Late winter to early spring can be a magical time of year to be on the water here in the South. The arrival of longer days and warmer temperatures bring on the much needed thaw from the doldrums of winter. Cabin fever has peaked and folks are ready to gear up and get on the trout streams to take advantage of the early spring hatches that show us some fantastic fishing. If you are one of the more dedicated winter anglers you probably start seeing an influx of cars and boat trailers at the parking areas of your favorite trout water. This shouldn’t discourage you too much, there is still plenty of water and fish to go around for everyone, especially if you seek out some of the lower elevation waters Georgia has to offer. For us here at the shop, March is the kick off for some of the best warm water fly fishing of the year! Late February and early March are generally the time frame when our area reservoirs begin to fill back up and water conditions begin to stabilize producing nice water clarity and flows in our rivers that either feed into or come out of reservoirs like Lake Allatoona. The coupling of warmer temperatures and good water flows really turn on the bite in warm water fisheries like the Etowah River. Most warm water species such as Spotted Bass, White Bass, and Stripers are transitioning out of a winter cycle into a pre spawn mode where their primary goal is to eat as much as possible. On the Etowah, we begin to see the White Bass and Hybrids really show up in numbers on top of the residential Spotted Bass. Fishing for these species this time of year can also afford us some very high catch rates. Fish can be found congregated in areas like creek mouths, submerged timber, and in current breaks below shoals. Finding a school of big hungry white bass will give your six or seven weight a serious work out! Don’t be surprised either if you happen to get sucker punched by an early arrival Hybrid or Stripe lingering in the mix, you might want to have your drag knob set a little tighter for insurance. Spotted bass shouldn’t be left out of the conversation; this time of year can be a great time to catch a true trophy Spot as well. The variety of species and aggressiveness of the fish are something not to be missed. Flies and gear for type of fishing is pretty straight forward. I tend to prefer a six to seven weight rod with either a floating or intermediate tip line paired with a eight twelve pound fluorocarbon leader. A plethora of streamers will get an eat  but I tend to favor any clouser style fly such as a Cowens Coyote or one of my White Trash Baitfish as well as a variety of crawfish imitations.

For us at the shop, there is nothing much more fun than having enough daylight after work to slide out on the water and bend up a seven weight on big old Etowah River Bass! We like to call them “after work specials”, we show up to work with rods rigged and boats hooked up and ready to hit the water as soon as the shop closes. If you haven’t tried this type of fishing before, feel free to call us at the shop and book a day out on the water or get yourself geared up for some Bassamania!

-Garner Reid

Head Guide at Cohutta Fishing Company