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Fishing the Toccoa River in Blue Ridge,GA

Toccoa River 

The Toccoa River located in North Georgia near the town of Blue Ridge is considered by many to be the best trout fishery in the southeast. The Toccoa River can be divided into two sections. We call them the upper Toccoa (Above Lake Blue Ridge) and the Lower Toccoa (Below Lake Blue Ridge). We also refer to the lower section as the tailwater, because it starts directly below Lake Blue Ridge Dam. The Toccoa River tailwater section is prime trout habitat because of the cold water released from the bottom of the lake. Brown and Rainbow trout thrive in these cold water temps. The temperatures do vary throughout the year, but stay in the 45-70 degree range which is cold enough to support trout.

Upper Toccoa River 

 The Toccoa River headwaters begins it's journey by the formation of two small creeks (Cochran and Mauldin creeks) which are just north of Coopers Gap in the area of Suches, GA. From there the river flows just over 32 miles to Lake Blue Ridge. The upper part of the Toccoa River is where the delayed harvest section is located. The delayed harvest section is managed to offer anglers greater success at catching trout. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources stock this section of river heavily each year from November 1st thru May 15th. This is a catch and release and artificial only lures only section during the time frame. The delayed harvest section begins just upstream from the Sandy Bottoms Canoe Launch and ends just upstream of the Shallowford Bridge. This section can be access by wading at various pull offs along Old Dial Rd and depending on flows can be floated.

As far as how to fish the delayed harvest section and what gear and flies to use. We suggest using a 9 foot 4 or 5wt fly rod with a standard weight forward floating line and a 9' leader. We suggest starting out with what we call attractor flies. These include egg patterns, san juans, mop flies, squirmy wormies. If those do not produce we usually go to more natural patterns like pheasant tails, hares ears, and those patterns in a soft hackle variation.

Lower Toccoa River 

The lower Toccoa River (Tailwater) section flows 15 miles from Lake Blue Ridge Dam to the Tennessee state line in McCaysville, GA and Copper Hill, TN where it becomes known as the Ocoee River. Access is limited only to a few public locations as the property along almost all of it is private.

 

There is access via a parking lot with steps down to the river just below Lake Blue Ridge Dam. Roughly 2000 feet below this area is Tammen Park. Tammen Park provides great access to the river with a boat ramp and steps down to the river. It also has a big open gravel parking lot and restrooms onsite. This is where we start a lot of our guided float trips from depending on flows and fishing conditions. There is some wading opportunities at Tammen Park up and down river from the boat ramp.

Blue Ridge Dam

Lake Blue Ridge Dam 

Tammen Park in Blue Ridge, GA

Tammen Park

The next public access point is Curtis Switch, which is roughly 7 miles down river from Tammen Park. At Curtis Switch there is a boat ramp, steps down to the river, and smaller gravel parking area. There is no restroom at Curtis Switch. This is where we will end and or start our guided float trips. Curtis Switch has limited wade fishing up and down from the boat ramp.

Curtis Switch TVA Boat Ramp

Curtis Switch TVA Area

The next public access is Horseshoe Bend Park roughly 5.5 miles down from Curtis Switch. Horseshoe Bend Park has a boat ramp, restrooms, pavilion, and the best public wading opportunity on the Toccoa River tailwater section. A short 2 mile float down from Horseshoe Bend Park is the McCaysville City Park. The city park has a boat ramp, picnic tables, and a restroom. 

Horseshoe Bend Park Entrance

Horseshoe Bend Park Entrance

Horseshoe Bend Park Boat Ramp

Horseshoe Bend Park Boat Ramp

McCaysville Georgia City Park Boat Ramp

McCaysville City Toccoa River Park

Fly Fishing the Toccoa River Tailwater

Fishing the Toccoa River tailwater section is done by wading at the few access locations mentioned above or by boating it. Fishing the tailwater section by boat is by far the most productive way to catch fish. You are not only able to cover more water, but you are able to get away from the crowded and pressured wade access areas. This is why Deep South Fly Anglers only offers drift boat float trips. We are able to get our clients to less pressured areas along the river for a better experience.

Fly Fishing Gear Setup

The fly gear setup we use most often consist of different weight fly rods depending on the water and fishing conditions. When nymphing and dry fly fishing we generally will use a 9' 4 or 5wt rod with a weight forward floating fly line. Our leaders and tippet vary greatly depending on the section of river we are fishing and the water flows. When streamer fishing we like to use 6-8wt fly rods with either floating or sink tip fly lines. The streamer fly fishing gear setup also varies depending on fly selection, water flows and fishing conditions.

Fly Selection on the Toccoa River

Fly selection on the Toccoa River is one of the important parts of the puzzle. Our staple patterns like pheasant tails, midges, hares ears, stoneflies, and soft hackles all in size 14-24 will usually get it done while nymphing. When fishing the heavily stocked public access areas, you can usually get away with attractor patterns like squirmy wormies, egg patterns, and mop flies. The way you fish these patterns and how you approach certain sections of the river is key to having a successful day. We like to fish dry dropper rigs throughout most of the year also. This greatly depends on the time of the year and the water conditions.

 

Dry fly fishing on the Toccoa River can be phenomenal throughout the year. We have midges, caddis, mayfly, and stonefly hatches on the River. The type of hatches depend on the time of year and weather conditions. Generally in the winter months (November-March) we have midges, small black stoneflies, mayflies (BWO's), and caddis. The black caddis hatch can be really awesome during February and March. The spring through summer months can produce all of the above along with different mayflies like sulfurs, light cahill's, march browns, and yellow drakes. Terrestrials like hoppers and ants are also good patterns to have during the hot days of summer. It is best to keep an assortment of these dry flies on hand, because you never know what kind of hatch will occur. 

Streamer fly selection on the Toccoa River really depends on the flows and weather conditions. If you are fishing on low water you can be successful by using patterns like wooly buggers, sparkle minnows, and sculpin patterns in size 4-8 in different color combinations. These smaller streamer patterns can be fished on a 5 and 6wt fly rods. Leader size and length depends on water conditions and how the fish are reacting. High water streamer fishing is a totally different ballgame. We fish 7-8wt rods with sinking and sink tip fly lines. Leader setup varies depending on flows and conditions. We usually reach for the bigger articulated baitfish patterns when fishing on high water. The smaller patterns mentioned before will also work in these conditions, but during high water float trips we are targeting the biggest fish in the river. We use patterns like dungeons, circus peanuts and double deceivers in different sizes and colors.

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