More Winter Trouting Tips
a. Air temp predictions at weather.com (ten-day forecast)
b. Water temp trends on a few USGS stream gauges: Chattooga at Burrells Ford, Hooch in Helen (http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ga/nwis/rt)
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.” (http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/ngto/)
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???