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

Fisheries technician Mark Bowen with a monster 40-inch, 12-pound lake sturgeon collected on the Etowah River in Bartow County.

Fisheries technician Mark Bowen with a monster 40-inch, 12-pound lake sturgeon collected on the Etowah River in Bartow County.

It looks like we’ll finally start cooling off across north Georgia.  The chillier air should drop water temperatures a bit and wake our sport fish from their summer siestas.  Remember that mountain stream temperatures will drop a lot quicker than our large reservoirs, which are heat sinks.  Hopefully, over the next week or two, your catching should start to pick up.  There are some great early fall opportunities across the northern third of your state, so take advantage of them in between your coveted football games.  Here’s the latest news:

Looking Ahead On Our Lakes –“The 2013 year class of stocked stripers looks very healthy, based on some preliminary DNR sampling.  We had quality (plump) fish from the hatcheries, an excellent hatchery production year (numbers-wise), and excellent reservoir conditions at stocking (a nice green color means lots of zooplankton groceries for newly stocked fingerlings).  These fish are now in the 15-inch range.  As surface waters cool in our reservoirs, these young stripers should join the spots and start chasing shad, providing some great light tackle, topwater action for north Georgia anglers.  Get your light action spinning rods and six-weight fly rods ready now for the action to come.  Have plenty of line on those reels, since the strong 2011 year class of stripers may also show up, and these seven-pounders will take anglers for a ride on light tackle!”  – Biologist Patrick O’Rouke

Stocker Best Bets – Early fall’s best bets for stocked trout are led by the two big tailwaters (Hooch and Blue Ridge).  Larger mountain streams that received lots of fish during our March-Labor Day stocking season should also have some leftovers for anglers willing to get away from the road and cover a lot of water.  Try the pocket water in the boulder fields.  Also target the woody debris jams that scare away many anglers who are concerned about snagging tree limbs and breaking off their favorite Rooster Tails.  Try: Holly, Rock, Cooper, Dicks, West Fork Chattooga, Chattooga well below Burrells Ford, Wildcat in the gorge, the upper Hooch on the WMA below the Forest Service campground, lower Warwoman, and maybe Panther well below 441.

Colorful Wild Fish – Wild trouting should be fun, but challenging in the super-clear fall waters.  You’ll need to bring your A-game regarding stealth: drab colors, slow movements, and little casting.  The brooks and browns should start coloring up for their fall dating season, while the rainbows are pretty year-around.  A lot of the summer vacation crowds are now gone from the national forest, so parking spots and campsites are easier to come by.  Fall is a great time to blue-line and discover new creeks that are worth returning to.  Just  grab a national forest map, this book, and a short rod, and have at it.  You have about a month until leaf drop will sideline you for about 7-10 days before resuming your leaf-free casting.  These fish await you now.

Sturgeon ShortyEnjoy this photo from Damer. That Summerville shorty will hopefully grow a lot bigger in the years to come as our agency reestablishes a healthy population and a sport fishery for this longtime Georgia resident.

WRD News

Good luck this fall.   It’s just about time to find that long sleeve camo shirt in the back of your closet!  The morning lows on the mountain ridges will soon be a bit chilly.  And  we all are looking forward to them!