From its headwaters in Union County, the upper stretch of the Toccoa River flows nearly 30 miles through a patchwork of public and private land before it reaches Blue Ridge Lake. The river’s moderate rapids and lack of development make it a great choice for a float-fishing trip for trout or smallmouth bass. Although its extreme headwaters are in the Chattahoochee National Forest, the first 10 miles or so of the Toccoa River’s journey to the Tennessee River is through private lands. From the USDA Forest Service’s Deep Hole Recreation Area near the village of Margret downstream to Blue Ridge Lake, however, the river flows in and out of a patchwork of national forest lands. Since even this early on its journey the Toccoa is big water by trout stream standards, floating is the best way to fish the river; the river’s size makes bank fishing ineffective, and wading can be difficult in places. Using public lands as starting and stopping points for a float avoids the problem of privately held bank access. Since the upper Toccoa River is not easily fished by bank or wading, it receives less pressure than other nearby trout streams. The Toccoa River is a great class I/II paddle with a couple of borderline class III rapids thrown in, although both can be easily portaged. The developed canoe access at the Deep Hole Recreation Area is a favorite starting point, and the float from Deep Hole to Blue Ridge Lake is an excellent overnight trip. Otherwise, there are two good day trips; one from Deep Hole to Dial, and the other from Dial to just above Blue Ridge Lake. The last good take-out above the lake is at a rapid known as Noontootla Boil. This is where Aska Road parallels the river for about a half-mile. You can choose to finish your trip by running this class II+ rapid or you can take out above it. Natural reproduction in the river is limited, so most of the trout caught from the Toccoa will be stocked rainbows, and a few of its tributaries are some of the heaviest stocked trout streams in Georgia. Trout in the Toccoa make good use of the abundant food supply, and quality fish are present. Some native browns and rainbows that have migrated out of the tributary streams are also possibilities. The closer you are to Blue Ridge Lake, the more likely that smallmouth bass and perhaps even a walleye or two will show up in the creel. Key species: rainbow trout, brown trout, smallmouth bass.
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