- Sports and Recreation
Trout Fishing in North Georgia
That Old Fish Camp on the Upper Chattahoochee
If you have never seen the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Georgia, you don't know what you are missing. I got some work as an electrician in Helen, Georgia a few years back, and that has led to a passion for trout fishing. Although locating and catching trout can sometimes be a challenge, the rewards far outweigh the work involved. Anyone who has ever tasted a fresh caught trout grilled to perfection would probably agree.
I have been an electrician most of my adult life and now work as a private contractor. A few years back, I was hired for a project in North Georgia that would change my life. The job was a complete remodel on an old fishing camp, and I was doing the electrical system. The camp is located on the upper Chattahoochee river just outside of Helen. It was being remodeled to serve as a private residence to some lucky owner that I never met. The builder in charge was a friend of mine from past projects, and he knew I loved to fish. He let me know quickly during my first day on the job that I was welcome to fish there when I wasn't busy working on the wiring.
This place was so far off of the beaten path, I had to meet the builder at a nearby store and follow him out there the first time. There were too many turns to try written directions, and the main drive was literally a path into the woods with no markings at the main road. The river was clean, beautiful, and completely undisturbed at this location. I could not wait to fish these waters that had seen virtually zero fishing pressure for the last twenty years!
Good Lure for Fast Currents
The Search Begins
I learned a lot about trout fishing right there behind that old fish camp. The plumber was camping out in a tent on that job, and he grew up in the area. He would fish with me during the evenings, and he gave me a great tip on his favorite fast water lure. He was using a blue rooster tail type lure. Being fairly new to this type of fishing at the time, this one tip proved to be a tremendous help. For those of you who aren't familiar with a rooster tail, it is basically a small spoon trailed by a little weight and a small feather. When you reel the lure fast enough, or in a fast current, the spoon flutters to catch a fish's attention.
So, after a trip to the local store, I returned the next day armed with a brand new rooster tail lure. I began to catch fish immediately, mostly small sunfish. As sunset crept up that evening, I finally caught a small rainbow trout. The plumber was impressed, and said that there weren't a whole lot of trout up that far in the river. He said most of the 'stockers' didn't ever make it up that far. This was another golden bit of information from the friendly plumber. Turns out he was referring to the fact that trout were regularly stocked in five different locations downstream. I found out later that trout are stocked in many North Georgia rivers and streams. This was the beginning of a quest to locate and catch trout anytime I had the chance. This turned out to be a difficult, but fun quest.
Unicoi State Park
Learning the Ropes in Helen
Near the end of the fish camp job, I was introduced to a builder from nearby Helen, Georgia. He was starting a project for a large investment group and wanted me to do the electrical work. The project turned out to be a dozen vacation rental cabins. This was a great business opportunity, but an even greater opportunity to continue my trout fishing education. The work was to start immediately, and I even hired a helper for the upcoming summer. Little did he know I would eventually drag him all over Helen and nearby areas in search of a trophy trout.
Before starting the first cabin, I did a little research on the areas in and around Helen. I noticed that Unicoi state park was nearby and offered overnight camping. I had access to a camper at the time, so naturally I decided to camp there for the upcoming work.
With daily access to both Smith lake and Smith creek, I fished every day after work. The blue rooster tail really paid off here. Over a couple of weeks time, I hiked all over the banks of Smith lake and Smith creek. I was able to catch tons of sunfish and even a couple of small trout. There was a lot of hiking involved, but the fishing was great. My favorite spot at Unicoi would have to be the area of Smith creek above the lake. There is access and parking on Anna Ruby Falls road. I encountered some very deep mud on some of the banks, so use caution. If possible, bring a kayak or rent a boat from the boat shack. Ease your craft up into Smith creek and use that blue rooster tail. The fish should be practically jumping into your boat.
If you ever make it to Helen, visit Nacoochee Village, just down the Unicoi Turnpike. Stop off at the Nora Mill Granary and go to the docks over to the left of the granary. There is no fishing allowed here, but they have gumball machines full of fish food. Get you some fish food, throw it in the water, and you will see some of the biggest trout you have ever seen in your life! Fishing these waters is possible, talk to the folks up the road at Unicoi Outfitters.
Exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains
I ended up working on twenty five projects in Helen over a span of about two years. During that time I explored every fishing hole I could find. When the work finally slowed down a bit, it was easy to convince my wife that we should visit more mountain hideaways. She loves the mountains, and had accompanied me on several of my Helen trips. She also enjoys fishing, and we like to plan trips around fishing.
After Helen, the next spot we hit was Lake Burton. We camped at Moccasin Creek State Park. Lake Burton is absolutely the most beautiful body of water that I have ever fished. It is a crystal clear pool placed perfectly in a small mountain valley. The water was so clear in fact, that we would troll the boat into coves and we could see the fish swimming out under our boat. Fishing there was difficult for us, and we didn't catch a single fish. Other folks were catching fish, we just didn't know any of the basic tactics used in such clear water. I would recommend a camping trip to this park if you ever get the chance, the views are breathtaking.
We have tried out several different streams, but the best spot was the Toccoa River, just north of Blue Ridge. This was a great trip, complete with private cabin on the river and a fishing dock. We caught small trout right off the dock during the entire trip. This river is fast and deep, and I could imagine a trophy rainbow trout always lurking just outside of my casting range. We visited a nearby public fishing area also, and caught trout there as well. The Toccoa River still stands as our most successful trout fishing trip.
We will continue to hunt for trout fishing hot spots throughout North Georgia. Who knows, maybe one day I will finally land that trophy trout!
Trout Fishing Tips for North Georgia Locations
Bait of Coice
Smith Lake at Unicoi State Park
Smith Creek just above Smith Lake
Blue "Joe's Flies" Rooster Tail
Nacoochee Village just south of Helen, GA
Nora Mill Granary
No Fishing Allowed, you can purchase feed and see some MONSTER trout here
Creek and River Channels
Small Black and Yellow Jig with a Spoon Head
Taccoa River just North of Blue Ridge GA
Public Fishing Areas above and below Lake Blue Ridge
Yellow Corn, be sure and check regulations in the area you will fish