Fall colors, beautiful scenery, and TROUT! It’s that time of year – Georgia’s Delayed Harvest Trout Streams (or, DH for short) open November 1st. While many (including me) have written on the topic, it’s always nice to revisit!
These types of streams are designated with special regulations from November 1st to May 14th:
• Catch and Release
• Stocked Monthly
• Artificial Only, Single Hooks only (droppers permitted)
The upper Toccoa River in Blue Ridge, Georgia is a beautiful DH stream that flows through the Chattahoochee National Forest and has access from Sandy Bottoms Canoe Launch downstream, to just short of Shallowford Bridge. If you’re already up here with the family, this is a great place to sneak off for a morning or an afternoon. Make sure that the river isn’t too high to wade! Use the U.S. Geological Survey Gauge at Dial Road (type in USGS Dial Road on google) to determine flow. I look for flows below 450 cubic feet per second if I’m going to wade the Toccoa DH. Don’t be afraid to explore around and fish different parts of the stream. Too many people have a tendency to stack up on a hole close to easy access.
Equipment: Trout are generally stocked in the 8-12 inch range, but some larger fish are stocked as well. A 9 foot, 4, 5, or 6 weight is sufficient on DH water. Typical Trout taper fly lines matched to the rod are perfect (SA Infinity, Rio Gold), as they allow you to manipulate your line and make mends more easily. Never forget the essentials! 3x, 4x, and 5x tippet in fluorocarbon (we are mostly nymphing), split shot in varying sizes from #4 – BB, some kind of strike indicator, and a wading staff. Waders and wading boots are a must have if you’re fishing any of our area trout streams this time of year!
For the beginner, DH streams offer a place to learn trout behavior and build confidence in their skillset since these fish are not the most educated at the time of stocking. They are still acclimating to their environment. Fly selection isn’t nearly as important, so stick with big “junk” flies like San Juan Worms, Egg Patterns (Y2k’s), Mop Flies, and anything flashy or colored tungsten bead head flies like Pheasant Tails, Rainbow Warriors, Lightning Bugs, or Sexy Walt’s! As these fish become accustomed to their new homes and are pressured by other anglers, they will start to feed more heavily on the naturals and can grow weary of junk flies, but I still keep junk flies in my rotation, in addition to all of my more typical patterns.
Fishing the swing, or lift, can make for an awesome day on DH water. At the end of my drift, I will swing my flies in the current until they are completely downstream. If you don’t have enough room to get a full swing in, try slowly lifting your flies at the tail out of a pool or in front of obstructions (Boulders, Laydowns, etc). Both of these actions will bring your flies up higher in the water column, as if they were emerging insects – fish love it!
Whether you’re fishing the area DH streams, floating the Toccoa Tailwater, or chasing bass on the lake, this is a gorgeous and productive time to be fishing! Come by and see us at the shop.
Jacob Milholland is the Store Manager at Cohutta Fishing Company, located at 490 East Main Street in downtown Blue Ridge in Fannin County, the Trout Capital of Georgia! You’re always welcome to call us here at the shop for a quick fishing report as well – (706) 946-3044.