Fannin County is blessed with a watershed that creates a large and diverse trout stream network. The foundation of the watershed is the Toccoa River, a medium-sized, wadable river which actually consists of two distinct and different fisheries: The freestone stream above the dam and the Tailwater below it. Each section of the Toccoa has its advantages. In addition to the Toccoa itself, the watershed contains literally hundreds of trout streams from tiny higher elevation water containing native brook trout to lower elevation streams dominated by rainbow and brown trout. Some waters in Fannin can be fished within sight of a parked vehicle while others offer the opportunity for wilderness walk-in fishing where few others tread. It’s all here in Fannin for visitors and locals to explore and enjoy.
Here are some of the most popular trout destinations in and close to Fannin County:
Toccoa River Tailwater: The Tailwater, as it is called locally, runs from Blue Ridge dam to the Tennessee State line and is fishable throughout year-round thanks to the fact that the water in the Tailwater comes chiefly from the colder water near the bottom of Lake Blue Ridge, it is supplemented by oxygenation on the lake bottom courtesy of the TVA, and the river is cleansed by higher flows due to periodic generation at the dam. The fish are healthy, diverse in size due to holdover fish, and located throughout the length of the river. The advantages are year-round fishing, heavily stocked by Georgia DNR, floatable and wadable sections with public access at the dam, Tammen Park, Curtis Switch Bridge, and Horseshoe Bend Park. The disadvantages are the need to know the generation schedule and to be constantly vigilant for scheduled and unscheduled releases and the fact that public access is limited to the locations noted above. Even where the river is visible from the road between the public access points, fishing without landowner permission is prohibited. Floating through private lands on canoes, kayaks, float tubes, or pontoon boats, however, is permitted and commonly done, but the floats between access points will take take 6-8 hours depending on the amount of time one fishes. TVA Blue Ridge Dam information: To get daily releases: dial 800-238-2264 then 423. Releases for the next day are available after 4 pm.
Toccoa River above Lake Blue Ridge: The Toccoa River is a magnificent fishery in its beauty, diversity, and quality during certain times of the year. It is a year-round fishery, but hot-summer months can substantially curtail trout fishing in July, August, and early September when water temperature exceed comfort levels for trout, especially in the lower elevations closer to Lake Blue Ridge. Much of the Toccoa is private, but miles of the river run through the Chattahoochee National Forest, including a 1.2 mile section with special Delayed Harvest (DH) regulations (See Georgia Fishing Regs). From November 1-May 14, the river is stocked with lots of trout, including some 15-20 inch fish. Much of the Toccoa River on public lands is accessible by paved and forest service road. One can literally fish in sight of the car, including some sections of the DH. Sections of the river susceptible to summer heat will also hold largemouth Bass, shoal bass, smallmouth bass and other warm water species instead of or in addition to trout. Occasionally private landowners will give permission to fish, but some sections of the Toccoa River are closed to public fishing when by landowners on both sides of the river. Signs are prominent in those sections of the river. When in doubt, stick to public lands.
Coopers Creek: This tributary of the Toccoa River is in the Chattahoochee National Forest off Hwy 60 near Suches, Georgia, and offers camping, hiking, and fishing. There is a public campground and parking area. In addition, the creek may be accessed by Forest Service road in its upper sections. Coopers Creek stocked and operates under general trout regulations. This is an excellent and beautiful place for public fishing. Advantages: Good for families. Disadvantages: Smaller water and heavily used.
Rock Creek: This public access fishery is open year-round and boasts frequent stocking and the side benefit of the USFWS Hatchery off Hwy 60 near Suches. The Hatchery conducts public education and tours and feeds the trout daily. Rock Creek flows through the Hatchery and is accessible by forest service road for several miles below the Hatchery. It is heavily used, but a fun place to fish. Advantages: Great for families. Disadvantages: Smaller water and heavily used. Hint: For the technical fly fisher or spin fisher, Little Rock Creek is a tributary of Rock Creek, the upper portions of which may be accessed by a forest service road off the Hatchery Road offers backwoods small stream fishing for tiny trout. This is less used. The stream is small and somewhat enclosed by vegetation; and the fish are small, but born in the stream, as this stream is not stocked.
Noontootla Creek: This is a gem of a stream operated year-round under special regulations on size of fish and type of gear and wilderness license (See Georgia Fishing Regs). It is a favorite of fly fishermen. Surprisingly, the public sections of Noontootla are easily accessible by a forest service road that runs the length of the public section. It is beautiful and holds surprisingly decent sized fish for its size. It is not stocked, so these are resident fish. The fishing is quite technical. Advantages: Beautiful small stream fishing easily accessible and an ace in the hole when lower waters are swollen with rain. Disadvantages: Technical fishing, some pressure especially on weekends, and decreased chances of success if someone fishes before you do. Hint: Rainy days that take away some clarity of the water will make the fishing easier. Note: There is a private, trophy section of Noontootla Creek accessible only by appointment with a guide on a fee basis. This is a protected, limited access trophy water within 30 minutes of downtown Blue Ridge.
Jacks and Connasauga Rivers: These are two premier trout streams in the Cohutta Wilderness. Both rivers hold resident fish in a magnificent setting on public lands. . Jacks is a Mar-October fishery and the Connie is open year-round (See Georgia Fishing Regs). The trail distances distance in and out are formidable, but worth it to the wilderness fisher. A wilderness trout license is required.
Small Stream Fishing
Fannin County boasts hundreds of miles of trout streams, as do nearby counties . Some trout streams are on private land and others are not practically fishable. However many small streams offer wonderful opportunities for seasonal and year-round fishing. Some are fairly accessible and others are more remote. Naming small streams in a forum like this ruins their appeal and ambience by having crowds descend upon them. There are, however, sources of information from which a determined fisherman can locate wonderful places. Unicoi Fly Shop and local book stores in Blue Ridge have books for sale on North Georgia fishing with information on all the aforementioned streams and many of our smaller streams as well. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources publishes a comprehensive trout fishing guide to Georgia, available for free at the Fannin Chamber of Commerce Welcome Center.
Big Creek: This pristine mountain stream is almost 100% private. The only way to fish this stream is by invitation by a land owner or private guide service such as Upper River Adventures. A year round dense canopy offer many shady and cool areas. Couple this with deep well maintained holes and you will find the perfect habitat for several species of mountain trout.
Some guides and outfitters have access to terrific private access water with limited traffic such as Noontootla Creek Farms, Mountaintown Creek, Big Creek, and Frog Hollow. Check with local fly shops, the Blue Ridge Adventure Center for availability and fees.
Fannin County is in the epicenter of trout fishing in North Georgia. In addition to the rivers and streams right around Blue Ridge, within an hour more or less west (Tennessee), North (North Carolina) and East (Clayton County, Ga.) one may find excellent trout fishing in the Cherokee National Forest, Nantahala River, and Chattooga River. In addition, within the similar distances are special regulation areas at Dukes Creek (Smithgall Woods), Amicalola Creek, Waters Creek and other terrific public fisheries, not to mention private water trophy experiences.
Fishing is Fishing
Dare we mention Lake Blue Ridge and Lake Nottely? These lakes provide awesome destination fishing in their own right for numerous species other than trout. How about fishing for bass and bream on ponds and surrounding lakes or fishing for shoal bass or smallmouth in the Toccoa River?
WHERE TO GO FOR INFORMATION
TVA Blue Ridge Dam information: To get daily releases: dial 800-238-2264 then 423. Releases for the next day are available after 4 pm.
Fannin Chamber of Commerce: Orvin Lance Extension off Hwy 515 (behind CVS);
Unicoi Outfitters and guide service: 490 E. Main Street, Blue ridge, GA 30513. www.Unicoioutfitters.com
Fishing Guides: There are numerous north Georgia trout fishing guides in the Blue Ridge area. Contact Upper River Adventures for Private Guided Trout Fishing in the Aska Adventure Area
Current Georgia Sport Fishing Regulations, available at the Chamber of Commerce, Unicoi Outfitters, or anywhere licenses are sold and online See our local area guide to buy a fishing license in Georgia
Blue Ridge Mountain Trout Unlimited, is local, extremely active TU chapter meets monthly on the second Saturday of each month, 9 am at the Chamber of Commerce. TU and its members are dedicated to preserving trout waters but provide a public service of information on fishing and fishing safety in the area.
SOURCE: Blue Ridge Mountain Trout Unlimited