Starting at the mouth of Ruby Falls in Unicoi State Park, then going in to Unicoi Lake, then starting again below the dam at Unicoi Lake you have Smith Creek. Smith Creek is a year round stocked stream available to all anglers, however Smith Creek doesn’t really begin at Ruby Falls, it truly begins above the falls and has the possibility to have wild brook trout in its head waters (this I haven’t explored yet). Still yet Smith Creek might be one of the prettiest streams I have encountered here in Georgia and it is one of five Delayed Harvest Streams. The Delayed Harvest season here in Georgia is from November 1st – May 14th, and the Delayed Harvest section for Smith Creek is located from the mouth of Unicoi Dam to the Unicoi State Park boundary.
Honestly I am not being fictitious about how beautiful this stream is, it is truly an amazing freestone stream that is meticulously cleaned by the workers of the park. Also it has the best parking area that I have ever seen on a Delayed Harvest Stream, not to mention there is a set of permanent bathrooms on site. Realistically it feels like you are fishing at a resort, because technically you are.
The Stream, like I previous said, is a freestone stream that runs the mouth of Ruby Falls down to the Lake Unicoi. This section is only stocked during the summer time, take note that most of the fish here will probably fished out by the end of October, and looks like a mountain stream slowly meandering down to the lake. But the real gem of the stream is below the dam. Here you will find a quick moving stream that has long pockets, deep holes, several undercuts, and utterly beautiful water. From what I have seen, the State of Georgia does not slack off when it comes to DH waters, Georgia puts some slabs in these waters.
As far as fly fishing, using mop flies, squirmies, and streamers work really well during the stocked season and the early months of the DH season. However after these fish become more accustomed to the stream and its traditional meal base, fly fishermen need to switch over to more traditional flies (ie pat’s stonefly, prince nymphs, pheasant tails, hares ear, and zebra midges… especially zebra midges during the winter months, I cannot stress how important these flies are during the winter months). During the stocking season you can pretty much fine the stockers in the deeper sections or in fast runs, but during the DH season you need to cover all of the stream because of water temps and the fish being able to freely move.
Now for the bummer part! I know, I know, there is always a bummer part. Because Smith Creek is located in Unicoi State Park, and because of the Town of Helen, Georgia this stream gets hit hard year round. There really isn’t any good time to come here where you will be alone with the stream. However even though this stream can get very crowded I still would recommend it over some of the other streams here in Georgia just on how beautiful it is. Also there is a required parking pass that all visitors must purchase; you can get a yearly pass or you can get a day pass, I would strongly recommend just getting the yearly pass because this allows you to park in any Georgia State Park.
Well I finally found a place that is a spin fishermen’s dream come true, this stocked stream is very small and also very confined. You will be lucky to even be able to roll cast on this stream. Your best bet is to cast out just enough to carry your fly down the stream a bit, then using a tuck cast bring your fly or nymph back up stream to float down.
The stream is very small and confined, as I have previously said, however the stream seems to be a very healthy freestone stream. The main problem with this stream and why it should not really be considered is that it has very little public access, not even 30 yards. Also It is very tough to fish unless you are a very skilled in fishing in very confined areas. My advice is to go to Smith Creek if you are in the area.
Waters Creek… Bless it’s heart, it means well. That right there pretty much sums of Waters Creek, everything about it just screams I AM A TROUT STREAM, but sadly this is far from the truth. With that being said, work on Waters Creek is still on going so that it has a chance to become a wild trophy trout stream.
Waters Creek, which is a tributary to Dicks Creek, located in Lumpkin County, is a beautiful sandy/gravel bottom stream that is clean and cold. Trout Unlimited and the State of Georgia have done a lot of work on this stream, even making it one of the few streams that you can only fish on certain days of the week, signing in at the lodge located at the beginning of the stream. Honestly the possibilities are there for this stream to be completely refurbished and wild trout to flourish here, however it will cost a lot of money to get it there and to maintain it.
I have been to Waters Creek area several times on the days that fishing is not allowed on Waters Creek, the parking area for Dicks Creek is also used for Waters Creek, and I have seen fishermen coming off the trail to Waters Creek back to their vehicles, obviously the regulations are not being enforced like they are on Waters Creek sister regulated stream Dukes Creek, and anglers are going into this area at their leisure. Also I am seeing a lot of signs that the special regulations for artificial lures only on Waters Creek are also being ignored by the signs of power bait and worm containers that I see on the sides of the stream. This leads me to a highly educated guess that the locals or careless anglers that are in the know are coming to Waters Creek and fishing it out before the fish can even establish themselves.
Realistically if the State of Georgia wants to see this stream take off then they are going to have to set it up like Dukes Creek; gate it off, have Wardens on site daily, and realistically only open it from October to May. Also they need to gate off the stream so that the fish that are stocked in Waters Creek do not swim downstream and get into Dicks Creek. If not, I see any money and restoration put into Waters Creek being wasted.
Honestly I loathe being negative about a stream, especially one that is gorgeous and has such possibilities, I really love the area that Waters Creek and Dicks Creek are in, however I promised myself years ago when I started this site to tell the truth and that’s what I am doing. As far as how to fish Waters Creek I have no clue, I have only seen one fish in the stream and I have been skunked every time I have fished this stream. The only pointers I can really give you is about the gear you take; during the summer you can easily wet wade this area, just make sure your sandals have some studs in them. During the winter: waders that come down to your hip should be fine. As far as styles of fly fishing: there is plenty of room in places to dry fly fish, in other areas I can see where nymph fishing would be prime, and also I have seen areas that streamers should work. But like I mentioned above, I honestly have no clue what will definitely work – all I can do right now is guess. If by chance I do figure out Waters Creek I will update this section immediately. Also I will update this stream as stream restoration goes forward.
As I was going to get photos for this writeup I noticed that the stream has a lot of wild fingerlings in it. I am unsure of what type, they looked to be brook trout, so now I know this stream definitely has some wild fish in it, or some stocked fingerlings. With any hope these fish will grow up unscathed by natural predation and become big and strong. They are literally everywhere throughout the stream. Also it looks like some people have cleaned up the park tremendously. However the park still needs a lot of work and they need a Warden onsite, they only have a sign in sheet. What I did find hilarious was that someone was soo disgusted with the stream that they wrote, “What a f@#king joke of a creek GADNR,” in the guest sign in sheet.
Again I can only hope that this stream will get better as the years go by.
If you want a stream that is very beautiful, very technical, full of waterfalls, stealthy approaches, and very cold, clean water – then Jones Creek is the creek for you. Forming out of a natural spring in the mountains, the stream slowly meanders down from its head waters, gaining faster water as it hits several waterfalls below the Jones Creek Campground. There has been a lot of restoration efforts by the State of Georgia and Trout Unlimited to make this a wonderful wild brown trout stream. However these efforts are still in the works and have not totally taken a foot hold as of yet.
Imagine a stream that has some pretty significant pools, fast runs, and a lot of structure to hide in – not to mention a large amount of gravel beds that a brown trout can spawn in, this is Jones Creek. The bad part as I have mentioned earlier, is that this stream is just in the beginning stages of restoration, it might take twenty years to see this stream grow into what it could become. So with that, don’t take what I am about to say with a grain salt, Jones Creek is not going to be a trophy stream for years to come, it is not an easy stream to fish, you must be very stealthy (I would suggest wearing camo and felt boots) using long leaders or a euro leader setup, and I definitely wouldn’t fish heavy nymphs or streamers unless the stream was very high (ie after week of rain).
The main thing an angler that comes here must realize is that this stream is meant to be a “wild brown trout” stream, brown trout are known for being very easily spooked and they love to hide in undercuts. Because of this you might not even see a trout, thinking that it is a dead stream, and you will more than likely get skunked. Jones Creek is definitely not for those anglers that are wanting to catch trophy sized brown trout… yet.
However, if you are still reading this and you still want to fish this stream because you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the other trophy wild brown trout streams (Dukes Creek, the Chattahoochee River, or any of the other tail waters in Georgia) then you need to heed my advice. Be as sneaky as you can! Seriously; sneaky, sneaky, sneaky! Do not wear bright colored clothing, wear camo or something very drab, also I would suggest felt boots or sole less moccasins. Also take the bare minimum with you, rod, one or two fly boxes, tippet, and floatant. Realistically you will want to be able to carry everything you need in the pockets of your jeans or pants, you really don’t want to carry a bag with you when you are fishing Jones Creek. It’s all about stealth on this creek. Realistically treat Jones Creek as if you were fishing for brook trout. Be prepared to not see a fish, if you do see one be prepared to never catch it, be prepared to be skunked on a regular basis here, and if by some miracle you do catch one of the gems of this creek treasure it like it is gold!
When it comes to casting: make very few false casts, be very accurate to hit right on the edges of rocks and logs, start from the bottom of the pools and work your way up to its mouth. If you are nymph fishing: start fishing a line very close to you and work your way out from there, again its worth mention that you should use a euro nymph setup on this stream or a very buggy indicator (New Zeland Strike Indicators). As for fishing streamers, don’t! Not unless there has been a very significant rain and the creek is raging, this will be the only time that you could sneak a small streamer into this creek. Finally it is worth mentioning that if you are into Tenkara fly fishing, then this stream would be a very good stream to use a Tenkara rod on.
Noontootla Creek is an extremely technical stream to fish – if you want a beautiful stream to fish, one that is literally in what seems like a very big gorge, a stream that is shaded by massive and ancient trees, but also a stream that is liable to skunk you… then Noontootla Creek is the creek for you. Simply put Noontootla Creek is an ass kicking waiting to happen, I hate to be so blunt but it is what it is.
Because of serious angler pressure Noontootla’s wild trout have become very suspicious of everything that flows through this creek, to be honest I am surprised that they just do not starve to death. I have been there several times and have been skunked almost all of those times. Honestly it might be harder to fish here than in any water in that I have fished to date. If I hadn’t caught and seen a trout there I would honestly write this off as a barren stream, one that the state of Georgia has lied about. However to my astonishment there are trout in this stream, they are just very intelligent because of the pressure they receive daily… yes daily. I have never been to Noontootla Creek and been the only angler there. Besides dealing with anglers also know that you will have to deal with campers, bikers, hikers, and hunters year round.
Besides being one of the toughest streams I have ever fished, Noontootla Creek might also be one of the prettiest stream that I have seen, not to mention it has everything that an trout angler would want in a stream. There are tons of big boulders, fast runs, deep drop offs, deep holes, small holes, long pools, long riffles, and a lot of room to cast. Granted some areas are infested with my nemesis, Laurels, but for the most part You can overhead cast with ease, you can tuck and roll cast to anywhere in this stream. Noontootla is also a great spot to euro nymph fish, actually I would almost dare to say that euro nymph fishing or dry fly fishing is the best way to catch fish in this stream. However, if you are not dry fly fishing or euro nymph fishing, then stick to a very small strike indicator, like a New Zealand Strike Indicator, that does not cause a lot surface commotion that would spook trout. Also I would suggest using a slightly longer leader, like a 12 foot leader, instead of the traditional 9 foot leader. This way a majority of your fly line is out of the water and not spooking fish.
Realistically I cannot stress enough that you must be very sneaky and stealthy when you fish this creek. You don’t necessarily have to go fish this stream in camo, or be so stealthy that you are not enjoying yourself, but understand that fishing here is like fishing for brook trout at all times, which are also in this creek at its head waters (nod, nod, wink, wink).
Remember that you are in bear country, that you will not have a lot (if any) cell phone service, and you will be miles from the nearest doctor’s office. Take appropriate precautions before going to fish here. Use the pull off spaces that are available, trying to stay out of camping spots if you are not going to be camping there. Also since there are a lot of people that visit this area I would lock up your vehicle while you are gone, do not leave anything in it that a person could possibly steal. I have heard of several vehicles that had windows smashed and several hundreds of dollars’ worth of equipment being taken. Finally, just reemphasizing that you are in bear country, I would say that you should also carry, or at the very least have a bell on you as you walk this stream, you can never be too careful when you are in the backwoods.
Nimblewill is a marvelous cute freestone/clay bed stream, that is in the middle of nowhere. If you are wanting to go fishing for stocked trout and want absolute seclusion then this stream is a must. The only downside to fishing here is that it is in a primitive campground area, so there are the occasional campers and fishermen that you will have to deal with. If you don’t mind this then Nimblewill is a lot of fun. Actually the first time I explored here I had more on the road to Nimblewill then I did actually fishing there, the stream crosses the stream several times before you get to a good fishing area so you in up with a very wet and muddy vehicle before leaving.
Realistically this stream is not the best stream for trout, because of very weak water flow. During the summer and fall, unless an angler was to fish after a thunderstorm, the stream is very shallow in almost all areas. There are only a few large holes that can hold trout, providing them with the oxygen that they need. However there are a couple fast riffles here and there that keep the stocked trout going. Aim towards fishing these larger holes and riffles.
Usually, and what makes Nimblewill a very nice spot to fish, the stocked trout tend to school together and you can catch ten to twenty fish in just one hole. It is absolutely one of the best places for a beginner fly fishermen to hone their skills on; they will catch fish, they can practice almost every cast, and there is very little pressure. Just don’t expect any size in the fish that you catch. It is also a perfect place to take a person on a date on if they are interested in learning to fly fish, like I said before it is just a great place to learn and it will you
Besides mostly being on private property the sections that are open to the public make Dicks creek one of the prettiest gems of the Northern Georgia trout streams. Nested in one of the gorges that run through Northern Georgia, Dicks creek is a major limestone creek that every angler should visit at least once. What makes Dicks creek such a wonderful place to go to is it’s monstrous waterfalls, yes I am very much a sucker for waterfalls. But the fishing here is also brilliant, above and below the falls. However one could easily be discouraged by Dicks creek by seeing all of the water that is located on private property, that water just screams “fish are in these waters.”
Even though the prettiest parts of Dicks creek are in private waters, the rest of the stream is a delightful place to fish for all skill levels. I mainly focus on the waters below the falls down to the “No Trespassing” sign and the waters from the parking area, located at the trail of Waters Creek, down to the head of the waterfalls. These waters are moving very fast in certain sections, and in others they are dropping down to form enormous deep holes. I am almost certain that there are holdover trout in these waters that are becoming giants. However I am also certain that a majority of the holdover trout are getting into the waters below the “No Trespassing” sign and probably spawning.
When fishing these waters use a two nymph dropper system and make sure you are fishing them very deep. The fish here also love squirmmies, mop flies, and Pat’s stoneflies. I would not bother fishing dry flies at all, well not unless you see fish hitting the surface on a regular basis. Also I would not recommend using streamers here, the reason I say this is that I have seen too many spin fishermen here that have constantly gotten skunked using spinning flies while I am catching fish, using nymphs, on every other cast.
Above the parking area at Waters creek trail head the water here are very slow and meandering. Occasionally you will find a good deep hole, but for the most part this area is a slow riffle area. In this area I recommend using a single nymph set up or using a streamer, casting the streamer to the other bank and quickly moving it back across to yourself.
How can I describe High Shoals Creek? A place that I never thought would have existed here in Georgia. A place that is so incredibly like Virginia, a place that has such great beauty, while is absolutely so frustrating. I guess I can describe it for those that are familiar to the brook trout scene in Virginia with three words: Little Stony Creek. It reminds me soo much of Little Stony Creek that I can not put my head around it at times, it has all of the characteristics and all of the headaches.
For those that are not familiar with Little Stony Creek or the Cascades (as the stream is generally known as), Little Stony is one of Virginia’s premier native brook trout and wild rainbow trout streams. It is one of the few heavily restricted streams in Virginia because of such. However it is also one of Virginia’s most popular hiking destination because of the beautiful water falls at the end of a two mile hike. Honestly it is one of the bane’s of my existence during heavy tourist season.
Just like Little Stony Creek, High Shoals Creek, is a beautiful hike to two amazing water falls, it also has some of the prettiest native brook trout and wild rainbow trout in it, and of course there are a billion tourist that love to frequent High Shoal Creek for the waterfalls. It is maddening!
Forgetting about all of the people that come here, disregarding the no climbing the falls signs that people ignore just to cliff dive right into a monstrous hole, a hole that probably held dozens of native brook trout at one time, lets talk about the stream itself. As far as I know there are no restrictions on this stream, which shocks me, you would think the State of Georgia would have some type of restrictions for this stream because of the native brook trout. However you would be wrong. Also this stream is not as easy of a hike as Little Stony Creek is, even though it .3 miles shorter. Also I really hope you like Laurel bushes, they are everywhere.
First of all you will have to drive straight up a mountain, praying that no tourists are there – that you will not find cars parked all the way up to the mouth of the trail. Then at the mouth of the trail you will have to hike about 1.5 miles straight down the mountain you just drove up. The trail is very steep, I really hope you have brought some type of studded boots or sandals, but it eventually levels off right where an angler should start jumping into the creek to the right of the trail. Unlike Little Stony Creek, you will start fishing the head waters at High Shoals and work your way down stream (that is if you do not care to be as stealthy as you should be in brook trout waters). Each and every hole is roughly the same for the first quarter mile or so, big drop into a big hole, with a very long and shallow pool following it. All of which has some type of Laurels to block easy overhead casts. This is where having a very short rod will come in handy, you will not be able to do many false cast for distance, instead you will need to maximize what little false casts you can make, and rely on precision shots. Also you will need to use roll and tuck casting every chance you can.
As you work your way down the stream you need to use extreme caution and common sense when it comes to some of the holes that you can fish. Remember you are going down a mountain, with very slick and sharp rocks, and it is at least a 1.5 mile hike out – this is not the area that you want to fall and break anything in. Each hole will get a little more difficult as you come up to the first small waterfall with the Laurel bushes getting thicker and thicker. After you get past this section you will come up to the first waterfall called Blue Hole Falls, if you are lucky enough to fish this section without any tourists jumping into the hole from above, make sure you fish this section deep with a heavy nymph, mop, or squirmy. Hopefully you can coerce a fish out hiding. Below this hole are several other holes, again be very cautious because the second waterfall, which is named High Shoals Falls, is very high and is blocked by Laurels. Below the second waterfall fish the small trickle that forms out of the falls, you will be amazed by what is there, also this starts the wild rainbow section of High Shoals Creek. From here you can continue to fish down to where it meets the Hiwassee River, however this is as far as I have ventured to fish. More will come as I try my luck down this stream.
After reading this I hope that I have conveyed some very important information, and I hope it doesn’t dissuade you from fishing this gem. Ultimately you need to plan to come here during the week time when no one is off to fish or hike, be very careful and plan out a trip here. Notify someone of when you are going here and what time to expect you back. I would even suggest telling them a time that you will call them when you get to Helen or back into cell service, this way they can notify the Towns County Sheriff’s office for help if you don’t call back.
One of the main things as an outsider to Georgia is how similar Georgia is to Virginia. In the mountainous sections the weather is usually cool and mild, while the flat lands are hot and humid. Only when it comes to winter can you tell the true difference between Virginia and Georgia, and realistically this change can really only be felt from the Atlanta Metro area south, everything else is relatively the same as Virginia. As with the weather, fly fishing for trout in Georgia is realistically a lot like Virginia. You have your high mountain native brook trout, wild rainbow trout, and occasional wild brown trout. In other places you have your stocked streams, and in several of the river systems (i.e. the Chattahoochee) you have your dam tail water wild trout. Also both the State of Georgia and Virginia have Delayed Harvest Sections during the Fall, Winter, and Spring months. However there are two main differences that an angler will see between Virginia and Georgia; the first is that the stockings month are backwards from Virginia, during the Spring, Summer, and early Fall months the State of Georgia stock their designated stocking streams. The second difference is that instead of stocking by Counties (like they do in Virginia) the state of Georgia have Wildlife Management Areas. At first it was a bit frustrating to find information on where and how to fish – I knew the fish were there, but like when I started fishing in Virginia the information out there is outdated and the only way to figure stuff out was to talk to local Fly Shops and to explore.
The main reason why I wanted to tell you all of this up front is because this will be the first of many posts about the trout waters here in Georgia. It has taken me a little over a year to get used to these waters and feel comfortable enough to actually talk in detail about them. So without further ado, here is my first Georgia stream recommendation and description of said stream.
The Upper Chattahoochee is a section of water in the Chattahoochee WMA area that extends from Little Crumbly Knob Mountain to the town of Helen Georgia. The first thing you must understand is that some of the water is private, obey the no trespassing signs at all costs. Also make sure that you lock up your vehicles and that they are parked in spot so that others can easily get by you. The last and final thing to know about this water way is that it is amazing. Honestly it is better than most of the streams that I have fished in Virginia; knock on wood, I have never been skunked on this stream and have fished it year round. Though the Upper Chatt is only stocked during the Spring, Summer, and Fall months an angler can always find a hold over somewhere through this freestone creek. Also in the extreme back wood sections, if you are able and willing to make the hike, an angler can find wild rainbows, and native brook trout. Also this stream is one of the few streams that I have found Tiger Trout in, yes the State of Georgia does stock tiger trout, however I have yet to find any wild tiger trout in these waters… but the possibly of finding wild tiger existing here is very high.
Now what can I say about the actual stream itself; if you know me then you know that by far my two favorite streams in Virginia are Big Stony and Little Stony Creek in Giles County, well the Upper Chatt is a mixture of these two streams. Very large boulders protrude from the water, that lead into deep long holes, while in other area there are very fast riffles followed by very shallow runs. Because of all of this different types of flows, fish can be found almost anywhere throughout this stream. However aim for the deeper pools, here you can always find trout rather at the drop, the deep middle sections, or at the rear of the hole.
One of my favorite things to do is use a good pair of polarized sunglasses and watch how the fish are eating, if they are constantly hitting top water I will use a dry/dropper rig or if they are constantly looking like they are going after stuff on the bottom I will fish two heavy nymphs and float the nymphs straight through that area.
Also as a member of the local Trout Unlimited, please be mindful of your trash, if you get a chance please bring a trash bag and fill it up as you fish. Keeping this stream beautiful is a very hard chore since it is a major tourist destination for campers during the stocking season.
There are very few pull off points to the stream, and some of these still leave your vehicle very close to a road that has a ton of traffic on it. Be mindful also of trespassing and take precautions when it comes to little to no cell phone service. Also, and I can not stress this enough when it comes to deep mountain streams, be mindful that you are in bear country, be safe.