Copyright 20189 James
Fly Fishing On The Chattahoochee River
Georgia (Tailwater section)
The Chattahoochee River, or Hooch as the locals call it,
is the tailwater below Buford Dam north of Atlanta,
Georgia. It is sometimes called the lower Chattahoochee
River. The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers dam backs up
Lake Lanier. There are forty-eight miles of this river that
is managed as a year-round trout fishery. It runs directly
through the city of Atlanta. The entire forty-eight mile
stretch of the river from Buford Dam to the Peachtree
Creek is managed by the National Park Service.
The water temperature averages about 52 degrees near
the dam in the summertime. Over a million brown and
rainbow trout are stocked each year by the Georgia DRN.
The uppermost fifteen miles are restricted to artificial
lures and flies only. There is a very limited amount of
spawning of the brown trout in the river but it does have
some hold over trout. The rainbow trout probably
average from nine to fourteen inches. The brown trout
average about the same or from about ten to fourteen
inches. Large brown trout are rare but some do exist in
There is a Delayed Harvest section below Sope Creek on
the lower part of the river. It provides a fishery during the
winter in water that will not support trout in the hot
summer months. The Delayed Harvest season runs from
November 1 until May 15.
The Chattahoochee River Tailwater is the fastest way to
get through Atlanta traffic at times (just kidding). It is
rather weird to be fly fishing for trout in the middle of a
large city, especially a large city in the South but that is
exactly the setting for fly fishing the Chatahoochee River
Tailwater. The first and foremost important thing is to get
the discharge schedule of Buford Dam.
Fly Fishing Guide to the Chattahoochee River
The very first thing you should do prior to fishing this river
is to call and get the scheduled water releases. The first
section of water would be considered the dam
downstream to Abbots Bridge, a distance of about
thirteen miles. This section of the upper Chattahoochee
is sometimes difficult to fish because it is narrow and
relatively deep with strong current anytime water is being
release. It is thought that the strong current lowers the
available aquatic insect population in this area but it still
produces a good number of trout.
The section of the river extending from Hwy 20 to Abbott's
Bridge is for artificial bait only. This limits the bank bait
fisherman. This section can be fished from the bank by fly
anglers but it is far best fished from a boat. Wading can
be very dangerous in this area and you should check the
schedule for sure and keep a close look at the water
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Photo Courtesy Steven Lamb
Recommended Tackle & Gear
5 or 6 weight
Dry fly: 9 & 12 ft., 5 or 6X, Nymphing:
71/2 ft., 3 or 4X, Streamers 0-2X
Dry fly: 5 or 6X, Nymphing: 3 or 4X,
Best Fly Rod:
Perfect Fly Superb Five or Ultimate Six
For 5/6 fly line
Fly Floatants and Misc Items:
Loon Floatants, KISS Strike Indicators
Tools & Accessories:
Nippers, forceps, retractors, etc.
The river can be fished any day of the
year. It is possible to catch trout on the
Spring is a good time to fish the upper part
of the river.
Terrestrial fishing can be good throughout
The river changes a little and widens out
some from Abbots Bridge downstream for
about four miles to the Medlock Bridge. This
has the effect of reducing the amount of
current. There are more aquatic insects in this
section than there are upstream. Natural bait
is prohibited in this section also. From the
Medlock Bridge to Jones Bridge, a distance of
about three miles, natural bait is permitted
and competition from the corn anglers comes
into play again. The Chattahoochee River
shoals begin to show up in the river and when
the water is off, they are completely out of the
water. This provides good structure and
holding areas for trout but also good access
for bank anglers. The farther you go, the
more shoals you will find.
From Jones Bridge downstream to Azalea
Drive, a distance of about eleven miles,
you'll find an excellent section of the
Chattahoochee River tailwater.
Unfortunately, bait is also allowed in this
section. This stretch of water has plenty of
shoals and plenty of trout hold there.
There are some large, deep pools created
by the rock substrate. The aquatic insect
population seems to increase in this
Chattahoochee River Tailwater
Hatches and Trout Flies:
Our information on aquatic insects is based
on our stream samples of larvae and nymphs,
not guess work. We base fly suggestions on
imitating the most plentiful and most available
insects and other foods at the particular time
you are fishing. Unlike the generic fly shop
trout flies, we have specific imitations of all the
insects in the Cattahoochee River tailwater
and in all stages of life that are applicable to
fishing. If you want to fish better, more realistic
trout flies, have a much higher degree of
success, give us a call. We not only will help
you with selections, you will learn why, after
trying Perfect Flies, 92% of the thousands of
our customers will use nothing else.
The flies needed and the hatches that occur
when fly fishing the Hooch - the
Chattahoochee River tailwater, strictly
depends on the section of the river you are
fishing. As most of your know, cold tailwaters
are not only affected by the weather, they are
even more affected by the releases of cold
water. The water temperatures vary greatly
depending on the releases and even more
importantly, they vary depending on the
distance downstream of the dam you are
fishing. For example, on a ninety degree day
in Atlanta, the water temps below Buford Dam
may not reach 50 degrees, yet downstream in
the delayed harvest section, it may reach 70
degrees. So it varies depending on the
distance from the dam and the timing of the
releases. On the other hand, on a cold
December day, the water temperatures may
remain fairly constant throughout the length of
One insect you can count on being present is
the midge. They are very plentiful and hatch
somewhere on the river almost everyday of
the year. You cannot go wrong fishing an
imitation of a midge larva or pupa, any day of
the year. You must know how to fish them
though. Just tying one on isn't enough.
The next most plentiful insects are probably
the caddisflies. There are several different
species in the river. Most of them are
net-spinning caddis or various species of
Cinnamon Caddis and Spotted Sedges.
These caddisflies hatch from early March
through November depending on the section
of the river you are fishing. Green Sedges are
also present. These hatch from April through
July depending on the section of the river.
Scuds and sowbugs are both present and
represent a good part of the trout's diet.
Imitations of these will catch trout
year-round. Check out our Perfect Fly scud
and sowbug flies.
Black flies are another very common
insect. Perfect Fly makes the only
imitations of the black fly larva, pupa and
adults. We suggest you always have these
in all stage of life. Don't forget terrestrials -
grasshoppers, beetles and ants work great
during the summer months.
We have been told that there are hatches
of Light Cahills and Sulfurs but we have not
verified that and cannot provide
information on it. If anyone knows for
certain, and the places and times of the
hatch, we would welcome the information.
Probably the most important flies you can
have fishing the Hooch are streamers.
Sculpin are present throughout the river
and trout eat them every day of the year.
We have several excellent imitations of
scuds. We also have many other types of
streamer patterns. Don't forget the
possibility of a shad kill on the lake. When
this happens dead shad wash through the
turbines and white streamers will catch
some large browns and rainbows.
Our Perfect Flies are the most realistic and
effective trout flies you can purchase. If
you haven't tried them, we encourage you
to do that. You will not regret it.
The most common mayflies by far are the
Blue-winged Olives. These mayflies consist
of several different species and hatch just
about the entire year, heavy at times and
slack at times and at various sections of
the river. You should have a selection of
nymphs, emergers, duns and spinners in
hook size 20 and 18 with you anytime you
are fishing. These are very difficult to see
and you need to pay close attention to
even know they are hatching.
Little Black Winter Stoneflies are present in
most of the river. These hatch during the
Winter mostly but may extend on into the
Spring in the upper section of the tailwater.
Autumn is a very good time to fish BWO
and caddisfly hatches.
Winter is probably the best time to fish the
Hooch because of the water releases.
Photos Courtesy Steven Lamb
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