What We Catch
Appearance: Rainbow trout are named for the broad, lateral stripe on their sides, ranging from pink to red. Their backs are olive green, and their bellies are whitish with heavy black speckling on all fins and the entire body.
Characteristics: Rainbow trout are native to the Pacific drainages of the western U.S., but were introduced into the mountain streams in North Carolina and Georgia. Like other trout, they prefer streams, ponds, lakes, and rivers with unpolluted water and temperatures below 70F. You’ll typically find them in waters with faster currents, more so than brookies or brown trout.
Rainbow trout are some of the most common trout in north Georgia. In lower elevations, they are more than likely stocked. However, as you look to higher elevations and tributaries, you’ll find more wild species of rainbow trout. These will be more colorful, but most likely slightly smaller than the stocked rainbows at lower elevations. Rainbow
Appearance: Golden-brown to olive-brown with yellowish sides. Their back and sides have dark spots encircled with light yellow or white. Some also have orange or red spots on their sides.
Characteristics: Brown trout are known to be quite elusive and transitory. They enjoy hiding among underwater structures, such as a fallen tree or a riverbank. They’re heavily desired and therefore are heavily pressured, and know how to get away.
They’re most predictable after the rains of late summer and early fall, as they’ll begin migrating towards their spawning grounds in cooler waters. They stage in predictable locations each year until early November, when they move into even smaller areas to spawn. Late December through January they’re pretty tough to find, and you can count yourself lucky if you do.
Appearance: Olive green on their upper sides with dark green, worm-like markings on their tails and backs. The lower sides are lighter with some bright spots surrounded by blue, and even more yellow spots. Their lower fins are orange with a narrow black band next to a leading white edge.
Characteristics: Brook trout are the only actual native trout to Georgia. These colorful little fish are often found in the smallest headwater streams in north Georgia, as they prefer high-altitude headwater streams with stable flows, abundant in oxygen, and low in pollution. Make sure to look for them starting at or above 2,000 ft. in elevation among the feeder creeks.
Brook trout are known to spook very easily, so you’ll need to be ready to be stealthy in order to catch them. The Forestry Service will stock popular streams in northern Georgia with brook trout (or “brookies”) in the spring, so you may be able to catch larger ones during that time.
Appearance: Smallmouth bass belong to the group of fish known as black bass. They are usually bronze to brownish green with dark vertical bars on their sides. Unlike largemouth bass, the smallmouth bass has an upper jaw that extends only to the middle of its reddish eyes. Its dorsal fin is not deeply notched. Three distinct dark bars radiate from the eye.
Characteristics: Smallmouth bass are often found in lakes, reservoirs, and cool streams. They’re not usually found in continuously polluted or murky lakes or ponds, and don’t typically dwell in lakes or ponds less than 25 feet deep.
These fish are known for their fighting ability and stamina, and can give you a run for your money! Catching smallmouth bass is a real sport.
Appearance: Largemouth bass belong to the group of fish known as black bass. Black bass are a part of the sunfish family, but are distinguished from other sunfish by their elongated bodies. Largemouth bass are different from other black bass by their lower jaw, which is longer than other bass. Largemouth bass are larger than smallmouth bass.
Characteristics: Largemouth bass prefer water that has structure below, such as stumps, boat docks, bridge pilings, old road beds, submerged vegetation, etc. They are typically found in sluggish streams and rivers, ponds, reservoirs, and lakes.
Largemouth can be difficult to catch in popular fishing areas, as they receive a great deal of fishing pressure. Your best bet is to talk with local anglers or tackle shops about what works best for the local waters to catch largemouth bass.
Appearance: Striped bass (or stripers) are silver-white with seven to eight horizontal black stripes along their sides. Their backs are typically greenish-blue and undersides white. Their large silver scales shine when held in the sunlight. They have two separate fins, called dorsal fins, along their backs. The front dorsal fin has a series of nine spines. The second dorsal fin has one spine with a series of soft fin rays. There are two spines on the gill cover and two narrow tooth patches on the tongue. Most adult striped bass are 1 to 3 feet long and weigh 2 to 20 pounds.
Characteristics: An interesting point about striped bass is that they are anadromous. This means they naturally spend the majority of their lives in saltwater, but migrate into freshwater rivers to spawn. Most striped bass spawning begins when the water temperature lowers to 62ºF.
Commissions will also stock striped bass into many reservoirs, where the habitat will sustain them. These stocked striped bass are not able to reproduce naturally, and must be maintained through stocking.
These fish tend to feed at the same time, as they move in schools. Stocked striped bass tend to be more active feeders at night, so fishing for them in low light conditions is advantageous.