Conserving, protecting and restoring cold-water watersheds of North Georgia.
By Bob Borgwat/ReelAnglingAdventures.com
In North Carolina and Tennessee, it's October 1 ...
In Georgia it's November 1 ...
Both dates mark the season opening day for catch-and-release fishing on selected waters across the southern Appalachian Mountains, where the local fishing regulations limit anglers to flies and artificial lures only, most of them including restrictions that call for single-hooks only.
It's a time of year when fly-fishermen make up the majority of the anglers you'll see on these special trout waters that carry these restrictions well into 2022. Before you fish, check each state's fishing regulations for specific rules and demarcation of the DH water you plan to visit.
It's no secret anymore. The best trout fishing in wintertime across the southern Appalachian Mountains is often found in the "delayed harvest" trout waters of Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee.
The program restricts trout fishing on these sites to catch-and-release fishing only, using artificial lures/flies with single hooks. All trout caught must be released immediately unharmed.
DH Rules Found Here:
On Nov. 1, just 10 miles outside Blue Ridge, a short-but-sweet, mile-long stretch of the upper Toccoa River opens its DH season through May 15, 2022.
Stocked four times from November through March, the area locals call "Sandy Bottoms" attracts wading anglers and floating anglers alike along a rugged stretch of national forest off Old Dial Road. The short stretch is popular with anglers in small drift boats and float tubes. Wading anglers hope river flows drop to less than 300 cfs to safely navigate the riverway on foot. Click here to read the Dial river gauge.
Other "DH" waters in Georgia include Smith Creek at Unicoi State Park near Helen; Amicalola Creek east of Jasper; the Chattooga River east of Clayton; and the Chattahoochee River near I-75 in the Atlanta suburbs.
Just 35 miles from Blue Ridge, the Hiwassee River "DH" section includes 7 miles of prime Tennessee trout habitat on the largest river in the region. Both wading and float-fishing is supported on the scenic river at Reliance, where the "DH" section stretches down the tailwater from the powerhouse release gates to the railroad trestle in Reliance.
Beware: The HIwassee is big water -- up to 200 yards wide -- with variable flow rates and big shoals of class II and III whitewater. Waders watch for minimum flows of 150 cfs, while drift-boats require minimum flows of 1,800-3,000 cfs to safely clear the rocky river bottom. Click here to check river flows daily.
About an hour's drive east from Blue Ridge, out around US Highway 76 near Topton, NC, arguably the most ideal fly-fishing water in the region lies at roadside along Wayah Road. Here, the Nantahala River DH section winds and tumbles its way 4 miles down a steep gradient that features plunge pools, boulder gardens, long glides and stair-stepped ledges. On "the Nanty" ou can learn everything you need to know about fly-fishing just beyond the pavement's edge. Eventually, the "DH" is stocked with about 18,000 trout by the time the season ends on June 4, 2022. Play the water level here by ear ... there is no reliable water gauge available to read on the Nantahala DH.
Other DH waters nearby in North Carolina include a mile-long piece of Fires Creek near Hayesville; nearly 3 miles of Big Snowbird Creek near Robbinsville; a 2+ miles long stretch of the Tuckaseegee River near Bryson City; and 6 miles more of "the Tuck" at Webster.