By: Chris Shaffer
As spring rolls toward summer the inventory of trout in the Chattahoochee River near Helen increases. Weekly plants by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources keep a steady flow of rainbow trout in a several mile section of water from the edge of Helen upriver for roughly two miles from town. More than 1,500 trout are stocked weekly. This will continue through early July or as long as water temperatures permit. A total of more than 25,000 trout are slated for this section and another 25,000 are stocked above on the WMA.
By summer trout fishing can be a chore due to the number of rafters and swimmers in the river. Meanwhile, conditions are prime now and will continue to be for several months. We were on scene last week and watched the Georgia DNR stock almost a full truckload of rainbows, something they’ll be doing this week, too. Most of the trout ranged from nine to 11 inches, but we did see a few larger fish mixed in.
After grabbing footage of the state stocking the rainbows we retreated to a section of river that wasn’t stocked to see if we could find holdover trout from previous plants. Last Wednesday wasn’t the ideal day to fish the Hooch. Unfortunately, several inches of rain fell early that morning which pushed water much higher than normal. Still, we weren’t discouraged. In fact, it mirrors today’s conditions as lots of rain has the river swollen and more challenging to fish.
The goal was to find a deep hole where trout could hunker down while they waited for the river to recede. We parked next to a bridge in Helen and fished downriver about 25 yards where a large pool was found. I didn’t make a cast. Instead I focused on filming our owner fish in the North Georgia Mountains for the first time. He’s a big BBQ fan. I told him if he could catch eight trout (a limit) I’d take him to one of my favorite BBQ places. That limit took him about an hour.
We caught and released more than a dozen fish that first hour and called it a day as we had more than enough footage to close the books on another episode of Pautzke Outdoors. All our trout were caught exclusively with Fire Bait. We drifted and plunked Peach Garlic, Rainbow and Garlic Salmon Egg Fire Bait on a size 10 single salmon egg hook. We used a small BB Water Gremlin Split Shot to bring the bait down into the strike zone and employed four-pound Trilene leader line. The water was clear, but not gin clear due to the runoff so we were able to go heavier than we expected. Normally, with trout smaller than 12 inches we would go with two-pound test to increase strikes.
Editor’s Note: Anglers may keep eight trout. The Georgia Division of Natural Resources stocks the river weekly. For more information on trout stocking in Georgia please visit http://www.georgiawildlife.org/fishing. For information on services in Helen please visit http://www.helenga.org. Pautzke FireBait is available in most North Georgia Walmart locations and Bass Pro Shops.