The Best Trout Fishing Spots in North Georgia

When you step out into North Georgia, you’re stepping into some prime fishing country. We’re known for our clean air and great views of the mountains, and the rivers here are perfect for a day of fishing. It’s just the spot for anyone who’s looking to kick back, maybe forget about work for a while, and enjoy the outdoors.

The pace out here matches the slow drift of a fishing line. Each cast into these cool waters might hook you a decent trout—and that’s a promise not a lot of places can make. Whether you’re here for the first time or you’re a local who knows these parts like the back of your hand, you’ll find a stretch of river around here that feels like it was made just for fishing. You’ll meet North Georgians who have fished these waters all their lives and wouldn’t dream of being anywhere else.

And among the creeks and rivers that make this part of the state special, one in particular stands out. It’s got a calm flow that makes it perfect for trout fishing, and it’s got a reputation for being one of the best spots to catch trout in the Southeast United States.

Where to Cast Your Line

If you’re aiming to reel in trout in North Georgia, set your sights on the Toccoa River—hands down the best spot around. What sets the Toccoa apart isn’t just the quantity of trout here but the quality of the fishing experience it offers. Below the Blue Ridge Dam, the river’s tailwaters are cool and consistent, making it a perfect habitat for trout year-round.

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The river cuts through some beautiful country, giving you a peaceful spot to fish without all the noise and rush. And thanks to regular stocking and natural reproduction, you’ll find a healthy mix of rainbow and brown trout, with the occasional brookie.

The Trout Capital of Georgia

Blue Ridge is known far and wide as the Trout Capital of Georgia, and it’s easy to see why once you get here.

This town is not just a starting point for hitting the Toccoa, it’s the center of trout fishing in the state. The people around here live and breathe trout fishing, whether you’re a beginner needing a few pointers from a local trout fishing guide or an old pro looking to share stories.

Types of Trout in the Toccoa River

Here’s a bit more detail about each type of trout you might find in the Toccoa River:

  • Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) – These are probably the most popular trout among fishermen for a few good reasons. They’re beautiful with their shiny, colorful markings that give them their name. Rainbows are known for their fights when hooked, which makes reeling one in a real thrill. They’re stocked regularly in the Toccoa River, so there’s a good chance you’ll encounter them. Rainbows thrive in the cool, oxygen-rich waters of the Toccoa, especially in the stretches just below the dam.
  • Brown Trout (Salmo trutta) – These trout are originally from Europe but have been a staple in North American fishing for a long time. Browns tend to be a bit sneakier than rainbow trout, hiding out in deeper, quieter waters or under cover like submerged logs or overhanging banks. They’re known for being wily and a bit tougher to catch, which can be a fun challenge for more experienced fishermen. Brown trout in the Toccoa can grow larger than rainbows, sometimes reaching truly impressive sizes.

Note: While there may be isolated pockets where Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) can survive in tributaries of the Toccoa River, especially in higher, cooler waters, they are not in the main stretches of the river. Brookies are actually a type of char, not true trout, but they’re grouped with them because of their similar habitats and behaviors. They require cooler water than our local trout, so they stick to the higher-elevation tributaries above the dam.

As for other trout types like Cutthroats or Lake Trout, you’re not going to run into them in our part of the country. Cutthroats like colder temperatures and different stream conditions than what we’ve got. And Lake Trout are found in deep, cold lakes of Northern U.S. and Canada. They need really cold water all year round, deeper than what any of our rivers around here can offer. (Lake Trout are lake dwellers by nature—they don’t do the river or stream life.)

Rainbow Trout are here in big numbers because they’re pretty tough and can handle a variety of conditions. They like the water flows we get here, which come steady and cool from the dam upstream. Our setup keeps the oxygen levels up and the temperature just right, making it a good place for them to feed and grow.

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Rainbow Trout in the Toccoa River are regularly restocked. This practice helps maintain a healthy and sustainable fish population, especially since Rainbow Trout are not native to our area. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources oversees the stocking program, which ensures that the river remains a popular destination for fishing enthusiasts. Through these efforts, the Toccoa River provides an ideal environment for Rainbow Trout to thrive, offering excellent fishing opportunities year-round.

Now, Brown Trout, they’ve got a knack for surviving in slightly warmer waters compared to what brookies and some other kinds of trout prefer. Browns are good at finding the best hiding spots too, like under rocks or in deeper pools, where they can keep cool and jump out to grab a meal. From these covert spots, Brown Trout can effectively dart out to capture passing prey, which typically includes insects, smaller fish, and other aquatic organisms.

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Their ability to adapt to different parts of the river helps them thrive here. This behavioral adaptability, combined with their physiological tolerance for warmer water, allows Brown Trout to successfully establish and maintain their populations.

As for Brook Trout, they really need colder water to do well, which is why you won’t find them in the Toccoa generally. Brookies are smaller and a bit less aggressive than other types of trout so they have to stick to the tributaries, streams, and other niche areas above the Blue Ridge Dam where they can compete. Even there, their presence is limited since the Georgia DNR mainly focuses on restocking rainbow and brown trout.

Each of our local trout types has figured out their own way to adapt and thrive in the conditions that the North Georgia mountains have to offer. That’s why Rainbow and Brown Trout are the main types you’ll hook when you’re out here fishing.

Of course when you’re targeting trout in the Toccoa River, you might end up tangling with a few other types of game fish that like to swim in these waters too:

  • Smallmouth Bass hang around some of the same spots as the trout, especially around rocky areas and faster-moving sections of the river.
  • You might also come across some Sunfish, especially Bluegill. These aren’t as big or as tough as trout or bass, but they’re plenty in the shallower, warmer parts of the river.
  • Then there’s the Walleye. They’re rare but still possible to catch in the Toccoa, especially in the deeper, slower-moving parts. They’re sneaky and tend to feed more during low light conditions.

While you might run across some other species here at the Toccoa, it’s trout that folks come to the Toccoa to fish for. It’s great to know there’s a healthy mix of species in the river, but if you’re here to catch lots of trout, you’re in the right place.

When to Hit the River

You can fish the Toccoa River all year long, but the best times are from late March through October. This period dodges the coldest months, and the water flow is ideal because of the regulated releases from the dam. These releases keep the water temperatures just right, encouraging active trout feeding.

The trout are more likely to go after your bait or fly because they’re out hunting for food themselves. Plus, the regular water flow brings more oxygen into the river, making it an even better environment for the trout.

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Remember: You can pretty much drop a line in any time of year and expect to have a decent day. But if you’re aiming for the absolute best conditions, you’ll want to mark your calendar from late March through October.

Choosing Trout Bait & Flies

In the Toccoa, live bait like worms or corn can work well, especially if you’re looking to relax and enjoy a laid-back day by the water. They’re easy to use, and the trout in these parts go for them pretty well, especially if the water’s a bit murkier or running high after some rain.

Now, if you’re more into fly fishing, that’s where you can really match wits with the trout. Stocking up on nymphs and streamers is going to be your best bet. These flies are designed to imitate the kinds of bugs and small critters that Georgia trout feed on naturally.

  • Nymphs look like the larval stage of insects, which is a major food source for trout year-round, but especially from late spring through fall when you’ve got a lot of insect activity.
  • Streamers are another good choice because they mimic small fish or larger aquatic insects, like hellgrammites and leeches, that are moving through the water. These can be especially effective when the trout are looking for a bigger meal.

During the hatch seasons, which usually peak in the spring and early summer here in the North Georgia mountains, the trout can get really focused on whatever type of insect is hatching at the time. Could be mayflies, caddisflies, or stoneflies. Having flies that look like these insects can make a big difference.

You’ll often hear fly fishermen talking about “reading the water.” This means you’re looking for spots where mountain trout are likely to be feeding—like faster runs where insects get swept by the current, or quiet pools where fish might wait for food to come to them. Then you cast your fly into these areas and manipulate it with your line, making it dance or drift just right.

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“Match the hatch” is another phrase you’ll hear a lot among fly fishers, especially when you’re out chasing trout. It just means you want to use a fly that looks just like the insects that are currently hatching and floating around on the water or flying above it. You take a close look, figure out what they are, and then dig into your fly box to find a fly that mimics that exact bug in size and color.

Pro Tip: If you’re seeing lots of bugs on the water or flying around, chances are the trout are feeding on them. Local fly shops and trout fishing guides can clue you in on what’s hatching and help you choose the best flies. Remember, the more your bait looks like what the trout are eating naturally, the better your chances are of landing one.

Here are a few more tips for choosing the right bait or fly for trout:

  • Consider the Weather and Water Clarity: On days when the water’s running clear and it’s bright out, trout can be a bit more cautious. This is a good time to use smaller, more subtle flies—think about using finer lines and smaller hooks too. Midges, tiny nymphs, or dry flies that sit gently on the water’s surface can be particularly effective.
  • Adapt to the Season: Besides matching the hatch during active insect seasons, consider what the trout might be feeding on during the colder months. Like in late fall and winter, when insect activity is low, trout might rely more on food sources like small minnows or leftover larvae from earlier hatches. This is when streamers and larger nymphs can really shine.
  • Experiment with Fly Colors: Sometimes, the key to success is simply switching up colors. If you’re not getting bites with your usual patterns, try something in a contrasting color. If a natural brown isn’t working, switch to something with a bit of flash or a brighter hue, or vice versa.

Pro Tip: Especially in the summer months, don’t forget about terrestrial patterns like ants, beetles, and grasshoppers. Trout are opportunistic feeders, and they’ll often take advantage of whatever food sources are readily available. On windy days or near areas with lots of vegetation like grassy banks, it’s common for ants, beetles, grasshoppers, and other terrestrial insects to end up in the water. These patterns might not be something the trout see as often, making them more curious or less wary about striking.

Choosing Your Gear

When you’re gearing up to hit the Toccoa River, make sure you’ve got the right stuff. Depending on what you’re aiming to catch and where you’re planning to fish, you might need to tweak your gear a bit.

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For rod and reel, you’re mostly looking at a medium-light to medium setup if you’re spinning, or a 5 to 6-weight fly rod if you’re flying. These work great for the kind of trout you’ll find in the Toccoa. The river isn’t too wild, but it’s got enough pull to make a heavier line worth your while, especially if you hook into a hefty brown.

A 5 to 6 weight rod strikes a balance between being flexible enough for accurate and gentle casting, which is critical for fly fishing, and powerful enough to manage the fight with a trout that’s on the heavier side of what you might catch in that river. It gives you enough power to handle a 10-pound test line, which means it can cope with the stronger pull of larger fish. It’s ideal for medium-sized trout, but provides enough backbone to handle bigger trout while still being light enough to work comfortably with smaller fish.

Line wise, you’ll want something that can handle a bit of a fight, but not so heavy or visible that it spooks the trout. 6 to 10-pound test should do the trick, and can handle large browns and rainbows. It’s sensitive enough for you to feel slight nibbles or changes in line movement, while being sturdy enough to withstand the occasional snag on underwater rocks or fallen trees, which are common in flowing waters. This range also allows for smoother casts and better control, helping you place your bait or fly exactly where you want it.

Don’t forget to check if the area you’re fishing has any special rules. Like many trout waters in Georgia, there are specific regulations and rules that can vary depending on the section of the river you’re fishing in.

For example, the river has areas designated as delayed harvest, which are subject to catch-and-release regulations during certain months, typically from November 1 to May 14. During this period, fishermen are required to use only artificial lures with barbless hooks, and all trout caught must be released immediately.

Outside of these designated areas and times, different sections of the river might have varying limits on the number of trout you can keep per day. It’s important to check the latest Georgia Department of Natural Resources regulations or Toccoa River fishing reports for any changes or specific rules before you head out.

Pack your gear accordingly, respect the local rules, and you’ll be all set for a great day on the Toccoa.

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Final Thoughts

When you’re planning trout fishing trips in North Georgia, the Toccoa River should be at the top of your list. Whether you’re fishing the stretch below the dam or soaking up the fishing culture in Blue Ridge, you’re in for a great time that might just turn you into a regular on these waters.

Toccoa River Fishing Guide

Want to make the most of your time trout fishing in North Georgia? Toccoa River Anglers has got you covered. Our head guide and owner, Dell Neighbours, has been guiding here since 2008—and we’re all about giving you an awesome fishing experience. We’ll take you to the best fishing spots and share tips that’ll have you catching trout in no time.

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Why Fish with Toccoa River Anglers?

  • Experienced Guides: With Dell Neighbours leading the way, our team has the local knowledge to take you to the best fishing spots on the Toccoa River.
  • Quality Experience: Whether you’re a complete beginner wanting to learn fly fishing or an advanced angler looking for trophy trout, we tailor our trips to suit your needs.
  • Scenic Float Trips: Our boats can accommodate 1 or 2 anglers, making for a perfect outing on the river. If you’ve got more folks in your party, just give us a call to arrange extra boats and guides.
  • Diverse Fishing Grounds: We cover the Toccoa River tailwater, a 15-mile stretch known for its Brown and Rainbow Trout, with some Smallmouth and Spotted Bass mixed in. We also offer trips on the upper Toccoa above Lake Blue Ridge, depending on water flows and temperatures.

Don’t miss out on the best trout fishing adventures in North Georgia! Feel free to give us a call at (706) 897-4252 or click here to book your trip online with Toccoa River Anglers!