Fishing in the Drought

By Jeff Durniak, Georgia Wildlife Resources Division

A. Winter (December – February)

1. Look behind before looking ahead

a. Have trout populations recovered?

2. Droughts good for spawning – stable flows

3. “Gauge” your stream – USGS Real Time Water Data

4. Low water = large stream accessibility

5. South slopes = sunshine and warmer water

6. Fish the afternoons (11AM to 3 PM)

7. Fresh fish like junk food: Y2K, egg, fly, san juan worm

8. Residents love tiny pheasant tails (sizes 18 – 20)

9. Cold fish react slower–find slow water

10.Best bets: Hooch DH, Toccoa tailwater, Smith DH, Chattooga DH, Dukes Creek

B. Spring (March – May)

1. Low water is tough on adult trout habitat, but easy on wading!

2. Droughts are easy on sac fry and fingerlings

3. Universal search rig: parachute Adams dry fly and prince nymph dropper (Size14)

4. Let your fishing follow the water temperatures and hatches: Noon to dusk to “dark – thirty”

5. Hatch charts at “Tight Lines”

6. Everything is good! Best bets: largest freestone streams, the two tailwaters

7. Must tries: Georgia “speck” streams, NC’s Nantahala DH near Andrews.

C. Summer (June – September)

1. Add a month to spring by going to NC (extra thousand feet of elevation)

2. Ole reliable–two GA tailwaters

3. Go high – headwater rainbow streams at top of watersheds: Hooch, Tallulah, West Fork Chattooga

4. Hit north slope streams like Noontootla

5. Scaledown-“six foot rod and six foot leader”

6. Attractor dries and terrestrials: yellow stimulator, coachman trude, ants, soft hackle wets (16-18)

7. Replace trout with other species:

a. River redeye and shoal bass

b. Pond bass and bream

c. Reservoir gar and carp

D. Fall (October – November)

1. Remember to look back – trout recovery?

2. Ole reliable–tailwaters

3. Get the Delayed Harvest jump in NC (October 1)

4. GA headwater trout last chance (October 31)

5. November = cooler weather and cooperative DH stockers

6. Find spawning browns

7. Best bets = tailwaters, NC DH (Tuckaseegee, Nantahala), Chattooga and Toccoa DH

E. Summary

1. Let the weather and the water be your trip guide; decide the day before

2. Change your destinations and tactics to match the seasons

3. Change species in summer

4. Add to your ranks. “Take one, make one” – Anglers Legacy, NGTO, Trout Business Cards.

5. Jeff’s email list for north GA news (

Rabun Rendezvous Returns!

Saturday. February 18, 2023

Dillard House Conference Center. Pig Pickin’ starts at 4:30 pm, Dinner at 6:30 pm. Read more.



Rabun TU Supports Smithgall Woods Regional Education Center

Smithgall Woods Regional Education Center offers programs for students of all ages in cooperation with the Georgia DNR& Wildlife Resources Division, State Parks and Historic Sites Division, and Pioneer RESA. Teacher workshops are held to help teachers learn more about North Georgia’s ecosystems and the unique opportunities available at Smithgall Woods. Learn More


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Call to Action! Attention All Rabunites!

If you are out fishing and see a stream conservation need (erosion control, bank restoration, trout structure maintenance, etc), contact the Georgia Council. Details here.


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