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 (

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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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