No matter how many years you’ve had a rod in your hands, you’ll always remember your first trout: the feel of the fish’s weight, the translucent fins, its iridescent body flashing in the sun. If you’re not already sold on trout fishing, this moment will have you hooked for life. The good news: if you’re based in metro Atlanta, you won’t have to go far to find it.
While many of Georgia’s trout streams are tucked away in the Appalachian foothills, there are a number of hidden gems tucked right along the Chattahoochee River—some just a few miles from downtown. These three honey holes have good numbers of stocked rainbow trout as well as coveted, wild-born brown trout. They offer straightforward parking, short approach trails, and easy water access.
Here are the three best spots to catch your first trout in the metro Atlanta area.
Lower Pool Park/Buford Dam
Located just downstream of Buford Dam, Lower Pool Park receives a constant flow of ice-cold water from the depths of Lake Lanier—making it perfect for both stocked rainbows and the occasional brown. (Note that there are take limits during certain times of the year to help protect the trout population from overfishing; read the latest regulations from the Georgia Dept. of Natural Resources.)
One of the easiest ways to access the water is via the Buford Dam Tailwater Boat Ramp. Cast straight from here or from the adjacent banks, or go for a wade. If you plan to enter the water, be sure to check the dam release schedule to make sure conditions are safe, and wear waders to protect your legs from the frigid current. (Lifejackets are also required here.)
All that said, the best and safest way to fish this section of the river is to plan a float trip. Put in at the Buford Dam Tailwater Boat Ramp and let the water carry you south to Settles Bridge. (Either have a buddy help you stash your car at Settles the morning of, or pick you up that afternoon.)
Jones Creek Park
Located along the stretch of river between Old Alabama and Barnwell Roads, Jones Creek Park is home to about 5 miles of hiking trails, shaded banks, and a wide boat ramp. It’s also right smack in the middle of one of the most productive reaches of the Chattahoochee.
For a quieter, wilderness feel—and boat ramp access—head to the west side of the park. White-tailed deer are common here, and the occasional trail runner or dog-walker will be your only company on the wooded singletrack.
If you’re looking for more space to spread out, head to the east side of the park (located along the Chattahoochee’s southern bank.) This section offers good wading access, as well as a pavilion and meadow perfect for lunch breaks.