Copyright 2017 James Marsh
Fly Fishing The Chattahoochee River
The Chattahoochee River begins from tiny streams in
the high Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia and
flows down through the little resort town of Helena,
Georgia. It is a typical, beautiful Southern Appalachian
freestone mountain stream that flows around many large
The uppermost part of the stream, or Upper
Cattahoochee River, and its headwater tributaries,
contain small brook trout. They are protected from the
rainbows and brown trout by a natural waterfall just
above the confluence of Henson Creek. Most of the
lower section of this river is just off of state highway #75.
The middle section of the river is located along road #44
in the Wildlife Management Area.
You will find both stocked and wild trout in the river. The
lower area near Helen has plenty of public water but the
fish are mostly stocked trout. There's not much natural
reproduction of trout in the lower section of the river.
The section of the river that is in the Chattahoochee
Wildlife Management Area is probably the best section
of the stream to fish. Both hatchery and wild trout exist in
this part of the river. The area above Henson Creek is
strictly brook trout fishing.
This freestone river has a good population of aquatic
insects. The wild trout rely on them from birth and it is
usually necessary to pay attention to what the trout are
eating at any given time. They can become selective,
especially when substantial numbers of insects are
available in the larval or adult stages of life for them to
Chattahoochee River Georgia
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Photo Courtesy of David Knapp Photography
Recommended Tackle & Gear
4, 5 or 6 weight
Dry fly: 9 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 Rods:
Perfect Fly Supreme Four, Superb Five
or Ultimate Six
For 4/5/6 fly line
Fly Floatants and Misc Items:
Floatants, KISS Strike Indicators
Tools & Accessories:
Nippers, forceps, retractors, etc.
You can fish the stream anytime of the year.
Spring is the best time of year to fish the
The best fishing is confined to the brook
Chattahoochee River Fly Fishing Guide
Fly fishing the Cattahoochee River is strictly small
stream fishing. It is a pure freestone stream that depends
entirely on rain and melting snow for its water. Rainfall
can drastically affect its levels and directly affect the fly
Most of the stream consist of pocket water. There are
some pools connected by short riffles and runs but most
of the fishing should be done in the pocket water, runs
and riffles. Fish are found in the pools but always much
harder to catch. The water flows smoother and the trout
can get a much better look at your fly than they can in
the faster moving pocket water, runs and riffles.
It is always better to make short, upstream cast. It helps
to get a drag-free drift. The more fly line you have laying
on the surface of the water, the higher the chances of
drag. Keep as much fly line out of the water as you can
by making relatively short, upstream cast.
High sticking the runs is an effective nymph fishing
method. Much of the time, nymph fishing will outproduce
dry fly fishing. We suggest you stick with the nymph until
you see something hatch, and then fish dry flies.
Fly pattern is far more important when you fishing for wild
trout than newly stocked trout. Fly pattern is important for
catching the larger holdover trout. The stream has some
large browns that aren't easily fooled and presentation
and fly selection is very important for them.
Cattahoochee River Hatches and
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 Upper Cattahoochee River
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. 1-800-594-4726
The river has a lot of different insects but
most of them are relatively moderate to low in
quantities. The first insects to hatch at the
start of a new year in January are the little
Winter Stoneflies. Imitations of the nymph
work good during the cold winter. About the
time these stop hatching you will see the Little
Brown Stoneflies start to hatch. They will last
until the end of April.
Blue-winged Olive are the most consistent
hatch throughout the year. You will start to
see some hatches about the middle of
February and they will continue off and on
throughout the entire year. These include the
baetis species along with the Eastern BWOs,
Little BWOs and Small BWOs consisting of
about 10 different species, some of which are
The little Blue Quills will start to hatch about
the middle of February and last into the first
of April. They are usually very large hatches
that are very consistent. About the same time
you will begin to see the Quill Gordons. They
hatch until as late as the first week of April in
the higher elevations.
Mid February will also bring about one of the
largest caddisfly hatches of the year - the
Little Black Caddis or Brachcentrus species.
The Hendricksons start hatching near the last
week of March. They are short lived, hatching
for only about a month to six weeks at the
most. It is moderate and only occurs in
Around the middle of April, March Browns will
begin to hatch. These mayflies are just about
everywhere you fish but they hatch
inconsistently until around the first week of
June. Much more consistent are the Light
Cahills. They start about a week or two after
the March Browns and last as long as three
weeks, depending on the elevation.
The middle of April will bring about a hatch of
the Short-horned Sedges. These are very
small black caddisflies that are quite
abundant. About the same time you should
notice the first hatches of the Green Sedges.
They hatch everywhere there is fast water for
over two months but never in large quantities.
At the same time the first hatches of
Cinnamon Caddis show up.
Around the second week of May, Eastern
Pale Evening Duns will start hatching. Most
anglers call these Sulphurs but the true
Sulphurs will not start to hatch for another
couple of weeks.
The first of May the Giant Black Stoneflies will
start hatching. These hatch at night and
deposit their eggs at night. Nymphs work well
in the late afternoons.
The Little Yellow Stoneflies, called Yellow
Sallies and one of the best hatches, will
start around the first of May and last until
From the middle of May until the middle of
November, a long period
of time, you will find hatches of Slate
Drakes occurring. These mayflies hatch
out of the water but never in large
quantities. Imitations of the nymphs and
spinners can be important.
The Great Autumn Brown Sedges, start
hatching at night by the first of October
and last into the first of December.
During the month of June, grasshoppers,
beetles, ants and inch worms, all
terrestrial insects, become important food
items for the trout. There are few hatches
occurring, so most anglers start using
imitations of these terrestrials. The inch
worms, or moth larvae, are especially
important due to the large numbers of
them in the forest of the park.
In addition to the terrestrial and aquatic
insects, theres a lot of other food for the
trout. Small Crawfish is one of those
items. The brown trout are especially fond
of them. Another one is Sculpin. These
small fish are abundant in most of the
stream. Imitations of them can be very
effective. The Black Nose Dace is another
baitfish that is important. Streamers
imitating these and other minnows work
great especially when the water is slightly
Craneflies are everywhere water exist in
the park. The larva and adults are
important insects to imitate.
Hellgrammites, or the larva stage of the
Dobsonfly, is another abundant insect.
We recommend our own "Perfect Fly"
imitations. They are the best, most
effective flies you can purchase and use
anywhere trout exist. Please give them a
try. You'll be glad you did.
The last week of June through the month
of August you will find some Cream
Cahills. These are sparse but important
at that time of year. By the middle of
August hatches of Little Yellow Quills will
start to occur mostly in the higher
elevations. This is a very good hatch that
last until the end of October. By the
middle of August, hatches of Mahogany
Duns will begin to occur. This hatch last
for as long as two months depending on
Also by the middle of August you should
start seeing some Needle Stoneflies.
These hatch in fairly large numbers until
as late as November, especially in the
higher elevations. Many anglers take
them for caddisflies which they resemble
Another hatch also called Yellow Sallies,
but different species, starts again about
September and last for about six weeks.
The Golden Stoneflies start hatching
around the first of June and last about
five weeks. The Little Green Stoneflies
start about the last week of May and last
Autumn is a great time to fish. The fall
foliage along the stream is beautiful.
Warm days can provide decent trout
|Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us (firstname.lastname@example.org)
with the dates you will be fishing this
stream and we will send you a list of our
fly suggestions. Please allow up to 24
hours for a response.
2. Call us 800-594-4726 and we will help
you decide which flies you need.
3. Email us (email@example.com)
with a budget for flies and we will select
them to match the budget and get them to
you in time for your fly fishing trip.
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|More Georgia Trout Streams:
We have Perfect Fly website pages on
each of these other fine trout streams.
Click the links for fly fishing information
including descriptions of the streams,
access, location, species of fish, a fly
fishing guide, a fly fishing report, hatches
and recommended trout flies, fly fishing
gear and equipment, USGS stream data,
local weather and much, much more
Headlines: The stream levels
are very low, so be careful wading
not to spook the trout. There is a
chance of rain Saturday and next
week, so they may come up some.
We have added several insects to
the fly list that could begin to
hatch anytime. If not, their nymphs
or larvae should be available for
the trout to eat. Be sure to check
the latest by clicking the above
link to the weekly updated Upper
Chattahoochee River fishing
10/15/15 The upper Hooch is in great shape and can be waded just about anywhere. The
weather is going to be much cooler and there is no rain forecast until next week. Hatches are
still taking place including Little Yellow Stoneflies, Great Autumn Brown sedges, Mahogany
duns, and others. Terrestrials are also working good - ants, beetles and hoppers.
10/23/15 The upper river is in good shape right now. The weather has been cool but it
returning back to a more normal average temperature. There is a lot of rain in the forecast the
first of next week but conditions for fishing this weekend looks good. You can wade about
anywhere. Great Autumn Brown sedges should be at the peak of their hatch.
10/30/15 The streams have been a little high the past three days but falling fast. There is
some more rain on the way Saturday, but it shouldn't be heavy. Great Autumn Brown Sedges
and Blue-winged Olives are the two main insects you should be imitating. The Brown Sculpin
Streamer is working great on the pre-spawn brown trout.
11/06/15 The river is a little high right now and most likely, will continue to rise. There is a lot of
rain in the forecast for the next several days. You will just have to keep a close look at the
levels to know if you can wade or not. You can fish streamers from the banks and do okay in
11/13/15 The water is still high because there has been a lot of rain in the headwaters. The
stream will be falling out fast though. There is no rain coming for the next few days. It is still
relatively warm but some insects on the list now will soon be disappearing. Wait a day or three
and conditions should be good.
11/20/15 As you probably know, there has been a lot of rain lately. The streams are almost
blown out this morning, still high and not safe to wade. That should change by tomorrow
afternoon but there is a slight chance of some more rain. Midges and Blue-winged olives are
about the only insects hatching.
11/27/15 It is warming back up with no chance of rain until Sunday. The stream is still a little
high but falling fast. It should be in good shape and offer some wading opportunity this
weekend. Hatches will be minimum and consist of midges and small BWOs. The Brown sculpin
should continue to be a good fly due to the post-spawn brown trout.
12/04/15 There has been a lot of rain in the headwaters of the Chattachoochee River and it is
taking a good amount of time to get back to levels that are safe to wade. The weather looks
good this coming week and you should be able to catch plenty of trout on little BWO nymphs
and midges. The Brown sculpin has also been doing well.
12/11/15 What a beautiful and warm weekend you have coming up. It will almost be like spring.
Don't fish like it is though, because the water is still relatively cold. There could be a little
surface action but it will be midges and small BWOs if there is any. The stream is close to
being safe to wade. Just be careful if you do try. It continues to fall.
12/31/15 The area is under a flood watch through today, Christmas day. Little opportunity exist
for those who want to wade and fish for the next few days. The water is also muddy and will
take some time to clear. The water temperature is up in the mid fifties.
01/08/16 The stream levels got back down not to far above normal levels at this time of the
year but rain is in the forecast again for the next three days. You can expect the levels to be
higher. It may be three or more days before they get back to good wading levels.
01/15/16 The conditions are looking much better than they have recently. The water level is
down to not much above normal and you may can even wade some areas if your very careful.
There is some rain in the forecast for today and tomorrow and that may bring them back up
some. Winter stonefly nymphs and the White Belly sculpin are good flies to use right now.
01/22/16 The river is rising fast due to a large amount of rain that has fell in the last few hours
and will likely be blown out. There is a winter storm warning in effect and it will be raining and
snowing through tomorrow. It will likely be three or four more days before the stream are back
in good shape.
01/29/16 The upper river is still running a little high but falling and will continue to do so until
at least Monday. It should be a great weekend for fly fishing. The weather is going to be clear
and very warm for January. Blue-winged olives could hatch but winter stonefly nymphs and
BWO nymphs should work great.
02/05/16 The river is finally getting down low enough to safely wade in places. The weather is
turning colder with snow forecast for Monday and Tuesday. Midges, winter stoneflies and little
BWO nymphs should be the flies you select to use. Fish the slack water, not fast the water
02/12/16 The upper river is getting in good shape. The stream levels are still just a little high
but there are many places you can wade provided you are careful. Midges, creams and reds,
Winter stoneflies and little Blue-winged olives are hatching at times. The water is still fairly cold
so avoid fishing the fast water and fish holes in the bottom out of the main current.
02/17/16 The river is back down to flowing just a little above normal and clear. There is rain
starting tomorrow, so it won't stay wadable very long. Right now, and hopefully, through the
weekend it will be in okay shape. Little Blue-winged olives should hatch. You may see some
Quill Gordons, Blue Quills and Little Brown stoneflies hatch this weekend but don't count on it.
02/26/16 The stream levels are high right now, but falling. They should be down low enough to
wade safely by Sunday, possibly Saturday. The water temperature is back down in the high
forties, so the odds are nymphs will be the best fly option. Hatches of Blue Quills. Quill
Gordons and little Brown stoneflies were taking place but will be very unreliable for a few days.
03/04/16 The upper river is in okay shape and will be getting even better during the next two
or three days. The water will be warming back up and BWOs, little Brown stoneflies, Quill
Gordons, Blue Quills and little Black caddis will be hatching this coming week.
03/11/16 Excellent conditions exist right now for fly fishing the upper Hooch. Quill Gordons,
Blue Quills, and little Brown Stoneflies are hatching. There is a lot of rain forecast for the
coming week but with low chances, and mostly showers. Hopefully, the stream levels will stay in
good shape. Now is a great time to be fishing the river.
03/18/16 The hatches continue and anglers using our flies are catching a lot of trout. We think
Hendricksons and Red Quills are not far from hatching. The weather is going to be a little
cooler, with some rain in the forecast. The stream levels are in great shape providing easy
03/25/16 You should be able to wade the river today. There is more rain coming, but hopefully,
not enough to change the stream levels much. BWOs, Quill Gordons, Blue Quills, Little Black
caddis and Little Brown stoneflies are still the main insects to imitate.
04/01/16 There are some flash food warning this morning and the levels are going to come up.
We think it will be temporarily, with the total rain fall amounts not that great. You will just have
to watch the levels to see the effects. There are lots of hatches taking place. See the list in the
04/08/16 As everyone probably knows, the weather has turned a little chilly and that will slow
down the hatching activity and dry fly fishing. Other than that, conditions are good, good
stream levels and clear water. No rain is in the forecast until next Monday.
04/15/16 Conditions for fly fishing the upper river is as good as it gets in April. Stream levels
are good and the water nice and warm. Several insects are hatching and our customers are
catching good numbers of trout. This should continue for the next week.
04/22/16 The streams levels are on the way up due to the rain last night and today, but we
don't think there is enough to blow them out. Lots of new hatches are underway, including
Little Yellow stoneflies, Light Cahills and American March Browns.
05/06/16 The area is under a Black Berry winter spell with much cooler temperatures. It will be
windy this weekend but settle back down by Sunday afternoon. Hatches will probably slow
down some with the colder water but only for couple of days.
05/13/16 The stream levels are a little low and the water is clear. This weekend looks great.
Sulphurs aren't on the list on the above link yet, but I just discovered they are starting to hatch
on the lower end of the freestone section of the river.
05/20/16 The stream level shot up for a half day from the recent rain showers but is on its way
back to normal and will be in good condition tomorrow and for the next week. There are lots of
hatches taking place with the Light Cahills, sulphurs, little Yellow stoneflies bringing the most
dry fly action.
05/27/16 The stream levels are down a little below normal, and you should use more caution
about spooking the trout. Stay low and hidden as best you can. There are a lot of hatches
going on but mostly, Light Cahills and Little Yellow stoneflies. This coming week should be
good. It is going to be much warmer.
06/03/16 Very good conditions exist with good stream levels (slightly low but good wading
conditions) exist. Lots of Light Cahills, Little Yellow stones, Sulphurs, and Cinnamon Caddis
hatching. Make sure you fish until near dark for the best action.
06/10/16 The number of aquatic insects hatching is becoming less but the quantities of what is
hatching is very good. This is mostly Light Cahills and Little Yellow stoneflies. Notice that we
have added terrestrials to the lis of flies you need, as they will start becoming more important.
06/24/16 The stream is running a little low at this time. You need to stay well hidden from the
trout and use stealth. The levels will likely rise soon. There is rain in the forecast every day for
the next week. Little Yellow Stoneflies are hatching good and the egg laying activity in the
afternoons is producing trout for those that imitate it. There are some good spinner falls as
well, late in the day.
07/01/16 Lower water levels and warmer temperatures has made it a little tougher to catch
trout. You need to fish the highest elevations of the river. Stay low and well hidden from the
trout and make good presentations, and you can still catch plenty of trout. We have added
terrestrials to the fly list as they will become more important as the summer goes by.
07/15/16 We did receive a good report from one customer this past week. He is fishing the last
three hours of the day, and seeing lots of spinners and egg laying caddis and Little Yellow
stoneflies. The water levels are low and you need to stay hidden from the trout. There is rain in
the forecast everyday, so the levels are likely to remain good.
07/22/16 The river is still a little low but otherwise, in good shape. There are still some hatches
taking place including the Little Yellow stoneflies. Cinnamon caddis and Light Cahills are still
hatching. There is a chance of rain every day for the coming week, so we feel confident the
levels will be back up soon.
07/29/16 The stream levels are low and wading easy, but it is also easy to spook the trout.
Stay low and dress to blend in with the background. Fish the highest elevations and early in
the morning and very late in the afternoons for the best results. Egg laying caddisflies and
Little Yellow stoneflies give you a good chance to catch a lot of trout in a short time.
08/04/16 Stream levels have shot up twice recently but fall back down about as fast as they
rise. The surrounding area is very day. There is a chance of rain everyday for the coming
week. It won't be quite as hot as it has been. The levels are currently back low, but you should
check them before traveling very far to fish.
09/02/16 The weather is turning a little cooler and that is going to be a big help. Some parts of
the streams have been getting too warm in the afternoons, but all should be back in good
shape. The stream levels should also be up and in better shape as there is a chance of rain
through the weekend. There are still some Little Yellow stoneflies hatching along with some
cinnamon caddis. Terrestrials are working good.
09/9/16 The river is very low but still okay to fish. You just have to make sure you don't spook
the trout. Stay low, make longer, better presentations. Use lighter leaders and tippets. Dress to
match the background. Fish early and late in the day. LIttle Yellow stoneflies are hatching
along with cinnamon caddis, Slate Drakes and others. Terrestrial imitations are working good
09/16/16 The stream level is still very low and will likely be that way for a few days but there is
some chance of rain ahead. You have to stay low and hidden from the trout. Fish water with a
broken surface and use longer, lighter leaders and tippets. There are still some insects
hatching and terrestrials are working as well.
10/03/16 The stream levels are still very low and the weather still hot. There are some breaks
in the daily highs. You will need to stay well hidden to catch trout. Fish early mornings for the
best results. There are still a lot of insects hatching. We have added Mahogany duns to the fly
list. Terrestrials are also working good according to our conversation.
10/21/16 Sorry for the lack of reports. The water has been low and clear, very low and still is.
It is currently 31 cfs at 0.18 ft., which is very low. We were hoping for some help last night but
so far, it isn't looking like the stream received any rain. You can still catch trout, that is, if you
can stay hidden from them.
11/04/16 The river is very low and the water very clear. There is no rain in the forecast for the
coming week. The good news is the weather is going to be cooler and the trout will be fine.
You can catch them, but you have to stay hidden and make good presentations.
11/11/16 The stream levels are still very low. The water is cool and the trout are active, you
just have to stay hidden to catch them. Get behind anything you can. Stay as low as possible.
Use lighter longer leaders and tippets and make longer than normal presentations. The trout
will eat as long as you don't spook them.
12/02/16 The stream levels continue to be very, very low. The water is cold and the trout will
still eat, it just presents a problem staying hidden from them. Longer, lighter leaders may help.
Dressing to match the background may help. Midges and blue-winged olives are the only
12/09/16 The river is still running very low and you have to stay hidden from the trout. Midges,
creams mostly, are hatching good. Fish the lava and pupa imitations in tandem with the larva
the bottom fly. Winter stonefly nymphs should also work good. Fish them early mornings and
late in the day. Sculpin streamers should also work.
12/16/16 The river continues to be very low as of the time I am writing this. This should change
soon. According to the weather forecast, the area should get some heavy rain for a change. It
is badly needed and we hope that is true from a stream level and forest fire standpoint. Midges
and little Blue-winged olives are hatching.
12/23/16 The river is still very low but it should be coming us some. There is chance of rain
everyday for the next week. It is going to be much warmer and the water should warm up into
the high forties. Blue-winged olives may hatch. Midges, creams and reds, will hatch. It the
levels come up much, use the Black Matuka Sculpin Streamer.
01/06/17 The river is in pretting good shape. The stream levels are up some but still low.
There is snow forecast for tomorrow and rain starting again the first of next week. The water is
colder, averaging about 29 degrees. MIdges, creams and a few reds, and Winter stoneflies are
the only insects hatching. Fish the Cream Midge larva and pupa in tandem under an indicator.
01/13/17 The daily high temperatures this coming week look more like late spring than mid
Winter temperatures. It is going to warm the water up in the river into the fifties and this will
make the trout a lot more active. The stream levels are little low but there is rain in the forecast
most everyday for the coming week. Don't fish like you would fish in May. It is still mostly
midges, little BWOs, and winter stoneflies you should imitate.
01/20/17 The warm weather will continue at least another week. We are not sure if the high
water temperatures are going to kick off some Blue Quill, little Brown stoneflies and other early
spring hatches or not. It is going to be close to doing that. We do know that Blue-winged olives
in two sizes are currently hatching. There's a lot of rain forecast and the streams could come
up a lot, but so far they are staying low.