More Winter Trouting Tips

1. “Net-Fish” Beforehand: The Internet !!!

A.   Temperature

a.     Air temp predictions at (ten-day forecast)

b.     Water temp trends on a few USGS stream gauges: Chattooga at Burrells Ford, Hooch in Helen  (

c.     Know that tailwaters (Smith, Hooch, Toccoa) are slightly warmer

B.    Water Flow

a.     USGS gauges – see website, above

b.     Chattooga Wading Tips

i.     Hwy 76 gauge < 2.0 = easy wading

ii.     2.0 – 2.3 = increasing difficulty

iii.     2.4 – 2.6 = can’t ford; fish from bank

1.     (DH Tip – walk in Nicholson Ford Road)

c.     Wading safely = belt, staff, and a buddy

C.    Fishing Reports

a.     NGTO – website, enter via “message board” and “jump right in.” (

b.     Call fly shops

2. Dress for Success = Layering

A.   Breathable poly underwear (Starter at Wal Mart)

B.    Nylon shirt and pants (Bass Pro, Academy)

C.    Fleece or wool jacket and pants

D.   Wicking sock and 1-2 pair of wool socks.

E.    Loose fitting waders and shoes (winter pair)

F.    2-3 pair of gloves (fleece, wool)

G.   Chemical hand warmers (“Hot Hands”)

H.   Butane lighter for emergency fire

I.      Dress indoors or warm your waders in the car

J.     Carry spare set of dry clothes in car

K.   Steelhead fishing websites have great tips!

3. Time your Trip

A.   Follow sun’s effect on water temps

B.    Winter window = 11 AM to 4 PM.  Don’t go early!!!

C.    Switch turns off when sun falls behind ridge

D.   Planning tips:

a.     Pre-rig your rod at home (warm hands)

b.     Arrive at 11, eat in car, fish 12 – 4, supper in Clayton at 5:30

4. Onstream Tips

A.   First take a water temp (see #7)

B.    Follow the sun

C.    Limit deep wading or take breaks to thaw out

D.   High-grade the honey holes

E.    Fish SLOW water

F.    Fish deep and repeat – bump them in the nose

G.   Limit false casts to reduce tangles and iced guides

H.   Fish a short line with a strike indicator (Lightning Strike, Thingamabobber)

I.      Expect subtle strikes (“Zen” fishing) and set the hook often!

J.     Fish smaller flies

a.     First fly, on 3X or 4X = #14 peach egg, #10 black bugger, #10 brown stonefly, or #14 prince

b.     Dropper fly, on 4X or 5X = #16-20 pheasant tail, #16 prince, #18-20 zebra midge

5. Best Bets

A.   Smith Creek DH – pound the pools with eggs, pheasant tails, and pellet flies

B.    Dukes Creek – trophy hunt the pools and spawning riffles with stoneflies, mohair leeches, pheasant tails, and midges

C.    Chattooga DH – use 12 feet of thin mono (8lb test) as leader with enough lead.  Fish the heads of biggest pools with eggs and pheasant tails. Watch for hatching blue wing olives (BWO’s).

D.   Chattahoochee DH – envision as parallel series of small streams. Fish each small stream and move across river before moving upstream. Eggs, buggers, and pheasant tails on bottom. BWO’s on top when noses show.

E.    Amicalola DH – try Hwy 53 ledges and use the Hooch DH “across” method.

F.    Tuckaseegee River DH (NC) – see Hooch DH. GA streams usually better in winter because they’re a few degrees warmer.

G.   Nantahala River DH (NC) – see Smith DH. Gorge limits sunlight hours. Carry some BWO’s and 6X tippet for warm, overcast days.

6. Closing Remarks

A.   Beautiful time of year

B.    Dress right to enjoy it

C.    Scenery and solitude cure cabin fever

D.   Pleasant surprises on end of line are an added bonus

7. Addendum – The Rabunite Thermometer

Water Temp Action

A.   <40 and falling      watch the icebergs

B.    <40 and rising       bring hope

C.    40-45                     bring a net

D.   45-50                     bring net and a camera

E.    50-55                     bring some dries, too

F.    55-62                     bring a friend with a camera

G.   62-68                     bring supper and a flashlight

H.   >68                        bring breakfast and an iceberg!

Good luck!  Got a camera???

Apr 6: Rabunite 101!

Ever wanted to try your hand at fly-fishing for trout but never learned the in’s and out’s of it? 

Ever wonder why some people seem to get so “hooked” on it?

Now’s your chance! The Rabun Chapter of Trout Unlimited is planning a half-day fly-fishing seminar for adults. More info here. 


2019 Dream Trip Raffle

The opportunity to fish with John McGarity, stay in his fabulous log cabin conveniently located between the Madison River, Yellowstone National Park and the Henry’s Fork puts you smack dab in the middle of some of the most famous trout waters in North America. Details here.

Calling All Trout Campers! Time To Apply

Trout Camp 2019 is set for June 2-7, at Tallulah Falls School, Clayton, GA! Applications due March 15.

Read more here.


Congratulations to Monte Seehorn

Rabunite Monte Seehorn, retired USFS fisheries biologist, was recently inducted into Southern Trout’s “Legends of the Fly” Hall of Fame! More details here