Copyright 2014 James Marsh
Fly Fishing the Toccoa River (Tailwater)
Many Georgia anglers think the Toccoa River Tailwater is
one of the best tailwaters in the South. At the time this
was written, a new dam was under construction that
everyone thinks will improve the fishing over what it has
been in the past. That's saying a lot, if it turns out to be
true. There is about fifteen miles of good trout fishing
waters below Blue Ridge Lake. It extends down to the
Tennessee state line where the name of the river
changes to the Ocoee River. Upper Toccoa River
Fly fishing the Toccoa River tailwater from the bank is
limited because the river flows through private property.
Access is provided at parks and road crossing. We have
fished this stream on two occasions without a boat and
still done very well. We have drifted it several times and
always caught plenty of trout. It has a lot of trout that
probably only average about 12 inches but there are also
some very large holdover trout in the stream.
The Blue Ridge dam changes pace in a heart beat and
this stream borders on being dangerous. It is much better
to fish it from a boat than wading. The water levels can
change fast. It's really a small stream, width wise. Long
and very deep pools and a lot of rocky shoals also make
it difficult to wade. You can't wade it if the water levels are
high, of course.
Most of the trout are browns. There are rainbows but
probably only about a forth of the population are
rainbows. These trout act more like a wild trout than they
do stocked trout. They are stocked as fingerlings, so they
have to learn much the same way a wild trout learns.
They can be picky and very selective, unlike most stocked
tailwaters. Again, the big advantage the way I see it is the
very good dry fly fishing almost year-round. There are not
many days of the year you cannot catch trout fishing a
dry fly. Now I don't have anything against fishing below
the surface at all but it is certainly an added attraction to
have dry fly fishing available.
Steve Lambster owns the Georgia Fly Guide,
www.georgiaflyguide.com. Steve and his guides fish the
Toccoa River tailwater more than anyone I know of. He
contributed the photos of some nice brown and rainbow
trout to use
Toccoa River Georgia
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Photo Courtesy Steven Lamb
Photo Courtesy Steven Lamb
All the images used for the Toccoa River
tailwater were provided by Steven Lamb.
For cold & warm water fly fishing see
www.georgiaflyguide.com for a Guide
trip give us a call. Thumbnails:
Click Image to enlarge
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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 Rods:
Perfect Fly Superb Five or Ultimate Six
For 5/6 fly line
Fly Floatants and Misc Items:
Floatants, KISS Strike Indicators
Tools & Accessories:
Nippers, forceps, retractors, etc.
The season runs year-round
Spring is the best time to fish the
The water stays cool all summer and
fishing is good all summer long.
Toccoa River Tailwater Fly Fishing
At the time this was written, It had been some
time since we have fished this tailwater. It's a
great medium size stream to fish provided you
fish it from a drift boat, or at least some type
of boat. I mention that because there are only
five places you can access the fourteen mile
long stream to fish it wading or from the bank.
One thing we like about the stream is the fact
dry fly fishing can be very good. While many
tailwaters are very good streams, for the most
part, most of those in the Eastern United
States don't have very much dry fly fishing. In
general they have few aquatic insects that
hatch on the surface of the water, and many
of the ones that do, have hatches that last
only for a short length of time. Most of the
fishing is done with midge imitations or
streamers. Of course this isn't true of all of
them. Some have excellent hatches and this
is certainly one of them.
Even though the dry fly fishing can be great
at times, most of the productive fishing is still
done fishing flies near the bottom. Heavily
weighted nymphs work most anytime and
produce good size trout. Streamers are also
very effective on the brown trout, especially
when the water is slightly off color from heavy
As mentioned in the introduction page,
these trout can be selective towards
certain insects. Imitating those that are
most plentiful and those that are about to
hatch is necessary at times to produce
the best results possible.
Although I'm not a big fan of strike
indicators, they will work on the Toccoa
River tailwater most of the time. Double
and tandem rigs are popular. Probably
the best all around strategy during the
winter is to fish imitations of midge larvae.
If they are hatching you should use
imitations of the pupae. Most of the
midges we noticed were light green or
Swinging a streamer will probably produce
more larger trout than anything. Day in
and day out, provided nothing is hatching,
I suggest you fish either a stream or a
nymph as close to the bottom as you can
Toccoa River Tailwater 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 Green 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.
The Toccoa River is different from many
tailwaters in that you can be assured of
several hatches throughout the year that will
provide good dry fly fishing.
Blue-winged olive hatches of several different
species will be taking place on cloudy days
early in the year even in January. These
hatches can occur all the way into the middle
of April. There's also a Fall hatch that starts
in October and last for most of the rest of the
year. Little dark brown winter stoneflies also
hatch throughout the Winter.
You have a very good Little Black Caddis
(Brachycentrus) hatch that takes place in the
late Winter. It usually starts in late February
and last through March. These caddisflies
hatch almost like a mayfly, meaning
midstream on the surface. Dry fly fishing can
be great when they are emerging and later
on in the day when the female deposit their
Spring brings about several hatches not
common to many tailwaters. March Browns
start hatching in mid April and last for about
six weeks depending on which section of the
tailwater you're fishing. There are some
areas of the Toccoa River tailwate where
Hendricksons hatch in decent quantities. This
occurs in late April and May.
Later on in the year, starting as early as
late May, Eastern Pale Evening Duns
hatch. These are called Sulfurs by the
locals. The true Sulfurs hatch in June and
on into the first of July.
There are also a few LIght Cahills that
hatch on the Toccoa River. This takes
place in June. You have several more
small hatches of mayflies that should hatch
during the year according to stream
samples we took a few years ago.
Spotted Sedges and Cinnamon Sedges
are common, mostly Cinnamon Sedge.
Little Sister Caddis cover the water at
times. The Spotted Sedges and Cinnamon
Sedges start as early as late May and last
almost all Summer. The Little Sisters start
in June and hatch into mid July.
Now that I have said all that, you should be
aware that the mighty midge is still a big
producer on this stream. They hatch
year-round. Streamers probably produce
the largest trout. Imitations of crayfish and
sculpin should work great, the crayfish for
large browns and smallmouth bass.
During July, August, and September, don't
forget about terrestrial insects. Imitations
of ants, beetles and grasshoppers all work
Remember "Perfect Fly" has specific
imitations of every aquatic and terrestrial
insect that hatch in the Toccoa River
tailwater in their various stages of life. If
you haven't already tried them, you
Autumn is the time for catch large brown
trout because they spawn in the Fall
Trout can be caught most winter days.
Midges are most effective but some days
even dry flies produce.
Fishing Report Updated 03/07/14
(Bottom Of Page)
Toccoa River Fishing Report - 03/07/14
Make certain you check the water release schedule at the dam before you travel to the
lower Toccoa River.
Stream Conditions at 03/07/14: Discharges from the dam will probably be up and down
during the next week. There is some rain in the forecast.
7 Day Weather Forecast: There is rain in the forecast for today and a chance the first of
next week, otherwise clear. Highs ranging from 57 to 65 and lows from 34 to 42 degrees.
Recommended Trout Flies:
Afternoon Water Temperature: 50
Midges: Blood (Red), sizes 20, larva, pupa and adults
Midges: Cream, size 20, larva, pupa and adults
White Belly Sculpin Streamer: size 6
Black Fly: size 20/18, larva, pupa and adults
Blue-winged Olives, size 18, nymphs, emergers, duns and spinners
Strategies, Techniques and Tips:
Be sure to check the TVA release schedule shown above.
Black Flies and Midges are hatching. They are the number one and two things you
should be imitating. Don't overlook the Black Flies.
Blue-winged olive nymphs are very plentiful and available for the trout and various
species can hatch on warmer, cloudy days.
Still, the best strategy is fishing 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. Fish the Brown Sculpin streamer
anytime during low light conditions or higher water levels.