October 20, 2012

Trout time in North Georgia

Beginning Nov. 1, anglers can head to North Georgia for fishing in one of the five delayed harvest trout streams.

“Trout streams are designated as seasonal, year-round or delayed harvest, with different streams offering varying populations of rainbow, brown and brook trout,” said John Lee Thomson, trout stocking coordinator for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division.

“The delayed harvest streams, which have special regulations from Nov. 1 to May 14, are regularly stocked from Wildlife Resources Division and from our partners in conservation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Trout are catch-and-release, which makes for high-catch rates and angler satisfaction.”

The five trout streams managed under delayed harvest regulations are:

• Toccoa River, located on U.S. Forest Service land upstream of Lake Blue Ridge in Fannin County (from 0.4 miles above Shallowford Bridge to 450 feet above the Sandy Bottom Canoe Access).

• Amicalola Creek on the Dawson Forest Wildlife Management Area (from Steele Bridge Road downstream to Georgia Highway 53).

• Smith Creek downstream of Unicoi Lake (Unicoi State Park).

• Chattahoochee River in Atlanta (Sope Creek, downstream of Johnson Ferry Road, downstream to the Highway 41 bridge).

• A portion of the Chattooga River (from Ga. Highway 28 upstream to the mouth of Reed Creek) on U.S. Forest Service land bordering South Carolina.

“Remember, during delayed harvest, these streams are catch-and-release only and are restricted to artificial lures with one single hook,” Thomson said. “When May 15 rolls around, the general regulations to designated trout water apply.”

In addition to the excellent fall fishing opportunities that these delayed harvest streams provide, other Georgia streams offer ample year-round trout fishing. These streams are:

• Noontootla Creek Watershed: This watershed offers high-quality, year-round fishing for wild brown and rainbow trout, with many of its tributaries offering a chance at a wild brook trout (a real plus because most other brook trout waters are closed to fishing after Oct. 31). Both Noontootla and its tributaries are managed under an artificial lure-only regulation and have a 16-inch minimum size limit in order to “recycle” the 8-to-2 inch trout that make up most of the population.

• Dukes Creek: This stream, located on the Smithgall Woods-Dukes Creek Conservation Area, offers year-round trout fishing by reservation at (706) 878-3087. All fish caught here must be released immediately and anglers can only use artificial lures with barbless hooks. The stream offers a great chance at a trout over 20 inches, so bring your camera for a quick shot before release. Best time to fish is after a rain discolors the water.

• Chattahoochee River: For good trout fishing close to metro Atlanta, the Chattahoochee River downstream of Buford Dam offers family-friendly, year-round fishing for stocked rainbow, brown trout and wild brown trout. The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area parks offer good bank, wading and boating opportunities. The river will be stocked through the fall months to keep angler catches high. Year-round harvest is legal from Buford Dam to Sope Creek. Best fishing is at low flow when the river is clear to slightly stained.

Some additional notable year-round trout streams include the Toccoa River downstream of Lake Blue Ridge, Tallulah River and the Chattooga River.

Anglers must possess a current Georgia fishing license and a trout license to fish in designated trout waters. Where can you get a license? Buy it online or by phone at (800) 366-2661 or find a list of retail license vendors at georgiawildlife.com/licenses-permits-passes.

By purchasing a license as well as fishing equipment and related items, you and your fellow anglers have helped fund sport fish restoration programs for years, thanks to the Sport Fish Restoration Act.

This act allows funds accumulated from a federal excise tax on fishing equipment and related items to be directed to activities that benefit recreational anglers. A portion of these funds is provided to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources based on several factors, including the number of paid sporting licenses.

Sport Fish funds make the following activities possible: managing sport fish populations, raising freshwater fish in hatcheries and stocking them in public waters, maintaining and operating public fishing areas and building boats and fishing piers, and much more!

For free Georgia trout stream maps, trout fishing tips and other trout fishing information, visit www.georgiawildlife.com/Fishing/Trout.

CATCH-AND-REWARD: Each year, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division recognizes anglers for outstanding catches. Anglers who catch a fish that meets or beats a specific weight or length limit for that species are eligible for an Angler Award.

“Georgia’s diverse fishing experiences make for a great pool of anglers each year that receive recognition through the Angler Award program,” said John Biagia, fisheries management chief for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division. “For example, last year we recognized folks age 4 to age 78 for their fishing catches. So, don’t wait — get outdoors and go fish!”

Fish must be caught in Georgia during the legal angling season for the species, caught on sporting tackle (bush hooks, trot lines, jugs, baskets, nets, etc. are not considered sporting tackle) and be hooked and landed by the entrant. Additionally, the fish must meet either minimum weight or length requirements for that particular species, as noted on the minimum eligible weights chart available online at georgiawildlife.com/fishing/angler-resources.

In order for a harvested catch to be recognized, anglers should follow these steps:

• Do not clean or freeze the fish

• Keep the fish cool, preferably on ice.

• Weigh the fish as soon as possible on scales certified accurate to the nearest ounce by the Georgia Department of Agriculture in the presence of two witnesses who are age 18 or older (witnesses must provide names, addresses and telephone numbers, and may not be members of the angler’s immediate family). Scales that meet these requirements typically are found at grocery stores, agency offices and some marinas.

• Take the fish to a division Fisheries Management Office (locations list at georgiawildlife.com/OfficeContact) as soon as possible and have it positively identified by a fisheries biologist or technician.

• Complete an application and submit with a clear side view photo of the whole fish. State record applications must be received within 90 days of the catch. Angler award applications must be received by Jan. 15, 2013 for fish caught in 2012.

In order for a catch-and-release fish to be recognized, anglers should follow these steps:

• Measure the fish to the nearest inch with a standard, English-unit ruler or measuring tape.

• Submit a clear photograph of the fish for proper identification and length verification (the photo should at least show the entire length of the fish and the ruler or tape used to measure the fish). In addition, a photo of the angler with the fish is also required.

• Complete an application and submit with photos. Angler award applications must be received by Jan. 15, 2013 for fish caught in 2012.

• Anglers must possess appropriate Georgia fishing licenses and to be eligible for recognition.

Information regarding angler awards and state record fish can be found atgeorgiawildlife.com/fishing/angler-resources.

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