Considered by some authorities to be one of the top 100 trout streams in the nation, the pristine 15-mile stretch of the Conasauga River is within the Cohutta Wilderness Area. The core of the Conasauga River trout fishery is found on the 37,000 acres of the Cohutta Wilderness Area. Travel in this block of rugged mountain country is restricted to non-mechanical methods of transportation, which in practice means on foot, or in a few designated areas, on horseback. The USDA Forest Service manages the lands of the Cohutta Wilderness Area as a special part of the Chattahoochee National Forest. Rising near the southern boundary of the wilderness area, the Conasauga River flows northwest into Alaculsy Valley. Along the way, many small tributaries enter the stream, giving it enough flow and width to be considered a small river by the time it leaves the wilderness boundary. Although the designated trout water portion of the river extends beyond the wilderness area, it is marginal trout fishing at best. Since reaching the river is no small feat, fishing pressure is light. Stream-spawned rainbow trout are plentiful. Some brown trout are also present, and what they lack in numbers they make up for in size. At the highest elevations in the tributaries and main stem itself, even brook trout are a possibility. Since no stocking has occurred in the river in many years, all trout are stream-spawned fish. Although rainbows up to 20 inches and browns weighing more than 5 pounds are possible, most fish caught will be in the 10-inch range. Because the Conasauga River flows through a valley that has laid undisturbed for many years now, the stream remains clear even during high water. The complete lack of fields, roads, and other human development in the stream’s upper basin has allowed the waterway to retain its pristine state. In addition, the restrictions that come with the wilderness designation have limited the recreational use the area would otherwise receive. From the spring through fall, the area is popular with the more hardy variety of hikers and backpackers, but very few of them will be seriously fishing. The Cohutta Wilderness Area is one of the few high quality trout fisheries in Georgia where you can have a reasonable expectation of enjoying your trip in complete solitude. Key species: rainbow trout, brown trout, brook trout.
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