Location: Northern Georgia
Type of stream: Freestone, Tailwater
Angling methods Fly, spin, bait
Species: Browns, rainbows, few brookies
Access Easy to moderate
Season: Varies by section Supporting
Services: Helen, Atlanta
Short take: Hooch by two…mountains and metro
Handicapped access: Yes
To say that the Chattahoochee suffers a split personality is an understatement. Gathering its headwaters north in the Chattahoochee—Oconee National Forest, the top end of the Hooch offers about 2.5 miles of fishing before reaching Helen, Georgia, that funky tourist town that is decked out in Alpine architecture. The first mile or so is great for kids and bait. Then road veers away from the stream as it exits a 1.5 mile gorge. Something of an angler’s trail climbs through the gorge. Chutes and plunge pools abound, heaven for ultra-light tackle.
When most folks think of the Hooch, they picture Lake Lanier’s tailwater that flows from beneath Buford Dam near Gainesville 48 miles south to Peach Tree Creek in downtown Atlanta. The Hooch flows through the Chattahoochee River Natural Recreation Area which provides welcome respite from surrounding urban sprawl. Cool through the hottest summer months, warm enough for good winter hatches, the Hooch is a kind of miraculous trout fishery. An extensive survey of macro-invertebrates confirms year-round hatches of olives and midges. You’ll find more rainbows closer to Buford Dam and more browns closer to Atlanta.
Access to the Chattahoochee tailwater is ample and more is being added. In the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area and city and county parks along the river, you’ll find more than two dozen parking areas. Other publicly owned land provides additional walk in access. Those who want to drift the river will have no trouble picking launch and take-out sites.