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The "Hooch" Below Lake Lanier is a Great Place in Summer by Bill Vanderford

Trout in the Hooch
Trout in the Hooch
Photo by Bill Vanderford

The summer heat and record-setting boat traffic finds lots of local residents looking for other options this year. Many of those who still love to fish or observe nature, however, look to the cool waters of the “Hooch” below Lake Lanier as a viable option.

The water coming from below the dam at Lake Lanier is always near 50 degrees, and the scenery is breathtaking! Abundant wildlife that could include turtles, muskrats, beavers, great blue herons, ospreys or an occasional eagle can be seen, and the lower Chattahoochee River is teeming with explosive brown and rainbow trout to catch.

Adequate ramps are available, so anyone with a canoe or small, aluminum jon boat can carefully fish the river. Nevertheless, a few of the rapids and other shallow places can be rather difficult for any newcomer to the river.

Both stocked and native rainbow and brown trout can be found almost anywhere in the river. They are in both the fast and slower water areas as well as both the deep and shallow parts. They utilize rocks or fallen trees as cover from which to attack any edible creature that might be swept by with the current, and many of these hiding places are right down the middle of the river.

Though Chattahoochee trout might hit a multitude of tiny lures, the most productive artificial offerings seem to be smaller crankbaits or tiny Swirleybird spinners. When using these lures, always cast across the current and allow the lures to spin or flutter naturally in the current. In deeper sections of the river, a slower retrieve is better for attracting the hungry trout. Gold or silver are normally the most popular colors, but other shades of lures have been successful as well.

Since the river teems with crawfish and stone flies, Small plastic worms in red or other bright colors are also productive at times. One can also cast artificial insects with a fly rod to lure the trout.

Though the early morning or late evening hours provide a darker, foggy atmosphere that makes trout quite active in the clear waters of the “Hooch,” anglers catch trout throughout the day. Overcast days can also be excellent, but during the heat of summer, morning seems to be the best time.

Learning to fish a fast river with all the currents, obstacles and rapids can take some time. Therefore, “newbie’s” to the river seem to have trouble “reading” the waters, but instruction is always available at Nevertheless, the Chattahoochee River has a healthy population of trout that are fairly easy to catch. So, instead of running off to some exotic waters this summer, enjoy the beauty and coolness of the “Hooch” and experience the excellent wildlife show and some of the best summer trout fishing available anywhere!

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