Copyright 2013 James Marsh
Fly Fishing the Chattooga River South
This beautiful trout stream, a National Wild and Scenic
River, starts in Cashiers Lake in North Carolina. It has
a lot of small tributary streams in the North Carolina
mountains before it reaches the state line of Georgia
and South Carolina. It flows near Ellicott Rock, a
boundary marker from the corner of the three states.
From there is flows along the state line of Georgia and
There are only two roads that cross this stream below
the North Carolina line. They are approximately
fourteen miles apart. You can access the stream from
Burrells Ford Road or state highway 28. It is truly a
remote stream. There are some very good trails to
follow the course of the river from, but hiking is the only
way to access much of the stream.
The headwaters of the stream in the North Carolina
area consist mostly of fast moving pocket water. The
lower section slows down a little with some large pools
with riffles between them.
This river was where the movie "Deliverance" was
filmed. It is a popular kayak stream and can be
crowded in places with kayaks during the summer, but
not anglers. Because of its remoteness, It is not heavily
fished at all.
There is a relatively new delayed harvest area
provided by a joint effort between the States of South
Carolina and Georgia. It starts at the highway 28 bridge
and goes upstream for two and one-half miles. It is
heavily stocked with trout.
The "harvest" season last from May 15 through the end
of October. Any other time of the year, it is delayed
harvest regulations. It is based on the successful North
Carolina Delayed Harvest program.
If you enjoy hiking in a wilderness setting, you will love
the Chattooga River. If you want to fish areas of the
water that isn't fished often, all you have to do is do
some serious hiking. There are miles and miles of the
river that sees few anglers, even during the prime
Short, upstream cast are all that is needed for most all
of the fly fishing. You do need to dress properly to
blend in with the background, get drag-free drifts to
catch the wild trout. If you imitate the most plentiful and
available insects, nymphs and hatching insects, you will
usually have a very successful day of fishing. Don't
forget, fly fishing the Chattooga is also much about the
overall experience and that's a sure thing.
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Recommended Tackle & Gear
4, 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 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.
The fishing is best from April to June
Spring is probably the best season to fish
The water can get a little warm during the
hot summer but it is well shaded
throughout most of its entire length.
Chattooga River Fly Fishing Guide:
Fly fishing the Chattooga River requires
some hiking. The delayed harvest season
offers a good chance to teach beginners
how to fly fish. They will catch some trout and
they can learn to hook, fight and land fish,
some of which may run as large as twenty
inches or better. The lower section of the
river can get a little on the warm side in the
summer, so the delayed harvest section is
taking advantage of this. The stream is very
wide in the Delayed Harvest area.
The best wild trout fishing exist between the
North Carolina State line and Burrells Ford.
There are a few tracks of private land
downstream of the Highway 28 bridge, but
other than that, the entire river lies within the
Chattahoochee or the Sumter National
Forest. The state stocks the trout fingerling
from Burrells Ford downstream for about five
miles. In that area of the stream, there is
plenty of food for the trout to eat but there
are not many suitable spawning areas for the
Since the river is a freestone stream, the
water levels vary with the rain. In the lower
section in the delayed harvest area, there
are some long, deeper pools and the
water can be to deep to wade in many
areas if it rises much. It is a good idea to
get the water levels if you question the
conditions. Real Time Stream Flow Data
near Clayton, Georgia
If the water level is over 2.0 feet, you
probably need to wait to fish that area of
If you enjoy being on the water by
yourself, then this river can provide plenty
of it. It just takes a little hiking to do it. It is
one of the southernmost trout streams that
exist. You can choose to fish for the
stockers in the Delayed Harvest Section,
or to fish for the wild, streambred trout and
native brook trout. It is one of the best
trout streams in the South.
Chattooga River Hatches and Trout
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
Chattooga 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 Chattooga River is a low to medium
gradient stream with a very good population
of aquatic insects.
The first insects to hatch are the little Winter
Stoneflies. They hatch from January through
the month of March. Imitations of the nymph
work good during the cold winter. The next
stoneflies to hatch are the Little Brown
Stoneflies. They start hatching about the
end of March and last until the end of April.
Blue-winged Olive are the most consistent
hatch throughout the year on the Chattooga
River. You will start to see some hatches
about the middle of February and they will
continue off and on throughout the entire
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.
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 fairly short
lived. The normal hatch last for only about a
month. This hatch is normally fairly good on
the Chattooga River. It has a lot of moderate
flowing water with a suitable habitat for the
March Browns will begin to hatch about the
middle of April. The hatch last until 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
This stream has some Cinnamon Sedges.
They are not heavy hatches but they exist in
quantities sufficient to interest the trout.
In the middle 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. Both of these hatches are usually
The Little Yellow Stoneflies, called Yellow
Sallies and one of the Smokies best
hatches, will start around the first of May
and last until mid July. 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 until July.
By the middle of August, hatches of
Mahogany Duns will begin to occur. This
hatch last for as long as two months. Also
by the middle of August you should start
seeing some Needle Stoneflies in the
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
In addition to the terrestrial and aquatic
insects, theres a lot of other food for the
trout. Small Crayfish is one of those items.
Another one is Sculpin. The Black Nose
Dace is another baitfish that is important.
Streamers imitating these and other
minnows work great especially when the
water is slightly off color.
I didn't mention it above, but midges are
abundant throughout the stream. They can
be very important when the water is cold
and nothing else is hatching. Imitations of
the larva and pupa will catch trout anytime
of the year.
Craneflies are everywhere water exist. The
larva and adults are important insects to
imitate. Hellgrammites, or the larva stage of
the Dobsonfly, is another abundant insect.
We recommend our "Perfect Fly" imitations.
They are the best, most realistic flies you
can purchase. They are also the most
effective flies you can use anywhere trout
exist They have proven very effective on
the Chattooga River. We hope you give
them a try.
Copyright 2021 James Marsh
Autumn is a good time to fish the river. It is
certainly one of the most beautiful times.
The brown trout spawn during the fall
months and the fishing is normally very
Fishing during the winter can be good,
especially on warm days.
Thumbnails: Click to enlarge
Thumbnails: Click to enlarge
Chattooga River Fishing Report - 01/22/21
There are some good hatches taking place. Trout can be caught in good numbers..
Currently, stream levels are near a normal level. We are gettting some very good reports
7 Day Weather Forecast:
Recommended Trout Flies:
Blue-winged Olives: size 18/20, nymphs, emergers, duns and spinners
Brown Sculpin/White Belly Sculpin, Articulated sculpin, size4/6
Black Matuka and Olive Matuka Sculpin, size 4/6/8ners
Midges: Blood (Red), sizes 20/22, larva, pupa and adults
Midges: Cream, size 20/22, larva, pupa and adults
Midges: Light Green, size 20/22, larva, pupa and adults
Aquatic Worms, size 12, pink, red, and others.
Winter Stoneflies, size 16/18, nymphs and adults
Strategies, Techniques and Tips:
There are stocked trout in the delayed harvest section and they will take the generic
trout flies readily but those that have been there a few months,
holdovers and wild trout are familiar with the natural food in the stream. That is why we
recommend our Perfect Flies over the generic fly patterns. We sell the generic fly
patterns but our Perfect Flies, or specific imitations, provide higher odds of catching
both types of trout.
White Belly Sculpin, Brown Sculpin and Articulated streamers will work well year-round.
The Black Matuka and olive Matuka Sculpin flies are great flies to use right now.
Hatches of various species of Blue-winged Olives are possible in the afternoons and
more likely and in greater quantities if the skies are cloudy or overcast.
Aquatic worms are working.
Winter stoneflies are hatching.
We still think the best strategy is to fish a tandem Midge rig under a small strike
indicator with the midge lava as the bottom fly and the midge pupa as the top fly. Fish
the adult midge only when you observe trout feeding on the surface.
Fishing Report Updated 01/22/21
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with the dates you will be fishing this
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