Toccoa River - Blue Ridge, Georgia
The Toccoa River in Fannin County Georgia is unique among streams here in the South in that it flows almost due North into Tennessee. This is a godsend in some ways in that this fact helps to keep the water a little cooler in the summer than other streams in the area.
There are two distinct sections of the Toccoa, one upstream of Lake Blue Ridge the freestone part and one downstream of Lake Blue Ridge the tail water part. Both of these sections are about 15 miles long each. The Upper Toccoa or upstream section is fed by some wonderful little trout streams such as Coopers, Rock, and Noontootla Creeks. All of these streams contain wild trout in the headwaters and a couple of them receive heavy stockings of fish also. The Upper Toccoa gets a steady supply of wild fish from these mini streams in addition to stocked fish by the Georgia DNR.
One of the most easily accessed sections of the Upper Toccoa is a section from the Sandy Bottoms Canoe Launch downstream to the end of the National Forest boundary at what is best described as an island in the stream about a mile and a half downstream of the canoe launch. Just look for the red paint on the trees and the white blazing of the Benton MacKaye trail which comes out of the forest at this point. Between these two points it is all Chattahoochee National Forest Land and also the Delayed Harvest Section of the Toccoa. This means that between November 1st and May 15th fishing is limited to artificial lures only catch and release only regulations. Stocking continues but all trout must be released unharmed. This is a great time to take a beginning fly fisher to learn the ins and outs of the sport and to sometimes catch a trophy. There are some areas that are difficult to wade in this area so be careful. The water flow needs to be at about 300CFS or less to comfortably wade here. You can go to the TVA website and look under Valley Stream Flows to find the Toccoa near Dial listing for the current flow rate.
Fly patterns for the area can range from simple Elk Hair Caddis and Stimulators in the dry fly department to Bead Head Prince and Pheasant Tails in the nymph department. Streamer junkies can throw Olive or Black Wooly Buggers and pick up fish in the deeper sections.
The Toccoa Tailwater downstream of the Blue Ridge Dam contains good varieties of insects for the trout and the hatch matching trout fisherman. Matching the hatch can be important here to consistently catch fish. Good Black Caddis hatches usually happen in March with Olive Caddis hatching in April then Sulphers coming off in the month of May into June. Terrestrial insect patterns work well all summer until about October when the October Caddis and Blue Winged Olives start hatching. Winter can be good with Black Caddis and Black Stones with a few Midges thrown in there for good measure. Dry Dropper Rigs are very effective as well as big articulated streamers for the big Browns down there. Cold fifty degree water consistently coming off the bottom of the dam keep the trout happy for about 15 river miles downstream.
Three public access points below the dam provide wading and floating access. The first is Tammen Park right at the dam. Then about seven river miles down is Curtis Switch then you have Horseshoe Bend Park about 15 river miles downstream from the dam. All provide about a quarter mile of carefully waded water. Floating and fishing time between the dam and Curtis Switch is about 7 hours. Floating and fishing time between Curtis Switch and Horseshoe Bend is about 8 hours. It takes the water about 2 hours to get to Curtis Switch and about 4 hours to get to Horseshoe Bend so plan your fishing trip well.
Of upmost importance always check the TVA Website for the predicted flow rate and times before you put your feet in the water. When they run water through the dam the river rises about 3 feet in a matter of seconds and can be extremely dangerous. Do not wade when the water is up you may drown! Even boating can be dangerous if you get swept up under streamside logs and debris. We don’t fish the Toccoa on high water. Not that you can’t catch fish but for safety reasons. It’s a great tail water fishery with both wild and stocked Rainbow and Brown Trout. Fishing pressure on weekends or holidays can be pretty intense so plan accordingly.