Georgia has an abundant population of trout species that live in the many lakes, rivers, and streams found in the northern half of the state. Anglers can find plenty of brown and rainbow trout in the mountain streams and rivers that stretch across the state, and there is a healthy debate among trout fishing enthusiasts as to which waterway is the best when it comes to trout fishing.
In this article, we’ll break down the best places for trout fishing in Georgia, along with some helpful information pertaining to each stream, river, or lake to help anglers when it comes to catching trout.
Best Trout Fishing Creeks in Georgia
1. Rock Creek
Rock Creek offers the best overall trout fishing in Georgia for a number of reasons, but the main attraction of this stream is that it sits adjacent to the Chattahoochee Forest National Fish Hatchery. The hatchery routinely stocks a hefty amount of rainbow trout along with the occasional drops of brown trout and brook trout, too. Rock Creek is fairly easy to access as it has a wide, well-maintained gravel road that runs along its banks, making it easy for kids and adults to enjoy.
You’re not likely to catch a trophy trout from this particular creek, but you can expect to get some decent bites throughout most of the year from a wide range of trout species. I’ve had success with inline spinners along the upper sections of Rock Creek where it is somewhat narrow, but there are a few larger pools where fly fishing anglers can bend a rod. This stream is a perfect choice to introduce youngsters to trout fishing, as you can almost guarantee a catch using live bait such as wax worms or even corn kernels.
2. Cooper Creek
Rock Creek is in our number one position for the best trout fishing creeks in Georgia, but my personal favorite is Cooper Creek. Located in Union County, just a few miles from Rock Creek, this stream is just a bit larger and offers more width for ample casting with a fly rod. In addition to Cooper Creek being one of north Georgia’s best trout streams, it also offers dozens of public campsites along its banks where anglers can camp and enjoy the majestic beauty of the densely forested area.
Cooper Creek is no secret to folks in Georgia, and it does get a lot of fishing pressure, especially on days when it’s being stocked, which occurs on a weekly basis throughout the late spring and summer months. You can catch rainbows using inline spinners and soft plastic worms or crayfish imitation lures from the bridge southward, but I prefer hiking upstream and using simple nymph color patterns on a fly rod to catch the native brown and brook trout found on this creek.
3. Wildcat Creek
Deep in the wilderness of northeast Georgia is Wildcat Creek, another top choice for the best trout fishing creeks in the state. This is another heavily stocked creek that sees its fair share of anglers throughout the summer months. Wildcat Creek is also very popular for having neat, well-kept campsites near the stream that remain full most of the year.
Wildcat Creek eventually flows into Lake Burton, and anglers will find plenty of places to access the stream from Verner-Kastner Lane and Wildcat Road. If you arrive during the spring before visitors swim in the cool mountain waters, you can catch some wild brown and rainbow trout in the pool below the waterfall and downstream from this point.
4. Panther Creek
Panther Creek is a hidden gem when it comes to trout fishing in the north Georgia mountains. This is one of the many trout streams located just a few miles south of Tallulah Falls and earns a spot on our list of the best streams and creeks for catching trout in the Peach State. It can be accessed on the southern portion of Prather Bridge Road in Toccoa and from the northern side of US Highway 441.
Panther Creek is wide enough in many sections to allow for fly fishing anglers to make longer casts. I’ve found success using inline spinner lures from a brand that shares its namesake with the creek. Panther Martin’s Classic Regular 1/8 oz. size lures are always sure to attract bites from many of the stocked trout found in this stream.
5. Amicalola Creek
Another one of our favorite trout fishing creeks in north Georgia is Amicalola Creek, which is located directly north of the state capital city of Atlanta. Amicalola Falls is one of the most popular destinations in the upper half of the state due to its breathtaking scenery. At the base of the falls is a small reflection pool that is regularly stocked with rainbow and brown trout. Only kids are allowed to fish in this pond, and it’s a great family getaway location.
Amicalola Creek is a designated trout water, meaning anglers are only allowed to use single hooked lures since it’s one of the state’s “delayed harvest streams.” Trout can only be harvested from May until November, but this helps to bolster the native population of fish within the creek.
6. Smith Creek
Smith Creek is another delayed harvest stream, even though it is much smaller than other waterways in Georgia with this designation. Some of the largest trout I have landed have come from Smith Creek, and it’s not uncommon to find trophy trout in brown and rainbow trout species. This stream is just a few miles north of Helen, Georgia, which is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the north Georgia mountains.
I prefer fishing in the section of Smith Creek where the West Fork and East Fork meet, as there is an abundance of brown trout found here. Most of Smith Creek is difficult to fish with a fly rod, and anglers typically use an ultralight spinning rod and reel combos for the best results.
Best Trout Fishing Rivers in Georgia
1. Chattahoochee River
The best river in Georgia to trout fish on is along the Chattahoochee River north of Atlanta. This waterway is fondly referred to as “The Hooch” by locals, and it flows out of the Blue Ridge mountains before winding its way down near the state’s capital city, where there are plenty of sections that offer public access for trout fishing. My favorite part of the Chattahoochee River runs through the city of Helen and is home to numerous trophy-sized rainbow trout and brown trout.
When it comes to fly fishing the Chattahoochee, you can find some ideal spots just north of Helen where fishing pressure is limited. Be aware of the regulations for the particular sections you plan to fish because some parts of this river have delayed harvest or only allow artificial lures to be used to target trout.
The Chattahoochee River just north of Helen is the section that most serious anglers target because of ample populations of wild trout with a healthy number of stocked trout as well. Some of the biggest rainbow trout tend to hang out in the city around the bridge where North Main Street crosses over the Chattahoochee River.
2. Toccoa River
There is a healthy debate among serious trout fishing anglers in Georgia whether the Toccoa River is the best in the state, and rightfully so. The Toccoa River forms in the upper reaches of north Georgia’s mountains at the junction of Mauldin Creek and Cochran Creek. I have caught a number of wild brook trout in the uppermost section of the Toccoa River, and fly fishermen and lure anglers can expect to get bites from wild brown trout and wild rainbow trout further downstream.
Nothing beats the picturesque scenery you’ll find as the Toccoa River flows down through the Chattahoochee National Forest. The Toccoa is delayed harvest from November until mid-May and these regulation has helped these waters to grow some of the biggest wild fish in this part of the state. Elk hair caddis is a perfect pattern to use during late winter and early spring as it imitates the caddisfly hatch that occurs near the Toccoa River tailwater each year.
3. Tallulah River
The Tallulah River is high on our list due to its outstanding fishing spots and wild trout species, but this waterway is likely my favorite. The Tallulah River contains a decent population of wild rainbow trout, but you can always expect to catch stockers as well throughout the spring and summer months.
This is an ideal choice for families during trout season, as there are numerous campsites in the area and diverse fishing opportunities for every type of angler. Anglers can use either inline spinner lures or a number of different fly fishing styles, including elk hair caddis.
4. Chattooga River
The Chattooga River is another top choice on our list of the best rivers in Georgia, and it’s well known for having a healthy population of wild brook trout in addition to brown and rainbow trout. This river is located in the northeastern corner of the state and joins South Carolina and North Carolina as it flows in a southwestern direction.
There are monster brown trout found in the upper section of the Chattooga River and fly fishing patterns such as pheasant tail nymphs work exceptionally well during the summer months. There are various access points located along Highway 76 and Warwoman Road that offer scenic views and plenty of wild trout.
5. Conasauga River
The Conasauga River earns a spot among our picks for the best trout streams in Georgia for a number of reasons. This wild river winds its way through the north Georgia mountains and up into Tennessee before returning back into the Peach State and flowing into the Coosawattee River. There are numerous places to use a forest service road to access the river, but my favorite is at the Hickory Creek Trailhead, where the Conasauga River meets Rough Creek.
Trout fishing is best above Rough Creek, where the cold water flows from higher elevations. The wild brown trout and other species found in the Conasauga River are easily spooked, so you’ll need to be a bit more stealthy along some parts. I prefer using dry flies in portions where the water flow is slower, but a variety of different lures like rooster tails or even weighted hooks rigged with soft plastic crawfish imitations will get a bite in the Conasauga.
6. Etowah River
The Etowah River is another noteworthy waterway that deserves attention from serious trout fishermen and women. This is another river that’s relatively close to Atlanta and offers several access points along its uppermost sections where wild trout and stocked trout can be found.
The Etowah River is a popular destination for people using kayaks and other watercraft, and this is one of my favorite places to trout fish from a canoe. Lures will work best in the lower sections where the water moves more slowly, but the Etowah River’s upper portion is great for fishing with dry flies and nymphs.
7. Jacks River
The Jacks River is seldom listed among most anglers’ top choices for the best fly fishing rivers in Georgia, but it’s truly a hidden gem for those willing to go the extra mile. Located deep in the Cohutta Wilderness Area of north Georgia, the Jacks River flows through areas where only foot traffic is allowed. This makes access extremely difficult for anyone who isn’t able to hike a few miles into the wilderness.
However, this limited access is one of the reasons why giant brown trout and brook trout are able to survive without a great deal of fishing pressure. If you’re willing to traverse the Conasauga Trail, you can find a number of places where fly fishing and lures will attract bites from hungry trout.
Best Trout Fishing Lakes in Georgia
1. Lake Trahlyta
Lake Trahlyta is my top choice among the best trout fishing lakes in Georgia despite the fact that it’s smaller than some of the others on our list. This lake sits in the middle of Vogel State Park, which has more than 100 campsites for visitors and is a popular family vacation destination in north Georgia. This 22-acre lake is stocked twice per month throughout the spring and summer with rainbow trout and sometimes brown trout.
2. Lake Winfield Scott
Lake Winfield Scott is another small lake near Suches, Georgia, that’s teeming with stocked rainbow trout and also brown an brook trout. It’s slightly smaller than Lake Trahlyta at 18 acres and features a number of covered pavilions along the banks and campsites where anglers can stay for a weekend trip. This lake is not ideal for fly anglers but is great for kids and rookie fishing enthusiasts since the trout is heavily stocked twice each month during the summer.
3. Lake Seed
Lake Seed is a 240-acre reservoir in north Georgia with a reputation for producing giant rainbow and brown trout. The lake is not usually stocked on a regular basis, but the trout that do reside in its waters have a variety of food sources that allow them to grow much larger than you might expect. The current record for brown trout at the lake is a whopping 13-pound, 8-ounce monster that measured more than 31 inches.
4. Lake Blue Ridge
Lake Blue Ridge is another one of my favorite fishing spots and is fed by a number of nearby Georgia streams. This lake’s location in the north Georgia mountains’ high elevation and cold waters help sustain healthy populations of rainbow and brown trout. This 3,300-acre reservoir is home to giant browns and trout anglers, commonly land trout measuring more than 20 inches in its waters. Lake Blue Ridge is fed by the Toccoa River, and some of the biggest trout in the state have been caught at the Lake Blue Ridge Dam.
5. Black Rock Lake
Another top choice for the best lakes in Georgia trout fishing is Black Rock Lake, located near Mountain City. This small, 17-acre lake is fed by Taylor Creek and is stocked twice each month with thousands of rainbow trout. I’ve had success using bright orange Powerbait and orange or pink-colored soft plastic worms as these colors closely resemble the food these fish are given in the hatchery.