galJoseph with some nice trout from the lower HoochThough a recent cold snap made it uncomfortable to remain outside in a fishing boat on the lake, the Chattahoochee River below Lake Lanier is still teeming with hungry trout and plentiful photo opportunities. The scenery is breathtaking! Redtail hawks, ospreys, or an occasional eagle can be observed overhead, and the lower river constantly produces nearly 50 explosive brown and rainbow trout on an all day trip.
Despite the absence of adequate boat ramps available throughout the river, anyone with a canoe or small, aluminum jon boat can carefully fish the river. Nevertheless, a few of the rapids and other shallow places can be rather difficult for any novice.

The trout, however, are found almost anywhere in the river in both the fast and slower water areas as well as the deep and shallow parts. These wily fish utilize rocks or fallen trees as cover from which to attack any edible creature that might be swept by with the current, and many of these hiding places are right down the middle of the river.

Though trout will hit a multitude of tiny lures, the most productive artificial offerings seem to be the smaller floating or sinking Rapalas, tiny crankbaits, spoons, or Swirleybird spinners. When using Rapalas, the floaters usually work better in shallower water that often has underwater vegetation or other obstructions. In deeper, slower sections of the river, the sinking version of the Rapala is better for attracting the hungry trout. Gold is normally the most popular color, but many other brighter shades of lures have been successful.

galHeading down aq falls on the lower Hooch in my jet boatSince the river has lots of crawfish and stone flies, dark colored Swirleybirds or crawfish-colored crankbaits are great lure choices. Small plastic worms in red or other bright colors are also deadly if the river becomes slightly stained from rain or other runoff, and the new Flyrod Swirleybird cast with an ultra-light spinning outfit or fly rod has proven to be very productive.

The early morning or late evening hours provide a darker, foggy atmosphere that makes trout quite active in the clear waters of the “Hooch”. Overcast days can also be excellent, but morning seems to be the best time.

The logistics of fishing a fast river with all the currents, obstacles, and rapids can be a chore. Therefore, it is often better to hire an experienced river fishing guide the first time by going to

Neophyte river fishermen have trouble “reading” the river and often cast indiscriminately, instead of fishing specific targets. Nevertheless, the Chattahoochee River has a healthy population of trout that are fairly easy to catch. So, instead of running off to some exotic waters this spring, enjoy the beauty of the “Hooch” and experience some of the best springtime trout fishing available anywhere!

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