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Options on Georgia’s Toccoa River


On the Toccoa tailwater, drys, dry/droppers, and swinging soft-hackles catch essentially the most fish. To hunt the large trout, use trout Spey deal with and streamers to mimic sculpins or stocked rainbows. Pat Ford – photograph


North Georgia’s Toccoa River begins its northbound journey beginning as many icy trickles in rhododendron-tangled hollows excessive up within the Chattahoochee Nationwide Forest. Step-across tributaries containing remnant Southern Appalachian-strain brook trout collect energy and measurement, flowing many miles earlier than finally forming rainbow and brown trout habitat. ultimately they fill the reservoir often called Lake Blue Ridge.

Lake Blue Ridge close to the gorgeous little mountain city of the identical identify is a thriving smallmouth bass and walleye fishery. Massive trout additionally stay within the depths, and rainbows make sporadic early spring runs up the river simply earlier than marauding smallmouths from the lake transfer upriver to make the most of the baitfish and crayfish populations.

The large earthen Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Blue Ridge Dam creates a medium-size tailwater, with each wild and stocked rainbow and brown trout. A few of these attain very giant measurement, although most fish run round 10 to 14 inches. For fly fishers, there’s an abundance of alternative. Whether or not you want backcountry hike-in solitude, fight fishing, wade fishing the scenic higher river, or floating the tailwater in a drift boat, this river system has all of it.

Options on Georgia's Toccoa River
The Toccoa River flows into and out of Lake Blue Ridge, Georgia. Above the reservoir, you’ll discover ample wading entry to the principle stem, a spring run of lake-size rainbows, and miles of tributaries to discover. Beneath the TVA-operated dam, the Toccoa is a tailwater hatch manufacturing unit with trout rising to midges, black caddis, and Sulphurs. David Hulsey – photograph

Freestone Gem

The higher Toccoa River, which is the principle supply of water for Lake Blue Ridge, is an exceedingly stunning piece of trout water. Massive towering timber and big rock outcroppings line the banks of this medium-size river, giving it the texture of a Northwest steelhead stream. The very best wading is close to the Sandy Bottoms Canoe Launch on Previous Dial Highway. That is on nationwide forest land, and the street parallels the river for two miles to the decrease boundary, offering good entry.

The river at Sandy Bottoms is artificials-only, catch-and-release fishing from November 1 via Might 1, and month-to-month stocking supplies many uneducated fish for rookies. The river is extensive and highly effective right here, with some huge ledgerock and deep holes simply begging for an enormous streamer. There are each trout and smallmouth bass right here, so don’t be afraid to strive some huge articulated patterns to imitate the resident sculpin inhabitants.



A number of lake-run fish transfer via right here within the early spring, so don’t be shocked by a reel screamer every so often if you’re there on the proper time. On one cool wet day in February a couple of winters in the past, I had a float journey on the higher Toccoa with two streamer-loving guys. We slipped the boat in and had been catching a couple of smaller rainbows within the first couple of miles, then the man within the again let loose a string of expletives that will make a sailor blush. He had an enormous fish observe his fly proper to the boat, however no take. I instantly backrowed upstream and dropped the anchor. We sat there about 5 minutes after which drifted the boat into place for an additional shot. The fish took on the primary forged, and turned out to be a robust rainbow of about 23 inches. We continued downriver and caught 4 extra lake-run fish pushing 24 inches that night, which is phenomenal for the Toccoa. We had hit it good. The small run of fish from the lake doesn’t final greater than about two weeks, so timing is essential. It’s often February, however I’ve hit it in mid-March too.

This piece of water can also be wonderful for trout Spey deal with, which helps entry areas which are harder to wade and fish. Massive ledgerocks and deep holes are the norm right here. The river is finest for wading when the move is 350 cubic toes per second (cfs) or beneath. From 350 cfs to about 700 cfs, I want to drift it in a drift boat or raft. In flows above 700 cfs, you’re not fishing successfully—it’s only a quick boat journey. The water move studying for the Higher Toccoa is offered on the Valley Stream Stream part of tva.com or at usgs.gov.

Tailwater Trout

The decrease tailwater part of the Toccoa River beneath Blue Ridge Dam is definitely throughout the metropolis limits of Blue Ridge, Georgia. Chilly water from the underside of the lake supplies 15 miles of fly-fishing paradise for floating fly fishers. When you wade the river, use tva.com and be aware of the river move and forecast. Don’t get into the water when you aren’t positive when the river will rise.

The primary public entry level is instantly beneath the dam, the place there’s a deep gap holding the whole lot from trout to walleyes to large- and smallmouth bass. Olive-and-white or chartreuse-and-white Clouser Minnows can produce some surprises.



The grass and weeds proper beneath the deep water can maintain a variety of fish, and that is the place you need to hold an eye fixed out for rising trout. More often than not, it’s a midge hatch that brings the fish to the floor. A easy Griffith’s Gnat and correct casting will do the trick on prime, and a Black Zebra Midge is lethal as a dropper underneath a dry fly.

Options on Georgia's Toccoa River
Summer time thunderstorms, cool nights, and funky shady tributaries excessive within the southern Appalachians hold the Toccoa River cool in midsummer. The very best hatches and dry-fly fishing occur in April and Might. Zach Matthews – photograph

The subsequent entry downstream is Tammen Park. There’s a boat ramp right here to launch drift boats and rafts, and a few half mile of water to wade. At Tammen Park you possibly can nonetheless look upstream and see the dam, and among the finest fishing is close to and underneath the Route 515 bridge. The river right here has produced a whole lot of fish, and typically huge fish, for me over time. There’s a large black caddis (Brachycentrus) hatch on the Toccoa River, often across the final week of February, and from Tammen Park downstream is the very best stretch to make the most of it. Swinging a black soft-hackle appears to be the very best producer right now of 12 months.

The TVA Curtis Swap Park is the subsequent public entry level, about 7 river miles or a full day float downstream from the dam. Between Tammen Park and Curtis Swap, there’s some nice dry-fly fishing when the turbines are off. Sulphur fishing is often actually good right here in Might, with heavy hatches and trout on the floor virtually each day. Sulphur Parachutes in measurement 16 or 18 will do the deed. When you don’t have a ship, Curtis Swap Park provides you a few mile of good riffles to wade fish. My favourite run is simply down from the boat ramp across the little rock island. It takes about two hours for water launched from the dam to get right here, so plan accordingly.

Ron Henry Horseshoe Bend Park close to McCaysville, Georgia, is about 7 river miles downstream from Curtis Swap. It’s a very good full-day float. Horseshoe Bend, an easy-to-wade space, has a ship launch and about one other mile of good riffle and run water to fish. Might via September, it’s additionally the house of Pickin’ within the Park, so that you would possibly get handled to some free music underneath the park pavilions.

A tan Elk-hair Caddis with a Prince or small Copper John dropper will all the time catch some rainbows or browns, however the river between Curtis Swap and Horseshoe Bend Park could be a streamer chucker’s dream. Among the wild browns, particularly, attain very giant sizes because of the considerable baitfish and plentiful small stocked trout. On this tailwater, small flies catch many small fish, however the outdated adage “huge flies catch huge fish” is an efficient rule to stay by.

Chocklett’s Rainbow Recreation Changers, olive Sculpzillas, and olive Kiwi Muddlers (#4) are all the time good decisions. When the water is excessive and soiled, a #4 white Polar Changer is superior too. This tailwater is ideal for trout Spey and a blast for swinging soft-hackles or huge streamers. You don’t have to make use of tiny tailwater flies right here, however you possibly can. The Toccoa has one thing for everybody, it doesn’t matter what sort of fly fisher you’re. You’ll be able to blue-line the tiny tributaries, chuck streamers for the trophy of a lifetime, or you possibly can match the hatch on the tailwater for distinctive emergences of midges, Sulphurs, and black caddis. The selection is as much as you.


Exploring the Tributaries

Southern summers are well-known for warm, humid days adopted by virtually every day night thunderstorms within the mountains. These heavy deluges present simply sufficient cool water for our high-elevation trout to make it via the warmth of an August day within the southern Appalachians. The Toccoa River’s gin-clear tributaries move largely northward, with many timber shading them from the obtrusive summer season solar. Nighttime lows in the summertime can dip into the excessive 50s the place the tributaries start, offering a steady provide of chilly water for these creeks. The Toccoa has three fundamental tributaries with nice public entry.

Coopers Creek situated off Hwy 60 close to Suches, Georgia, is a small stream of outstanding magnificence. Large timber and boulders line the banks of this creek, making the encompassing forest seem like one thing out of a Harry Potter film. There’s a hidden stand of large outdated progress virgin timber on this watershed. Only some of us know this place. My spouse Becky confirmed it to me one summer season morning whereas we had been fly fishing for wild rainbows.

Coopers Creek comprises each brightly coloured wild and stocked rainbows and browns. It’s an incredible place for rookies to study the ins and outs of small-stream fishing. Trout are stocked within the decrease reaches of the creek virtually weekly in the course of the spring and summer season, and it may be crowded on holidays and weekends. In case you are prepared to do some bushwhacking, discovering trout and solitude shouldn’t be that tough.

Options on Georgia's Toccoa River
Noontootla Creek within the Blue Ridge Wildlife Administration Space is one in every of Georgia’s few catch-and-release trout streams. It’s on public land, accessible, and runs clear many of the 12 months. Pat Ford – photograph

The pull-outs alongside the street are quite a few, and often a path results in a very good run or pool alongside Coopers Creek. A 7- or 8-foot, 3- or 4-weight fly rod often fills the invoice right here, together with a couple of high-riding drys corresponding to #12-14 Stimulators or Elk-hair Caddis. Prince Nymphs and Pheasant Tails are additionally productive. For newly stocked trout, junk meals corresponding to Y2K Bugs and San Juan Worms appear to draw extra consideration.

Rock Creek additionally flows off the excessive mountains close to Suches. The Chattahoochee Forest Nationwide Fish Hatchery is right here, and takes benefit of the chilly water of the stream for its trout-rearing operation. The hatchery shares a number of trout via the spring and summer season, and most pull-offs alongside Rock Creek Highway are close to holes deep sufficient to carry a number of fish.

The newly stocked fish will destroy your favourite egg sample, San Juan Worm, or Prince Nymph. A Hare’s-ear Nymph swung as a dropper underneath an enormous Yellow Stimulator is a killer choice. Convey a brief 6- or 7-foot, 2- or 3-weight rod along with a very good roll forged. This small creek is overgrown, and also you received’t be casting far. There are additionally wild fish in Rock Creek, however it’s worthwhile to hike away from the street to search out them.

Noontootla Creek within the Blue Ridge Wildlife Administration Space is as about as good as a Georgia freestone can get. Forest Service Highway 58 follows the complete stream, from the decrease boundary all the way in which to the highest of the mountain. At this elevation, a collection of tiny trickles come collectively to kind the principle stream of the creek. The Appalachian Path crosses the creek right here on wood footbridges on the Three Forks junction. There’s a parking space at Three Forks, and small tributaries that beg to be explored with high-riding dry flies like Thunderheads, Yellow Palmers, and Yallarhammers, that are traditional Smoky Mountain patterns. Different outdated Peach State patterns—which had been circulating via the outdated, dented Perrine fly containers of my youth—embody Grey Squirrel and Tough Creek Caddis drys. These are all high-floating dry flies they usually’re straightforward to see within the typically dim mild of those deep ravines and rhododendron-lined creeks.

Brown, rainbow, and brook trout thrive in Noontootla Creek. This stream is seldom unfishable attributable to rain or flooding. Nearly each pull-out on the gravel street results in a pleasant run or plunge pool. By fishing and strolling the creek out of your automobile all the way in which upstream to the subsequent pull-out, you’ll get away from the street and into the very best fishing. Among the extra inaccessible areas will take many hours to fish via correctly.

There are some giant fish for a small creek. One of many bigger browns I’ve caught was in one of many tributaries of the “Toot,” as locals affectionately name it. Solely about two runs up from the junction pool, I used a bow-and-arrow forged to flick an Adams dry fly into some darkish water on the head of a plunge pool. The fly hadn’t even began floating downstream but after I noticed an enormous buttery golden head come up out of the water and inhale my fly. I virtually forgot to set the hook, I used to be so shocked by the scale of the fish. Instantly the fish turned downstream and blew by me as I struggled to get out of the way in which.

The trout made it to the principle stream and made a left flip, with me nonetheless in tow dodging bushes and logs on the way in which. There was a small gravel bar on the mouth of the creek, and I made up some floor within the deeper junction pool. The large brown bottomed out proper there and dogged for what appeared like an eternity. Lastly, I used to be in a position to get my tiny internet underneath a part of him, and he was a stable 22 inches. Usually we don’t see fish like that in our small creeks, however that huge dude was an exception!

The fishing rules on this stream are synthetic lures, catch-and-release solely, which supplies time for the fish to succeed in full maturity. Within the north Georgia mountains we’ve got roughly 4,000 miles of trout streams. About half of these creek miles are cool sufficient for the trout to make it via the summer season and survive with out having emigrate upstream on the lookout for cooler water, and solely about 100 miles have any type of protecting rules, so the catch-and-release part of the Noontootla is a really particular place for Georgia fly fishers on the lookout for huge, wild trout. Downstream of the nationwide forest boundary, Noontootla Creek flows via personal property, so don’t be tempted to fish farther downstream.


David Hulsey and his spouse Becky function the Blue Ridge Fly Fishing College (hulseyflyfishing.com).



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