North Georgia Fly Fishing: Terrestrial Time on the North Slope
by David Hulsey for
A unique North flowing gem exists for North Georgia fly fishing enthusiasts. The Toccoa River starts way up in the rugged crags of the Southern Appalachian mountains, twisting and churning down the slopes in a bewildering number of small icy riverlets. Almost all that are just large enough to step over contain either Brown, Rainbow, or beautiful Brook trout. Some even contain a mixture of the three giving the lucky angler a shot at a true Appalachian Slam in a day’s time.
By the time the Toccoa River forms from these tiny streams it is truly an angler’s paradise. Summertime on the Toccoa river upstream of Blue Ridge Lake can go a couple of ways depending on where you choose to fish.
One is a blazing hot and dry summer that can push trout up out of the mainstream into the many feeder creeks making the main river the home of warmer water loving fish such as Smallmouth Bass. That’s cool too, I have no bias against the ole’ brown fish.
Or we can have a cool wet summer where the trout can find refuge in some of the deeper pools or at creek mouths and summer over. The later contains the best options for anglers. Big juicy rubber legged hopper patterns will take either Smallmouth or trout on a warm July day. Throw in a few clouds or a light drizzle and you can have some serious fun on the upper river.
Flowing Northward the Toccoa and its tributaries usually stay a couple of degrees cooler than the waters over the mountain to the South in the summer. This can mean life and death to the cold water loving trout. A trout hooked in 70 degree temperatures will almost surely die, so head up stream until you find a max temp in the upper 60’s or less.
Toccoa Tailwater: Excellent Spot for
North Georgia Fly Fishing
Downstream of Lake Blue Ridge and the Dam is the Toccoa Tailwater, another great spot for a North Georgia fly fishing trip. Cold water pumped from under the 120 foot deep dam comes out at about 50 degrees year round. In July grasshoppers, ants, bees, beetles or any other bug that has accidental entry into the cold water won’t last too long before being devoured by the hungry trout that inhabit the river. This is some of the most exciting fishing of the year with explosive strikes being the norm when they blast a hopper or beetle.
Best Times Not To Go to Toccoa
During periods of no generation on the river, casting an ant pattern up against the bank where there is good overhanging grass or bushes can provide steady action. During periods of generation in other words “water being released from the TVA dam” it is too dangerous to fish and the river should be avoided and greener pastures should be sought. The water can jump from 150 cfs to 1500 cfs in a matter of minutes and no one can stay upright in that kind of flow so be careful and visit the TVA website or give them a call to get the generation for that day.
Patterns for the summer on the Toccoa include Black Fur Ants size 16, Parachute Hoppers size 10, Chernobyl Ants size 10, and Black Quick Site Beetles size 12.