North Georgia

Trout Fishin’ July 4

North Georgia

(Info provided by fisheries biologist Jeff Durniak and region fisheries staff)

It’s been a tough June up here for fish habitat, especially of the coldwater persuasion.  The hot, dry weather has streamflows way down, temperatures spiking, and both fish and fishers uncomfortable.  We need some decent rainfall to recharge our trout streams and cool off our hatchery inflows!

On the positive side, the low water continues to afford some great wade and kayak fishing opportunities for river fans, so grab your bass rod and float the Hooch, Coosa, Etowah, or Chestatee.  Reservoir fishing is also good for those dedicated souls who go early or late to avoid the sun and skiers.

For some more positive news, enjoy the following fish stories and photos that focus on our young anglers.  There are a lot of nice trip reports worth sharing, so here they are:

  • Priceless Report

(Editor’s note: kudos to Trouter23 (Brian) for his multiple mentoring trips with Audrey and her dad.  This fishing report is dedicated to him)

Hi Mr. Durniak,

I wanted to send you my Smith Creek fishing report.  I tried the egg pattern you gave me, but the trout seemed to be more interested in the dry flies yesterday.

My Fishing Trip

On Friday, June 10 my dad and I went fishing at Smith Creek. We got there about 9:30 AM, and then we got ready to go fishing. We hit the dam first with a dry dropper set-up, but we got no bites. So then we went to the first run down stream. As soon as my dad cast his dry dropper into the river a rainbow trout grabbed it and my dad quickly reeled it in. We went to the first bridge downstream next. We kept trying to get a good cast under the bridge to get a bite but we had no luck. We then moved further downstream. After what seemed like 500 casts, I finally caught my first rainbow trout of the day. We tried the same spot a few more times but had no luck. We then moved to a grassy landing, but neither of us caught anything. After that we had lunch up in Helen to skip the hottest part of the day. Once we got back to the river we met up with NGTO Forum member Trouter23. We went back up to the dam, but got no bites at all. When we started to go to the first run we saw a snake that was wound around a tree branch. After that we kept going deeper and deeper into the woods along the river. About every 60 feet we would fish river for about 5-10 minutes. My dad caught another fish on this hike. When we finally got back to the grassy landing I cast out my dry dropper and got snagged on some plants nearby. When I walked over to get it I stepped on a spot where I thought there was ground but there wasn’t. I fell into the river and got soaked. Next time I will pay more attention. I will out fish my dad on our next trip.

trout rbt Smith Cr AudreyH June 2016

By: Audrey Kenney, Age 10

  • The Trophy in My Heart

This is a must-read:

That was a true story, as told by Grandpa Mark to WRD biologist Anthony Rabern, and inspired by Dylan’s big bass:

  • Timely Zika Tips

See page 30 of this great, free fishing magazine:

By the way, there are many more editions here:

  • Outdoors Georgia App



SOCIAL CIRCLE, GA (June 17, 2016) – Whether alone or with family and friends, fishing and hunting provides you with irreplaceable quality time and experiences.  Now, you can rest assured you won’t miss a memory thanks to the new license auto-renew system.

“This new feature for license buyers guarantees that you will never miss the opportunity for your renewal discount,” said Dan Forster, Director of the Wildlife Resources Division.  “Additionally, it provides you with the flexibility to renew all of your license privileges or select individual ones.”

Here is how it works:

  1. Go to
  2. Log Into Your Account
  3. Activate the “switch” Next to Each License You Wish to Auto-Renew
  4. Make Sure Your Credit Card on File is Up-to-Date

That is it! Once you are done, you will receive a confirmation email with a printable PDF of your license.  Each year, you will get an email notification prior to auto-renew.

To purchase a hunting or fishing license or set up your licenses for auto-renew, visit

  • Ken’s Reservoir Reports

  • Lanier Bass


As summer temperatures set in, the spotted bass on Lake Lanier continue to move out on to brush piles in deeper water. Finding these brush piles, however, can be tough without lake maps and good electronics. I’ve had my best success finding brush while graphing main lake humps and points using down imaging.

Once located moving baits like a Superspin are great when the fish are active then switching to a drop shot once fishing slows down. Those that get out early still have a chance to catch fish on topwater as well. If fishing the main lake isn’t for you, over the past couple weeks I’ve been able to catch bass in creeks with steep rocky banks while fishing a drop shot or shaky head as well. These fish have been typically smaller than the main lake fish but have been more numerous.

If you’re trying to beat the heat, night fishing on Lanier can be productive as well. Rocky points and steep rocky banks tend to hold fish and can be targeted with big spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and jigs. Fishing dock lights can also yield good results of largemouth, spotted, and striped bass this time of year. High temperatures and lack of rain has seen the lake level down nearly three feet so be careful running, especially at night. A good GPS will help a lot but be sure to still watch out for shoal markers and other boats and make sure your lights are on and operational if you’re fishing after dark.

bass spot pat S lanier June 2016 resized

If you’re a BASS member north Georgia is a great place for you to try to earn a spot in Bassmaster Magazine’s prestigious Lunker Club. As of June 2016, Bassmaster will recognize anglers who catch spotted bass over 5 lbs as part of their Lunker Club. Any spotted bass over 5 lbs or 23 in also qualifies for our angler award program. Links to both programs are listed below.

If you plan on going out this weekend be safe and if you catch a trophy be sure to let us know!

Good luck and tight lines,

-Pat Snellings, GA WRD Fisheries Biologist Gainesville

  • More on Lanier





o   Lanier Bank Fishing

Keep this in mind. Lots of little guys along the banks right now. Small white poppers getting mixed sunfish and spots. Not huge but they are plentiful and hungry!

–          Landon

  • June 25 Kids Tourney

Webster Lake Kids Fishing Tournament – June 25th

-Steven P

  • Cool Kids Camp

This summer Cherokee Recreation and Parks Agency is celebrating our 11th Annual Fishing Camp.  We are hosting two weeks of camp this year due to increased popularity.  We are extremely proud to have GA DNR collaborating with us each year to teach the next generation about the outdoors, nature and the art of fishing.


Jay M. Worley

(Editor’s note: Buford Hatchery staff support this camp with a hatchery tour and pond fishing opportunity, as well involving the kids in a trout stream stocking opportunity.)

  • Striper Stocking Video

Wanna know how we do it?  Watch this:

  • Ron’s “Fleece” Bass

Ron W recently rubbed it in with his “toboggan bass” story and photo.  I’ll share the pic he sent me and link you to his story:

bass lmb adirondacks RonW June 2016

Maybe the photo will make you feel a bit cooler, at least for a fleeting moment.

  • River Bass Weapons

Dredger says he’s having a lot of luck during the day on a brown hairy fodder, tossed ¾ downstream and then twitched and stripped in short jumps back to him.  As the sun sets, he goes topwater with a white bass popper with rubber legs, in a size 8, large enough to interest a bass, while small enough to hook the bigger bream.  He and two buddies enjoyed a weekend trip north of the state border for river bronzebacks.  Low flows made wading easy.  Catch rates shot up as the evening shadows grew.  River bass techniques will work for any flavor: shoal, redeye, spot, etc.  Tried the Chattooga for redeyes (Bartram) bass yet?  Low flows may allow for some CAREFUL wading.

bass spot lanier bank popper Landon June 2016

Bassin’ secret weapons:

(far left side)

  • Headwater Trout

o   Sautee reported a great trip last weekend to another Stream X “somewhere above Helen.”  The cloudy weather helped to keep fish in the open, ready to eat.  He caught an abundant combo of stocked and wild trout on his #16 tan elk hair caddis.

trout rbt on caddis IDBIS Ck Sautee June 2016


  • Trout Worst Bets

Your worst bets include anything at low elevation with hot water.  It’s easy to think of places like Stephens County’s stocked streams as avoidance areas.  It’s harder to think of traditionally good spots like the Hooch in Helen, the Chattooga and its West Fork, Amicalola, and even lower Cooper as non-destinations.  Dukes at Smithgall is closed until water temps consistently slide back under 70 degrees.

  • Trout Best Bets

Trouters will have to hike way uphill or drop below the two big dams (Blue Ridge, Buford) for a shot at their coldwater quarry.  Wild trout best bets include watersheds with north-facing slopes and even those beyond our borders, at higher elevations:

Stocker fans should fish the mornings, avoid the afternoons and evenings, and aim for the upper reaches of these streams for their ‘campfire suppers:” Dicks, Wildcat, Tallulah, Sarahs, Holcomb, upper Cooper, and Rock.

Good luck during a tough time for north Georgia fishing fans.  We need some rain!


Fodder Fan

Fourth of July

GAWRD and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service trout hatcheries are stocking streams heavily this week for our July 4th holiday anglers.  The best bets for Georgia trout anglers are high elevation streams and the trout tailwaters below our large reservoirs.  Anglers should fish early in the morning, when water temperatures are coolest, for their best chances of success.

trout stocking Buford load truck June 2016

Best bets this week include the Blue Ridge and Lanier tailwaters, the Tallulah River, Wildcat Creek and Warwoman Creek (Rabun County), the Chattahoochee River headwaters and Smith Creek above Unicoi Lake (White), Dicks Creek (Lumpkin), Cooper Creek (Union), Rock Creek (Fannin), and Owltown Creek on Rich Mountain WMA (Gilmer).  Enjoy the shade and cool water of a mountain trout stream this holiday weekend.  For more information on trout fishing in Georgia, visit: