The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 14 No. 31 - May 28, 2014

reel time

Fishing the Toccoa River

Reel time

rusty chinnis | sun

Captain Joe DiPietro shows Bob Seeger how to rig nymphs
for fishing the Toccoa River.

Although Georgia isn’t known as a premier destination for freshwater trout, fly anglers can find some excellent fishing for rainbow, brown and brook trout in the state’s northern waters. I’ve fished the area near Helen on several occasions and had some excellent days on both private and public waters.

Earlier this month I fished the Toccoa River near Blue Ridge with Bob Seeger. Seeger and his wife, Judy, moved to the area from Longboat Key several years ago. On a previous trip to the area, I had treated Seeger to a day of fishing on the Chattahoochee River and on this visit Seeger was returning the favor.

From its headwaters in Union County to where it merges with the Ocoee River at the Georgia/Tennessee border, the river is considered by many anglers as one of the best trout rivers in the state. We fished the section below Lake Blue Ridge, which is home to a healthy number of stocked and stream-bred trout with Captain Joe DiPietro. Seeger booked the trip through Blue Ridge Fly Fishing, the area’s premier fly shop.

We floated a three mile section of the river, a trip that started out at in the chilly high 40s, but quickly warmed to a beautiful day with sun and intermittent clouds. DiPietro had us casting weighted six weight fly outfits rigged with double nymphs under a strike indicator. The nymphs are tied representations of the larval stage of flies that hatch from the stream and appeal to trout in the cooler months when they are more numerous and there are not as many terrestrials available. Since the flies are subsurface, the indicator (basically a cork) helps the angler detect a trout’s delicate take. The fisherman has to be quick with these fish as they only take the flies for a second.

I’m always amazed at the depth of knowledge that these fly fishing guides have about the entomology of the streams they fish. Matching the hatch, as it’s known, is often critical to success. As we drifted the river our guide explained his selection of flies and pointed out different areas of the river where he knew from experience that the trout would hold.

Basically, the idea is to fish the edges of deep runs, river banks and structure where the fish can station themselves just out of the current. This way they expend a minimum amount of energy while having access to a steady stream of forage food. We had a lot of hits that morning, missed a lot of strikes but caught a few trout before we finished our float.

DiPietro had timed the trip to coincide with a daily release of water from the dam upstream. When fishing this section of the Toccoa it’s important to check the release schedule. Release information for the Blue Ridge Dam is available by calling (800) 238-2264.

Di Pietro who knows the river intimately relates, “While the whole river is open year-round, the upper end is heavily stocked in the springtime and features a delayed-harvest section, which is catch and release until it opens to harvest on May 15. No matter where you are, the caddis can be a deadly go-to fly on the Toccoa. And for the bait fisherman, giant red worms, known locally as red giants, are always a reliable way to find good fish in the upper river and tailwater. A variety of nymphs also work well throughout the river, as do small crankbaits and spinners.”

The day on the water was a great learning experience and a pleasure to fish with a guide as knowledgeable and engaging as DiPietro. I’ve had many guided trips where the camaraderie between anglers and guide is a highlight of the experience, and this was one of those days. Captain Joe DiPietro can be booked Blue Ridge Fly Fishing by calling 706-258-4080 or visit the website at

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