By Jeff Durniake
Welcome to the July 4th Holiday Edition, and congratulations on making it to a little time off from work. Despite the heat, there are still a lot of good fishing opportunities across north Georgia for your holiday exploits. On most of our streams and rivers, the flows are finally dropping, after several weeks of high water from Tropical Storm Alberto. We finally have many more windows of opportunity on those bass rivers and even on the larger trout streams at higher elevations. Our only challenges now are these pop-up thunderstorms that can quickly drop an inch or more of rain and create chocolate floods for a day or two before dropping back and clearing. Watch weather radar and USGS river gauges carefully, call local tackle shops for current stream conditions, and have your nearby Plan B’s (small streams and ponds) ready in case your honey hole gets whacked by a passing storm. Although the storms are inconveniences, they sure beat extreme droughts and big forest fires, so be flexible and rejoice in the rain.
Holiday trout stockings are heavy and widespread, as 51,000 trout exit three state trout hatcheries and one federal hatchery, and enter a big bunch of north Georgia streams for your angling and dining pleasure.The lower elevation trout waters, like Panther Creek, Middle Broad River, and West Armuchee Creek, are starting to heat up with our ninety-degree days and sometimes aren’t cool enough (below 70 degrees) for a weekly stocking, let along good fishing. Avoid them and go higher or below a real big dam to find cold water and eager trout.
Holiday Trout Stockings: GAWRD trout stocking coordinator John Lee Thomson said that 51,000 trout will head out the gates of state and federal hatcheries this week to prepare north Georgia stream for the holiday angler onslaught. This number beats the fairly hefty count of 39,000 trout stocked last week. .
Best bets: Hooch Tailwater, Blue Ridge Tailwater, the mouths of small, cold feeder streams to our trout-stocked lakes, Holly, Rock, Cooper, upper Toccoa, Dicks, Boggs, Frogtown, Hooch on WMA, Soque, Tallulah, Wildcat, Holcomb, and Warwoman. And for zero crowds, hit one of the smaller, lesser-stocked streams on the weekly list that flow on national forest land (see the interactive trout map).
Reminder – Avoid This Area! Remember to avoid this congested area of the national forest until the holiday week has passed. You’ll have a better angling experience if you pick streams other than Nimblewill, upper Etowah, and Jones during the next week or so.
Headwaters Wild Trout: Uphill treks for these small, colorful mountain jewels are still a best bet. Toss a small adams, elk hair caddis, or anything bushy and yellow in a size 14 or 16, and hold on! Remember that a nine-incher is a trophy, so scale down to a 6 or 7 foot rod and light line to make it a fair fight inside the rhododendron tunnels, where cool air and water will make a wet-wader’s day enjoyable.