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One of the best-kept secrets in Georgia is the Chatahoochee River, locally known as the "Hooch." It should certainly be on the fly fisherman’s list of things to do when visiting Atlanta, which is of course the site of the 1996 Olympics. The tailwater portion of the river begins some 30 miles north of the city at Buford Dam and contains both stocked and native browns, rainbows and brookies. The best dry fly fishing is from early March through July, and again during the fall months. The water temperature coming out of the dam is 45 degrees year-round, and remains cool enough for trout and a myriad of aquatic insects for 45 miles. Hatches are thick at times – caddis, stoneflies, several mayfly hatches, midges (Diptera) and terrestrials in the summer – classic trout diet for tailraces.
The average width of the river is 50 to 70 feet, providing ample casting room for fly fishing enthusiasts. Most locals float from bridge to bridge via belly-boat, and neoprenes are a must. Access is available at 14 National Recreation Area park sites along the river corridor. You can obtain a map of the N.R.A. by contacting the National Park Service Superintendent (*). You can get information on fishing conditions from a local fly shop owned by Gary Merriman called The Fish Hawk (*).
If you would like to use the services of a guide, a good contact person is full-time guide Christopher Scalley of River Through Atlanta (*). He uses a 20-foot johnboat with a 40-horsepower jet motor to keep moving along the river in search of trout. Full-day trips cost $185 per person, plus $50 for additional anglers, which includes equipment, photographs and refreshments.