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Chattahoochee (Upper)

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   The Chestatee River can be considered the Chattahoochee's "little brother". Beginning in the northern part of Lumpkin County, the Chestatee shares bears a strong likeness to the Upper Chattahoochee, including beautiful scenery, challenging rapids, and healthy populations of game fish. Roughly 32 miles of the Chestatee are canoeable as it twists, turns, and drops along the route to Lake Lanier.

    Like the Upper Hooch, the Chestatee contains fishable populations of rainbow and brown trout in it's upper reaches, with spotted and redeye bass becoming more dominant further downstream. While shoals are abundant on the Chestatee, they are fewer and less expansive in size than the Upper Hooch, making the redeye bass a distant second to spotted bass in numbers. Luckily, both species can be taken with similar tactics and in similar habitats, so don't be surprised to encounter either or both.

    Like the Upper Chattahoochee, the Chestatee experiences a great (though smaller) run of white bass every spring, particularly between GA 400 and Lake Lanier. Stripers and the occasional walleye are also occasional visitors to the Chestatee, both during the spring and during the heat of summer. Panfishermen should focus on redbreast in the quicker water and bluegills in slacker areas.

Don't count on getting lonely when the white bass run up the Chestatee from Lanier. Word travels pretty fast!

    The Chestatee generally runs clear and green with a width ranging from 40 to 70 feet across. A canoe or kayak is recommended, because the numerous rapids (most are small, a few reach Class II or III) on the Chestatee require a craft that handles well. Upstream of the Coppermine Rd. bridge, the Chestatee is often too shallow for a comfortable float trip. If you decide to attempt this upper section, make sure you are an able paddler and be sure to leave the river at or upstream of Grindle Bridge (which I believe is on Cavender Creek Rd.). A hundred yards or so below Grindle Bridge lies Chestatee Falls, which drops 40 feet or so in a very short distance and offers no viable portage.

    GRF considers the stretch from Coppermine Road to Lake Lanier most suitable for a good fishing trip simply because the river's volume will float a canoe through most of the year. There are a few challenging rapids to keep things interesting but also numerous slow, deep areas that make the fishing easier. Parts of the Chestatee can be really tough to wade, however, due to dynamite blasting that took place years ago when the area was mined heavily. You'll notice in sections of the river that the rocks form bizarre patterns in the water. For boatless or solo anglers wishing to float this section of the Chestatee, Appalachian Outfitters (706-864-7117) can provide canoe rentals and shuttle service along with plenty of information about the fishing and water conditions. Tell them that GRF sent you!

    Like the Chattahoochee, the Chestatee is dotted with attractive homes, but stretches of the river remain quite natural. Landowners along the Chestatee have a reputation of not being very hospitable, although we have never had any problems. The Chestatee sees more canoe traffic than many rivers during the summer, but few of these people are serious anglers. Check out the Chestatee! While you probably won't be alone, you will most likely have the fish all to yourself. 

This chunky spotted bass hit a crawfish-colored Rapala Husky Jerk on a late-spring Chestatee float.


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