Atlanta’s Top Beginner Trout-Fishing Holes

Photo: Tom Wilson

Hook your first trout at one of these 3 top spots in metro Atlanta.

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.

fishermen and women on the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area section of the Chattahoochee River.

Paces Mill Park 

This is about the closest you can get to downtown Atlanta and still catch a trout. Technically a unit of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (CRNRA), Paces Mill is easy to get to: Simply park in the lot right off Cobb Parkway and walk a few feet to reach the water. 
This area is regularly stocked, and you’ll find the most (and biggest) trout right off the boat ramp. There’s good wading here, as well as float access if you have a fishing kayak or tube. (Be sure to check the Morgan Falls Dam release schedule to make sure it’s safe to enter the water.) 
Fish not biting at the ramp? Try walking the 3.6-mile West Palisade Trail. It’s one of the park’s best hikes and connects several good access spots. First, you’ll wander across the river via a pedestrian bridge before heading north to West Palisades, another CRNRA unit with decent fishing. From there, you’ll trace the scenic Rottenwood Creek. (Trout have been reported in Rottenwood in the past, so if the conditions are good, it may be worth a cast.) 

When To Visit 

Because this reach of the Chattahoochee is within a “delayed harvest zone,” the best time to visit is between November and May, when the river is most heavily stocked. Just be sure to follow the regulations with regards to permitted lures and release requirements

Other resources for new anglers

Getting started trout fishing, especially when using a fly rod and reel, isn’t just about knowing where to go. Be sure to take advantage of these resources. 

Local Shops

One of the best ways to get started fishing is to visit a local specialty retailer or Public Lands store. These shops are staffed with passionate, knowledgeable, local anglers. You’ll be able to get expert recommendations on the appropriate gear and lures for the area, as well as suggestions on where and when to fish. 

Guide Services

If you’re brand-new to fishing (especially fly fishing), consider booking a local guide. They’ll provide all the gear and equipment you’ll need for the day. Your guide will also take you to a destination hand-picked for your experience level. (A quick web search should reveal options for fly fishing guides near you.)

Georgia Fish-n-Learn Program

The wildlife division of Georgia’s DNR runs a number of affordable outings for new anglers each year. Its popular Fish-n-Learn Program offers three levels of instruction. The cost for each outing is $120—a deal considering that it includes all food, lodging, and guiding fees for the trip. 


All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.