Georgia Trophy Trout Fishing
Georgia Trophy Trout Fishing Guide
Trophy class trout can be found in every corner of North Georgia. While many of these trout are found on private lands where catch and release practices allow trout to reach trophy sizes, trout over 20'' can be found on public waters as well. This 20" length is generally accepted as the size in which rainbows and browns can be considered trophies here in North Georgia. The streams these fish are found in come in all shapes and sizes. Different management practices are used on each, in order to grow a fishery that produces larger, healthier, or more abundant trout. These individual streams tend to fish differently and can teach visiting fly anglers something different.
Private Trophy Trout Streams in Georgia
How trophy trout streams are managed will dictate the type of fishing anglers can expect out on the water. Each offer different challenges for the angler and different opportunities to grow and learn more about the sport of fly fishing.
Beginner Friendly Trout Streams
Some private waters can be managed for numbers of trout rather than fewer large trout. Though trout in the trophy size range do exists on these waters, they are not as abundant as others. For beginning anglers looking to get on private water, these streams are the best bet. Learning the basics on targeting, casting to, setting the hook, and fighting trout tends to be a steeper learning curve than many believe. Beginners will see better results and more positive feedback on streams with bigger populations of trout. The pressure of learning all of this while fighting the trout of a lifetime is lifted and true
learning tends to happen quicker. While you may still hook up with a monster on these streams, hopefully the experience comes after you have had the chance to battle more average to above average sized trout. Here trout are fed intermittently, and are more opportunistic on what they eat on the stream.
Pellet Pet Trout Streams
On the other side of the spectrum of the beginner friendly trout streams are the streams where trout are fed HEAVILY with fish pellets. While many private waters feed trout to incentivize them from leaving and promote better growth as the primary production in many of Georgia's stream is typically lower these streams take feeding trout to the next level. Many often refer to these trout living in these conditions as pellet pets as they could likely be trained to eat out of your hand. On these streams is where you're very likely to find the biggest trout in the state. Where the pellet "hatches" are so abundant and often they can cloud the surface of the water making trout look past any natural
insect activity that may occur on the stream these trout often measure the same in depth as they do in length. While hooking into these monsters isn't too difficult with your standard junk fly patterns, these trout are excellent for hero shots and those looking to learn how to fight big trout. This lesson is better learned on these waters than on waters where trophies are difficult to come by and failure leads to heartbreak. Many of the trout stocked on these water are triploid (infertile) in attempt to keep them from leaving the area during spawning runs and also allowing them to put on additional weight. The many private stretches of the Soque River and sections of the Toccoa and Upper Chattahoochee River are notorious for these trout. Make sure your drag is set before hitting the stream and don't forget your camera at home.
Healthy Trophy Trout Streams
The private water streams in this category are more difficult to come by in North Georgia. While trout here do see supplemental pellet feeding, they still rely on the stream for most of their nutrients and can even be selective when it comes to the flies they eat. Many of these trout were not stocked into the rivers but are the offspring of wild trout. This is likely the reason they have the aptitude to move more
freely around the creeks and streams they call home as well as their tendency to be more selective and in tune with what is going on around them. These factors make them a worthy challenge for fly fishermen to get on the line and an even bigger challenge in fighting as they are often long, lean, and less lethargic than overfed trout. Dry flies and patterns in the size 20 or smaller range are not out of the question here depending on the time of year and activity level of the trout. Brown trout on these waters can fall victim to bulky streamer patterns in epic fashion that few anglers get to witness. AS good as things can get on these waters, they can also see slumps of inactivity when conditions aren't where they need to be. Some days the trout endlessly, and on others anglers must bring their A game to have success.
In North Georgia finding trout over the 20" trophy mark on public water can be difficult but not impossible. Knowing where and possibly more importantly when to look is key. From the first rains in November through the Spring months, bigger trout will move regularly for various reasons. Public lands adjacent to these private water streams known for rearing big trout see these movements often. Heavy rains and flooding will see trout move in order to find cover during the wet days of winter and spring. Areas like the stretch of public water are well known for seeing these big trout move in to find cover and ride out the high water. These trout will not stay for long as the smell of fresh pellets will pull them back upstream when the water subsides.
Rains in the fall and spring can also push wild trout that live on these private waters upstream each year at the beginning of their spawning period. These trout move much like salmon from holding water to holding water until they can find a suitable place to spawn. Look for deeper pools around gravel flats where these trout can stage prior to spawning.
Another places to find trophy sized trout on public water are the Toccoa River and Chattahoochee River Tailwaters. Here, wild brown trout can exceed the 20" inch mark from a steady diet of crayfish, small baitfish and sculpin living in the feeder creeks, and of course, unsuspecting stocked rainbows. Running across these trout while they're hungry is rare, but putting your time in on the water certainly improves your chances.
Stocked Trophy Trout on Public Water
The last opportunity to land a trophy class trout in Georgia typically happens in the late winter and early spring. This is when the DNR will stock many of their brood stock (mature spawning) trout on public land. While many people know to fish Dukes Creek with a reservation to have a chance at landing a trophy on public water. Many do not know that the Georgia DNR often stocks these larger trout on the Georgia Delayed Harvest streams toward the end of winter and on several public streams in early spring (typically for the first stocking of the year. Though a little luck is required with your timing on these streams, it does not hurt to take a look following the stocking reports.