Too much rain has the more than 4,000 miles of heavily-stocked trout streams in North Georgia with excess water and more color than usual. Nevertheless, for those seeking a unique trout fishing adventure, other options are available in higher areas that are least affected by the heavy rains. These places offer an excellent opportunity to catch brook trout, which is the only true trout that is native to the Eastern United States.
Native brook trout are easily distinguished by cream colored spots on a dark background. The spots along the back are elongated and appear worm-like, but the spots below the lateral line are round, red, and each is surrounded by a bluish halo. The fins along the bottom of brook trout have a distinctive white leading edge followed by a black streak with the rest of the fin displaying various shades of red, orange, and yellow.
Tiny brook trout require clean, clear, cold streams in order to thrive. Therefore, the vast majority of these streams are small headwater streams found in scattered locations throughout the higher elevations of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Like the brown trout, brook trout spawn in the fall in shallow depressions in clean stream gravel. Their eggs incubate though the winter months and hatch out in the early spring.
Casting to Brookies in a small streamAccording to trout guide, Bob Borgwat, all small brook trout are opportunistic feeders and will eat whatever they can find in the small streams. They prefer aquatic insects that live under the rocks along the stream bottom, but are also known to feed heavily on the adult stage of these insects as they hatch and take flight during their brief courtship and egg laying cycle. Also, ants and beetles that fall into the water are readily eaten as are small crayfish and minnows, which makes brookies vulnerable to many lures and fly patterns.
True trout fishermen and conservationists prize the tiny brook trout as a game fish. Because of their small size, however, most brook trout streams support low numbers of adult trout and these should be returned to the stream to spawn again. Borgwat also strongly recommends the use of artificial flies or other small lures when fishing for native brook trout to minimize hooking injuries.
Though many headwater streams still have healthy populations of “native specs,” reaching these areas without the knowledge of an experienced fishing guide like Bob Borgwat can be both dangerous and futile. Therefore, if one wishes to catch and observe these rare fish in their natural habitat during these high water times, reservations are necessary. Borgwat can be contacted by phone at 770-827-6657 or 706-838-4992 and email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In general, Georgia’s trout season runs from March 26 until October 31, but some trout streams are open year round. Other streams are seasonal or have special regulations, so anglers should always consult the current Georgia Sport Fishing Regulations guidebook before fishing.
Trout fishing opportunities vary and include heavily stocked creeks and lakes, unstocked wilderness rivers, and streams with special regulations. The “Trout Streams of Georgia” map includes state trout streams, nearby roads, and a list of recommended streams. Lakes stocked with trout are also listed. Those interested can view the trout stream map by county through the WRD website at www.gofishgeorgia.com or pick up a free copy at any WRD Fisheries Management Office.
Georgia anglers between the ages of 16 and 64 must possess a valid fishing license and trout stamp to fish in designated trout waters and to fish for or possess trout. Resident senior lifetime and honorary license holders are not required to have a trout license, and landowners and their immediate families may fish on their own property without a trout license.
Non-residents, regardless of age, must have a non-resident license and a trout license to fish for or possess trout or to fish in designated trout waters. Licenses are inexpensive and readily available through license agents, by phone at 1-888-748-6887, or through the WRD website at www.gofishgeorgia.com.