Chattahoochee River (Morgan Falls to Peachtree Creek)
In addition to supplying nearly 70 percent of metro Atlanta's drinking water, the 48-mile stretch of the Chattahoochee River between Buford Dam and Peachtree Creek offers some of the best trout fishing in north Georgia.
From 2003-2007, more than 200,000 shoal bass fingerlings were stocked in the Morgan Falls Tailwater section of the Chattahoochee River. Due to these restoration efforts, there is now a significant shoal bass population supporting an exciting fishery. Reproduction of shoal bass in this section appears to be inconsistent due to variable and cold river conditions and adult numbers are slightly down from recent years. Georgia DNR re-initiated fingerling stocking in 2011 to maintain a healthy fishery and catchable fish in the 10 to 12-inch range should remain available to anglers.
Use a medium rod and spinning reel with 8-pound line (clear or green). Cast a 1/2 ounce yellow spinner bait with silver or white willow leaf blades to creek mouths and shoal areas. Low, clear water is best. For flyfishing, try streamers representing baitfish or crayfish patterns. Large nymphs such as stoneflies may also be effective.
Shoal bass move to shallow water in April and can be found in swift running shoals. In winter, they move to deeper water along the banks and deep pools. Focus on downed trees along the banks.
Largemouth and spotted bass are most active from April through October but can be caught in winter.
Many of the techniques used for shoal bass work well with largemouth and spotted bass. Also, try techniques and tackle that work in ponds and lakes, such as crankbaits in deeper pools. Worms and spinner baits also are effective.
Most anglers focus their time from spring through fall. Fish are everywhere and will hit any well-presented lure. The trout fishing is too good to pass up during late fall through early spring.
Though striped bass are native to this section of the Chattahoochee River, a series of downstream dams prevent the historic migration of stripers up from the Gulf of Mexico. Instead, striped bass stocked at West Point Reservoir often make the migration upstream all the way to Morgan Falls Dam in search of cool water. These fish remain present in the Morgan Falls Tailwater throughout the year, but in much higher densities during the warmer months. Stripers can be found in a range of sizes and may reach over 30 pounds.
Use a medium rod and spinning reel with 8 to 10-pound line (clear or green). Large redfins, #5 Rapalas and swim baits work well in shallow to deep, clear water. Large swimbaits that imitate shad are a good bet when targeting larger striped bass. Baits imitating a crayfish may prove effective in shoal areas.
These fish do not seem to prefer any single habitat, but move around looking for food. Striped bass can be found in shallow shoals, runs and deep pools. In summer, the upstream end of Cochran Shoals and the vicinity of Morgan Falls Dam tend to hold high numbers of stripers.
In the winter, fish for chain pickerel on sunny days with low, clear water at 45-55 degrees (F). Most pickerel found will be less than 12 inches, but the occasional larger fish can give anglers a surprise.
Use medium rod and reel with 8-pound line in clear water. Cast to blow downs and eddies. Yellow rooster tails (3/4 ounce) and 1/2 ounce yellow spinner baits (silver or white willow) also are effective.
In winter, target the river upstream of the delayed harvest section between Morgan Falls Dam and Sope Creek. Look to blown down trees in the sun with a deep hole on the downstream side.
Trout fishing in this section can be excellent during the Delayed Harvest (DH) season (November 1 through May 14) when catches of 20-30 trout are reported. Approximately 50,000 trout are stocked from November 1 through late April. All trout must be released during the delayed harvest season, but can be harvested from May 15 through October 31.
During the Delayed Harvest season, only single-hook artificial lures and flies are permitted between Sope Creek and Cobb Parkway (US 41).
For fly-fishing, consider a Parachute Adams in a No. 18-22. Picky fish? Try a black or olive wooly bugger. Also consider Bead Head Prince, Hares Ear and Pheasant Tail flies in No. 14-18. During an insect hatch, a small Blue Wing Olive or Griffiths Gnat in a No. 18-22 may be a better choice. When fish are recently-stocked, high visibilities such as a Y2K or purple warrior may be a better choice. For ultra light spinning tackle use 2-pound "Extra Tough Line" or 4-pound "Extra Limp" line (clear or green). Cast or troll 1/16 ounce. Yellow rooster tail, or #3 or #5 yellow rapalas. Fishing in low, clear water is best.
Outside of the DH season, traditional baits such as nightcrawlers or corn niblets should work well paired with spinning or spincasting tackle.
Target the delayed harvest section from Sope Creek (off Columns Drive) downstream to U.S. Highway 41. Popular access points include Cochran Shoals, Whitewater Creek, and Paces Mill.
Anglers seeking sunfish and catfish will find plenty of action in this section of the river. There are some yellow perch present as well but few are of desirable size.
Sunfish and catfish are most active in the warmer months.
Sunfish can be caught on small spinners and jigs, or cast worms into deep holes on a drop-shot rig. Catfish can be caught using cut or commercial catfish baits. Fish the bottom in deeper holes and runs for catfish.
The section between Buford Dam and Peachtree Creek lies within the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (CRNRA) and is managed by the National Park Service (NPS). The Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) and NPS work closely to manage the land, river and wildlife. For more information about the area, call 678-538-1200 or visit http://www.nps.gov/chat
Water levels may rise and fall with power generation at Morgan Falls Dam. Please be aware of your surroundings and watch water levels for any sign of rise while wading in the river.
The area from Sope Creek downstream to Highway 41 is designated as Delayed Harvest. Anglers fishing delayed harvest streams must release all trout immediately and use and possess only artificial lures with one single hook per lure from November 1 - May 14 annually. The use of additional "dropper" lures on one line is permitted as long as each lure contains one single hook. These restrictions do not apply from May 15 - October 31 of each year.:
Please note that the section between Morgan Falls Dam and Peachtree Creek is designated as trout waters. Therefore, anglers may not fish with live bait fish regardless of whether they are fishing for trout or other species.