10/22/10
Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1.    Blue-winged Olives
2.    Little Yellow Stoneflies
3.    Slate Drakes
4.    Needle Stoneflies
5.    Little Yellow Quills
6.    Ants
7.    Inchworms
8.    Beetles
9.    Grasshoppers
10.  Craneflies
11.  Sculpin, baitfish and small crayfish (Imitate with streamers)

Fly Fishing the Conasauga River In Georgia
I guess I started something because I received a few request via email for
information on some more trout streams nearby the Great Smoky Mountains
National Park in the state of Georgia. Maybe this will help keep anglers away from
the excellent fishing conditions we have going on right now in the park. I'm just
kidding, of course, but don't forget that those same conditions are prevailing over
much of the Southeast United States. Fall is here and will be gone before we know
it, at least in the sense that the color of the outdoor world will drastically change in
just a few days. I'm sure the same excellent conditions exist in all the Mid-Atlantic
and Southern states.

Before I get to the Conasauga River, I should mention that after seeing yesterday's
article, Steve Lamb, owner of Georgia Fly Guide, mentioned that they are building a
new dam on the Toccoa River and this did cause a fish kill, but he also mentioned
the new dam should improve the fishing in the near future.

Most of the approximate fifteen mile long stretch of the Conasauga River lies within
the Cohutta Wilderness Area of North Georgia. This means you will have to use foot
power to fish most of the stream. These are rugged mountains very similar to those
in the Smokies. It's a part of the Chattahoochee National Forest. The stream has
wild rainbows inside the Cohutta Wilderness Area along with some wild brown trout
and brook trout in the high elevations of its headwaters. The stream inside the
Wilderness Area hasn't been stocked in several years. Much like the streams of the
Smokies, the average rainbow trout is small. Also, like the Smokies, some of the
brown trout are very large. They have been caught over 20 inches in length. Also
like the streams of the Smokies, the water stays mostly clear even when it's at a
high level. It flows north from Betty's Gap to where it joins Jacks River near the
Tennessee state line. The fishing season runs year-round.

The Conasauga River starts from a number of very small tributary streams in the
southern part of the wilderness area. The mountains surrounding the valley are as
high as 4,000 feet. At the point it flows out of the wilderness area, it's a good size
stream. It picks up rainfall and melting snow from a large area of land. During the
Summer, by the time the stream flows out of the wilderness area, it begins to lose
much of its cool water temperature making it very marginal for trout. The rules and
regulations have prevented the state of the valley to remain in a natural condition
mostly unaffected by man without any type of development. Since all travel is limited
to hiking (there are some trails where horses are allowed) it has reduced the visitors
to the relatively few who go to the effort it takes to see it and fish its waters. In fact,
most of the visitors are hikers and backpackers.

You can get to the stream with about a three mile hike from Bettys Gap on Forest
Service Road # 64. Getting to the  trailhead requires several miles of travel over dirt
roads. The Conasauga River Trail will take you to the river. Once it reaches the
river, it crosses it at several locations. The Hickory Trail accesses the lower section
of the river and takes you to the Conasauga River Trail. The other trails that access
the middle part of the river are just too far and steep to take unless you are more
into hiking than fishing. Primitive camping is allowed n the Wilderness Area.

You fish the Conasauga River the same way you fish the small streams of the
Smokies. You have to stay hidden and get good drag-free drift or you can forget
catching the wild trout that inhibit the streams inside the Wilderness Area.

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