0323TROUTaudJohn Cross, general manager of Unicoi Outfitters off South Main Street, talks about the onset of trout fishing for seasonal streams.
HELEN — Tom Query has Saturday circled on his calendar.
He, some relatives are others are headed to a catch-and-release fishing site on Davidson River near Brevard, N.C., where his party hooked a 30-inch rainbow trout last year.
"It’s a pretty good opening day," said the Blairsville resident, who was testing out a new fishing pole Sunday afternoon in the Chattahoochee River behind Unicoi Outfitters.
Saturday is a big day, as well, for area anglers, as it marks the start of trout fishing for seasonal streams.
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plan to stock more than 1 million trout in Georgia streams, rivers and small lakes by the end of the year.
"Our goal is to replenish all of our stocked streams before the end of the month," says Perry Thompson, trout stocking coordinator for the Wildlife Resources Division.
"Since stream flows are up, we’ll have an opportunity to spread our fish out well. Flow can drop quickly though, and we’ll manage accordingly."
A high percentage of available trout will be stocked by July 4 to avoid keeping too many catchable-size trout — about 9 inches — in the hatcheries during the hottest time of the year.
Remember, anglers must have both a current Georgia fishing license and a trout license to fish in designated trout waters and to fish for or keep trout.
Licenses can be bought online and at various local sporting good dealers.
The daily limit is eight trout on general regulation trout waters.
The approaching season is stirring excitement, especially with higher levels stemming from decent rainfalls the past couple of months.
"I’ve been talking with lots of people who are getting geared up," said John Cross, general manager of Unicoi Outfitters off South Main Street. "The river is in decent condition. We could still use some rain, but it is better than it has been."
The drought has taken its toll on North Georgia’s streams.
"I’ve been fly fishing in this area for 44 of my 54 years, and I’ve never seen the water where it was at summer before last — I mean it was scary," Cross said.
Anglers also have their choice of plenty year-round, or catch-and-release, streams in Georgia, including Smithgall Woods-Dukes Creek Conservation Area in Helen.
That park’s general manager, John Erbele, said he still has fondness for the beginning of seasonal stream trout fishing.
"The important thing ... is the tradition, getting out with (a family member) , camping overnight and catching a trout, hopefully," he said.
For Query, fishing has been a lifetime passion.
"I don’t drink, I can’t chase women because I’m married and I quit making Kentucky rifles because I can’t find any more curly maple, so I had to do something, and this is it," he said, laughing.