Trout stocking program in North Georgia offsets shortfall from calcium deficiency
By David Pendered
The famed trout fishing spots in North Georgia will continue to provide opportunities for anglers following an agreement for the federal government to continue funding for three fish hatcheries that stock streams in Tennessee and Georgia.
“Famed trout fishing spots” may be an exaggeration. Locally famous, or regionally acclaimed, may be more accurate.
That’s because a calcium deficiency in the soils of North Georgia prevents a robust stock of trout from growing. To provide for recreational trout fishing in these waters, a program of stocking fish and regulating fishing activities on some streams is conducted to maintain an adequate supply for acceptable catch rates, according to a report by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
The agreement to stock Georgia’s streams for another three years was announced Tuesday. The program provides funding for the program through the federal fiscal year that ends Sept. 30, 2021. The program started in 2013.
Partners include two federal entities, the Tennessee Valley Authority and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the states of Tennessee and Georgia.
“This continuing partnership will help us maintain high quality trout fishing on waters such as the Toccoa River below Blue Ridge Lake,” Rusty Garrison, director of DNR’s Wildlife Division, said in a statement.
The Chattahoochee Forest National Fish Hatchery is one popular spot among metro Atlanta anglers. The hatchery is located near Suches, about 75 miles north of Atlanta, and straddles two creeks that feed into the Toccoa River, Mill and Rock creeks. All designated trout waters are now open, according to a report by DNR.
Visitors with a valid Georgia fishing license can fish along Rock Creek and Rock Creek Lake, both located near the hatchery. The Frank Gross Campground has about a dozen sites available to accommodate tents and trailers.
The hatchery produces about 1 million rainbow trout a year. The fish are released into streams and lakes in North Georgia under the supervision of the state DNR, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Tennessee Valley Authority and the U.S. Forest Service, according to a report on the hatchery’s FWS website.
The Chattahoochee Forest national fish hatchery is one of three hatcheries that are stocked by the federal program. Two others that are stocked at the Dale Hollow and Erwin hatcheries in Tennessee.
The trout are then provided to the following tailwaters including Apalachia (Hiwassee River), Blue Ridge, Boone, Cherokee, Fort Patrick Henry, Normandy, Norris, South Holston, Tims Ford and Wilbur. Trout-stocked reservoirs in the plan include Fort Patrick Henry, South Holston, Parksville, Watauga and Wilbur reservoirs.
The economic aspect of the program was not overlooked in the statement released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The return on investment is significant, according to the statement:
- “More than 256,000 anglers are estimated to fish for trout in Tennessee and Georgia waters each year, spending about $73 for every $1 invested in the hatchery program, and producing an economic impact of about $45 million.
- “Last year, the partnership provided more than 1.1 million brook, brown, lake and rainbow trout to TVA waters.”
Garrison noted that North Georgia’s economy benefits from the stocking program.
“In Georgia, we are proud of the trout fishery and recognize that it provides not only exceptional outdoor recreation opportunities, but that it also is an important economic driver in many of our mountain communities,” Garrison said.