The mountainous area surrounding Blue Ridge, Georgia has hundreds of miles of trout streams with the jewel of Fannin County being the Toccoa River. This watershed lies at a nice cool elevation that keeps the blazing summer sun at bay. Fly fishers come from all around the region to enjoy the good fishing. Summertime is the perfect season for folks looking for an opportunity to try something new like fly fishing. Local streams such as Cooper’s Creek, Rock Creek, Noontootla Creek, and the Toccoa River are great areas to try out some new skills!
The Toccoa River happens to flow north towards Tennessee. We refer to the section below the dam as the Lower Toccoa River or Tailwater section. The Blue Ridge Dam is controlled by the TVA and used for production of electricity. It is very important to be aware of the release schedule for that particular day. Release schedules can be found on TVA’s app or look at the TVA website under Lakes to find Blue Ridge. You should not be in the river when the water is released from the dam. The river is not wadable, and it is dangerous. Always be alert for potential generations.
There are three public access points for fishing on the tailwater. Tammen Park is located just below the dam provides pretty easy access for fishing. It is closest to Blue Ridge and has nice park area to sit and enjoy the river. Located further down the river is Curtis Switch. It is another public access point for fishing. Wading is a bit more difficult here and access is limited. The last public access is Horseshoe Bend Park which is just upstream of McCaysville, Georgia. Here is relatively easy wading and access. A wonderful place to bring the family and picnic too.
A 9 ft 5 weight fly rod with a floating fly line is about right for the Toccoa River. We use 9 ft 5X leaders made of monofilament with a fluorocarbon piece of 6X tippet usually if using a dropper. Productive flies to use on this tailwater section include terrestrial bugs such as grasshoppers, ants, bees, and beetle patterns. A few sub-surface nymphs like Pheasant Tail, Prince, and Hare’s Ears are good patterns to always have on hand.
The Upper Toccoa River is the part of the river that flows into Lake Blue and above the dam. Public access is limited on the Upper Toccoa. The most popular public fishing access is at the Sandy Bottoms Canoe Launch area. It provides good access to about a mile and a half of great freestone stream fishing. This area has delayed harvest fishing regulations from Nov 1st to May 15th. Summer fishing is still pretty good here early in the day. Good rainfall and lower water temperatures help provide a better habit for trout in the hotter months. We recommend using the same outfit and flies as you use in the Lower Toccoa River. However, streamer fishing here in summer can also catch a few smallmouth bass in addition to trout. A few streamer flies to try might be an Olive Zonker and a Black Woolybugger.
Farther upstream on the Toccoa River are Cooper’s Creek and Rock Creek. Each of them has several access points with easy wading. Rustic camping is an option here too. We prefer shorter rods like 7 ½ or 8 ft fly rods in 3 or 4 weight for these streams. Fiberglass rods are perfect for these streams too. A short leader works just fine to keep you from getting caught up in the rhododendron cover. Pretty much the same fly patterns as terrestrials will hold the trout’s attention well enough to keep you busy almost any summer morning. You can add Yellow/Orange Stimulators, Royal Wulffs, and Yellow Humpies to your fly box. Both these streams contain some wild populations of fish but by far the usual fish encountered near the roads that parallel these creeks will have been stocked by the national fish hatchery located on Rock Creek. Matching the hatch is not as important to the stocked fish so San Juan Worms and Egg patterns can make for a fun outing too.
Noontootla Creek located on the Blue Ridge Wildlife Management area is a special place with only wild trout in the stream. The year round catch and release special regulations on this creek are a safe haven for the native fish populations. You can use the same equipment and flies recommended above for this pristine fishery. You will enjoy summer fishing here with high floating dry fly patterns such as Thunderheads, Grizzly Wulffs, Yellow Hammers, and Tellico Nymphs thrown in there for good measure.
Spending a cool summer morning with a professional guide or certified fly-casting instructor can make learning fly fishing easy and fun. If you’d like to learn to fly fish or try it for the first-time visit www.blueridgeflyfishingschool.com. We offer various classes for beginning or experienced anglers. We have been teaching fly fishing for over 30 years and can definitely shorten your learning curve for a lifetime of fly fishing adventures!
Give David Hulsey a call at (770) 639-4001 to book a class or a guided trout trip. See his website at www.hulseyflyfishing.com.