Info Provided by: Jeff Durniak, GA DNR North Georgia Region Fisheries Supervisor and North Georgia Region Fisheries staff

Quick Notice: For those thinking about fishing in north Georgia streams, please remember streams are very high due to 2-plus inches of rainfall earlier this week. It may be several days before they return to wadeable levels. Check the USGS river gauges carefully before making a trip up here and getting into the water.  It’s not worth risking your life over a few fish. 

Please be careful when wading. Wading safety does take careful thought first! First, evaluate whether you should be in the water at all. If you do decide to wade into a stream, be sure to have a wading belt, a staff and a fishing partner. Some stream fans even wear PFD’s like the SOS-penders. Also remember, you can always fish from the bank.

We’ve learned from Georgia Power Company that the Murray Cove boat ramp, which provides public boating access while the lake is drawn down in the winter, is closed for renovations until the new year.  This may mean boaters will have to wait a short time to launch again on Burton and hunt its trophy spots and brown trout.  The good news is that the Murray Cove ramp should be better once the work is completed.  More info on GPC lakes.

Lake Lanier anglers may enjoy the latest water quality profile from fisheries technician Chris Looney. You can see why fish are now scattered all over Lanier – there is plenty of good habitat!  Also, the Hooch below Buford Dam should be clearing as Lake Lanier turnover approaches. (

Now, on to the report…

Look, the rain stopped!  Well, at least we have a couple-day respite until the next front rolls in.  Maybe a few of you will have a chance to get on the water during this window of dry weather, or will be inspired enough to tough it out in the rain. 


Beware, the rivers are thundering!  Go to small streams or wait several more days (or even longer) for big waters to recede from 4-plus inches of rain this week.  Spend some time this winter learning those USGS stream gauges.  To start, look at the Amicalola gauge and match the curve up to “river reality” in the photos (below) that I took of the Amicalola at Highway 53 (Dec. 10 at 7 a.m.). The next time you fish a favorite stream and return home, look on the web at a nearby gauge to see the water level on the gauge (feet) or river flow (CFS) that you were experiencing.  Then you can have a better feel for what the internet figures are saying in terms of your floating or wading ability. Then plan future road trips accordingly.  Go with the flow!

Remember, it’s not worth risking your life over a few fish.

Ami hiflow 12-10-13 pic1[1]  Ami hiflow 12-10-13 pic3[1]

Smith Creek Delayed Harvest Stream Report:

A couple of buddies hit Smith for a few hours late Saturday afternoon and had some fun with rainbows on pink san juans, egg flies and tungsten nymphs fished DEEP in the side eddies and “dropoffs.” The main stream was rocking and rolling, but fish were hungry in those refuges from the main current.   A few real pros on a purely recreational trip said they even caught a few on dries.  Newbies should see the Dredger tip below, about “hitting the dropoff.”

Dredger’s Dropoff Fishing:

Many trout anglers will saunter up to the side of a pool and cast their worm or fly to the top of it, right at the riffle/pool interface. They’re happy catching a few trout from the middle of the pool, but they don’t realize they’ve missed one of the sweetest, easiest spots in the whole pool – the “dropoff.”  It’s the steep slope just as the riffle transitions into the pool. The drop-offs may actually be rock ledges (Toccoa Tailwater, Toccoa River Delayed Harvest, Chattahoochee Delayed Harvest, Chattooga River Delayed Harvest, Amicalola Creek Delayed Harvest) or simple transitions from a cobbled riffle to a sand or silt-bottomed pool (Smith Creek Delayed Harvest Stream, Dukes Creek at Smithgall Woods, Chattooga, Luftee, etc).  Those anglers are casting right on top of a lot of fish, but by the time their flies or lures have sunk to fish-eye level on their journey, they’ve missed that group of bottom-hugging trophies by six feet or more of downstream distance.  Trout will put their chins right up on that ledge, in that quiet water underneath the riffle’s turbulent surface flows, and have first dibs on all the groceries that are washing down from the adjacent bug factory (what, you don’t know Rabunite?  Plus, they’re not as smart as the mid-pool fish because, due to current velocity, they have to make quicker decisions regarding potential groceries.  That puts the odds in Joe Angler’s favor.

Try casting several feet up into the riffle, and use heavier offerings (tungsten beads  or an extra shot or two) , so that your fly, lure, or bait is literally rolling along the stream bottom and falls off the ledge as the stream bottom “drops” from  1 to 2 or 3  feet (or more) at the very start of the pool.  Use a little bass fishing technique to hone your trouting skills.

Give the Dropoff technique a try.  Think of where that fish is sitting to be first in line at the supper table.  Then do not aim for the top of his head.  Instead, aim 3 to 6 feet above him and have your secret weapon riding the current at his eye level when it hits the dropoff!  Works for me; maybe it will work for you too. Here’s wishing you even more grip-n-grin moments.


Most web boards have been quiet, likely due to the weather and holiday shopping duties, but we’re fortunate that Ryan C. and a fan of Louie B. recently weighed in.

Have you tried the Float’n fly technique?


The Guru and Dredger had a nice boat ride Friday evening, after work, from Clarks Bridge to Ada Creek and all points in between.  They saw a few breaking fish right at dark near the junction of the Hooch and Little River, but goose-egged in about 15 minutes of casting their eight weights and Somethin’ Elses.  Guru blamed his guide.  They later learned from Henry C. that they were too late, and had missed some decent surface action a few miles downlake around 3 p.m.  Oh well, that’s why it’s called “fishing.”

Hopefully the improving weather will bring some fish back near the surface.  These right place/right time reports ought to get everyone fired up to give the reservoirs another try:

It comes down to some knowledge of your home waters and often some luck to be “in the right place at the right time.”  You can’t develop that home field advantage, stumble upon good luck, and catch fish from the living room chair.

Lake Lanier anglers may enjoy the latest water quality profile from fisheries technician Chris Looney. You can see why fish are now scattered all over Lanier – there is plenty of good habitat!  Also, the Hooch below Buford Dam should be clearing as Lake Lanier turnover approaches. (

Conservation Corner:

Check out the sicklefin redhorse report!

Other news:

Gift-giving Kudos:

The Georgia Council of Trout Unlimited, North Georgia Trout Online (NGTO) and Georgia Women Flyfishers held their annual work project planning meeting on Saturday to prepare good deeds for 2014.  U.S. Forest Service and Georgia DNR attendees were impressed with the those groups’ 2013 accomplishments (i.e. $6,700 raised for Smithgall youth education) and pleased to partner with them on 2014 plans, from brook trout structures to Kids Trout Camp to Outdoor Adventure Days.  The final 2014 calendar should be up soon.  It was a great holiday present from angler/conservationists to both natural resource agencies, and we are thankful. New members to our conservation co-op are always welcome.

Remember, fish like water.  All of this rain is just a continuing investment in Georgia’s  reservoir and stream habitat.  Although rain and high water can dampen some of our planned fishing trips, this weather pattern sure beats a drought.  With healthy habitat, we’ll have plenty of future opportunities to chase our favorite species.

Time for the snowsuits and handwarmers, guys and gals (and cameras!).  Send me your reports and conservation news so I can share it with our e-list.  We all like your stories and photos.  Remember that a “trophy” is in the eyes of the beholder.  If your trophies come from secret places, just invoke the standard Rabunite response of exactly where you caught them: “ I don’t believe I said…”

Hillbilly Party- Early Notice:

Ever been to one?  It’s a blast if you like BBQ, bluegrass, 20 different desserts, trouting stories (some true) among 300 close friends, and spending a few bucks on raffle prizes – for worthy causes that might even benefit YOU directly, like this one (VIDEO)!

New Book- Holiday Gift Idea:

At least two chapters are on Georgia waters.  Some Georgia tackle shops now have these books in stock.

Good luck.  Remember to “pass it on” by helping a new angler to be successful, too.