By: Chris Shaffer
This week will be one of the busiest of the year on the Tallulah River in North Georgia. The good news is the Georgia Department of Natural Resources knows that and is reacting accordingly by loading the river up with trout. The better news is they’ve been doing this weekly since March. In short, even with heavy pressure trout will be available to anglers. The river has been full of trout all season.
Higher than normal water has been a theme in North Georgia this spring and summer. The Tallulah River has followed that pattern. The higher than normal flows has been great for fishing. It’s kept the water cooler and the trout aggressive. Some years the river can’t be stocked in the summer due to higher water temperatures. Fortunately, this isn’t one of those. The river will continue to be stocked weekly through Labor Day.
After flows soared in late May the river is still running high, but in great shape for fishing. We called John Lee Thompson, the Trout Stocking Coordinator for the Georgia DNR, to check on up to the minute conditions on the Tallulah River.
“We had a lot of rain last week, but it didn’t alter our stocking schedule,” he told us. “Flows are still up and what that’s done is made it so the trout aren’t right at the stocking points. The high water has moved them around. They are well distributed throughout the river. It’s more like springtime flows right now. These are water levels that are expected in April, but they are persistent in July this year. This is keeping temperatures down and fishing good. Trout like cold water.”
Thompson reminded us that the Georgia DNR has been stocking larger than average trout this summer. Most of them have been rainbows. Meanwhile, some browns will be planted this week.
“We are still stocking 10-12 inch fish. We have a lot of quality fish this year. Quality brown trout will be stocked in the river this week,” Thompson added. “The river should be getting about 1,500 fish this week.”
We fished the river late this spring in high flows and had a blast catching and releasing dozens of trout while filming Pautzke Outdoors. Due to the high water, similar to where it is now, it was easy to locate trout. Trout will be found in spots where they can avoid fast flowing water, namely in pockets, pools, deep holes and behind large boulders.
We caught most of the trout on Garlic Salmon Egg Fire Bait and Gold Label salmon eggs. As soon as they became conditioned to those we switched to Red and Chartreuse Anise Fire Balls. For best success it’s important to use light tackle. This means nothing heavier than four-pound test, small Water Gremlin BB split shots and typical Eagle Claw size 10-14 single salmon egg hooks.
Editor’s Note: Pautzke Fire Bait, Fire Balls and salmon eggs are available at North Georgia Walmart locations and Bass Pro Shops. For more information on trout fishing in Georgia please visit https://georgiawildlife.com/Fishing/Trout.