Last Wednesday, Nov. 1, was a great day for Georgia trout anglers. It marked the beginning of Georgia’s Delayed Harvest trout season, and judging from what I’m hearing this year’s Delayed Harvest fishing is off to a great start!
“Delayed Harvest” (or “DH,” as it’s often called) is a special fisheries program under which selected sections of five Georgia streams are managed under a special set of regulations through the DH season. DH waters are too warm for trout in the summertime. But during the DH season those same waters become cool enough to provide good trout habitat – and some potentially memorable trout fishing too.
Georgia’s DH season runs from Nov. 1 through May 14. During that time, designated Delayed Harvest waters are managed under a set of special regulations designed to provide good trout fishing through late fall, winter and early spring. You can find complete info at georgiawildlife.com, but here’s a summary of what the DH regs require:
• Catch and release only (all fish must be returned to the water immediately)
• Artificials only (no live or digestible bait of any form is permitted)
• Single-hook lures only (every fly or lure can only have a single hook; treble hooks are not permitted)
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ fisheries folks have done an outstanding job of getting the DH waters ready for the opening of this year’s DH season, and you’ll find several great fishing opportunities across the state. Here’s where they are:
• Amicalola Creek from Steele Bridge Road (County Road 192) downstream to the Georgia Highway 53 bridge
• Chattahoochee River from the mouth of Sope Creek downstream to U.S. 41
• Chattooga River (Rabun County) from the mouth of Reed Creek downstream to the Georgia 28 bridge
• Smith Creek in Unicoi State Park from below the Unicoi Lake dam downstream to the park boundary
• Toccoa River from 0.4 miles above Shallowford Bridge upstream to a point 450 feet upstream of the Sandy Bottom Canoe Access.
What’s working on the DH streams right now? If you’re using a spinning rod, try a Roostertail, a Mepps Spinner, or a white curly-tailed grub-and-jig. Use a light or ultralight spinning rig with 4- or 6-lb. line. Cast to deeper areas or to holes or other holding water near rocks, logs, or the bank. Flashy lures are working very well right now, though as the fish wise up you may need to go with something a little more subtle.
If you’re fly fishing, you should have success with egg imitations such as Y2Ks or pink 3-D Sucker Spawn flies, with San Juan Worms, and with bright and flashy streamers (minnow imitations) such as a Rolex fly, Hudson Streamer or Woolly Bugger. In fact, if you can find one (or if you tie flies) you can sometimes do really well with a hot-pink or all-orange Woolly Bugger fished deep and then stripped at the end of the drift. Yes, I said hot pink or all-orange. Those colors suggest the color of eggs, and when you’re fishing for recently-stocked DH fish a little “eggy-ness” in the fly can be all it takes!
DH waters offer a great opportunity to hone your trout fishing skills. They’re also excellent places to take young anglers and introduce them to trout fishing. Kids like to catch fish, and DH offers plenty of good opportunities. Set the kids up with a spinning rod and a trout-patterned Roostertail, and you just might make some memories!
In fact, if you’ve got kids in your fishing party, you’ll want to be sure to take note of the “stocking days” on several DH streams. As in years past, there will be opportunities for you and your family to become personally involved in supporting the DH program by being a part of one of the “volunteer-assisted” stocking days. On these days, volunteers help DNR fisheries personnel stock trout in some of the less-accessible parts of several DH streams. The first volunteer-assisted stocking event is held during the week of Thanksgiving (when the kids are out of school!) and it’s a blast. I’ll be letting you know more about this and other volunteer-assisted stocking days as they come up on the calendar.
Meanwhile, I look forward to seeing on the water. Be sure to say hello – I’ll be the one in the hat!