February is a tough month in Georgia. Fish are hunkered down, spring is still a while out, and it’s always cloudy. To keep your mind going we’d like to give you some tips for trips both far away and nearby for 2021 that revolve around good fishing.

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Hard to beat the views in the Colorado backcountry.

Destinations: Colorado – Montana – Wyoming

First up let’s talk about gear recommendations!

Rod – Scott Centric

Reel – Hatch 5 Plus Gen 2 

Line – Rio Grande InTouch 

A 5 or 6wt rod is hard to beat out West. This size rod can launch big hoppers and small streamers while also being capable at delicately dropping a caddis emergers at dusk.  As for reels, the Hatch 5 Plus is a pure workhorse reel that’s built to take the abuse that make the prettier competition crumble. We do prefer the InTouch series from Rio since it’s a full line size heavier than on the box so it loads fast rods quick and accurately. Moving big hoppers during windy afternoons takes a special set up.

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If you go early or late in the season be prepared for cold mornings and possibly even snow.

Colorado

  • #1 pick for Atlanta since direct flights from Atlanta to Denver are easy to book and cost effective.
  • The state is loaded with Gold Medal waters within a days drive of Denver. The South Platte, Eagle, Gunnison, Rio Grande, Arkansas Rivers are all within 3-4 hours drive, and the list goes on.
  • Lots of options to camp close to the water or find nice accommodations.
  • July is prime time to head up into the alpine area with a 3wt and box full of dries.
  • Great bug hatches from June till late fall (think mid-October out there) that translate into unbelievable dry fly fishing. Late summer there’s a great hopper bite as well as ants and other terrestrials.
  • The biggest con to Colorado is the amount of pressure the fish receive. Most summer mornings include full parking lots, rivers with rafters, and some hole hopping. People that don’t mind a 20-45min walk will be rewarded. Not only do you get better fishing but you see fewer people.

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The Collegiate Peaks are the dominate feature you’ll notice in the Arkansas river valley. 14ers (14,000′ or higher) are present throughout most of Colorado! 

 

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Colorado boasts a very healthy population of 12-18″ brown trout in the bulk of it’s waters. There are also rainbows and cutties in the same waters usually. Brook trout are found in higher elevation streams.

 

Montana

  • Similar to Colorado Montana has great access for people looking to travel by air. Bozeman and Missoula will be the easiest for Atlanta anglers looking to book cost effective flights. The East Fork of the Gallatin runs right beside the Bozeman airport so you can hit the ground running.
  • Montana rivers do best when floated, so there’s plenty of lodges and guides to get you on fish. There’s also plenty to keep wade anglers busy if they don’t mind some leg work and smaller water.
  • Notable rivers include the Madison, Yellowstone, Missouri, and Clark Fork. Rock Creek outside of Missoula is the top water for wade anglers as boats aren’t allowed to float it after June. There’s more than 20 miles of creek that goes thru open pastures to deep rock gorges to keep anglers on their toes.
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Missoula and Bozeman both have solid fishing near but to really get the Montana experience you need to do some camping. Most car camping set ups these days are just about as comfy as your bed at home.

 

Wyoming

  • There’s more to Wyoming than Jackson Hole and the Snake River. Still worth going because the Snake has so many different opportunities but don’t get hung up on it and miss out on the other incredible pieces of water out there.
  • No one lives here so plenty of public land to play on. Lots of rugged BLM land and National Forests for free camping.
  • Yellowstone National Park is loaded with fishing opportunities and it can keep the family happy if you’ll be traveling with them. They do require a separate fishing license to fish inside of park boundaries (they do not accept Wyoming state licenses), so remember to snag one from the visitors center on your way in. Luckily it’s cheaper than the state license anyways! Yellowstone is also easily accessible from Bozeman, MT! It’s nearly a straight south drop out of the Bozeman area on highway 191, and along the way you’ll pass the Madison and Gallatin rivers, so consider a few days in the Big Sky valley on your way to West Yellowstone.
  • Notable waters include the Wind River, Green River, North Platte, Snake, and Gros Ventre.
  • Travel may be more complicated than Colorado or Montana since the size of cities in Wyoming doesn’t compare and things are much more spread out. There’s still plenty of airports in cities like Cody and Casper but they’ll be more expensive than Jackson.
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The Wind River Range in central Wyoming is loaded with high alpine lakes as well as plenty of creeks.

 

Closer to Home

Flying and long road trips can be expensive and exhausting but that’s no reason to stay stuck in Atlanta this summer. The Southeast has incredible opportunities close and far.

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The Southern Appalachian Brook trout is the prize for anglers willing to bush whack, study maps, and traverse rough forest service roads.

 

North Carolina

  • There hundreds of miles of water in this state to keep anglers busy but two hot spots we enjoy are the Smoky Mountain National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway.
  • The Smokies are full of trails that make accessing high elevation brook trout streams feasible in a days time.
  • Fishing along the Blue Ridge Parkway requires some more research to find streams that intersect. Both of these locations make great summer spots since elevations can push 4,000 ft thus making them much cooler than other areas. It’s not uncommon to wake up and fish the Parkway in June with morning temps in the low 50s or high 40s.
  • Asheville is a good jumping off city because it can keep the whole family entertained but still close to amazing water. There’s no shortage of lodging and world class dining here.
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The views from the Blue Ridge Parkway are stunning. There’s plenty of great hiking and pullouts along the road when you need a break from catching brook trout. The Parkway starts in Cherokee, NC and ends in Afton, Virginia.

 

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Camping on the parkway is great in the summer with night time lows getting in low 50s or high 40s. An afternoon thunderstorm will cool things off even more.

 

Virginia

  • Virginia is loaded with history as well as fantastic trout fishing. Most of the streams are small but the states natural resources department has done a great job at habitat restoration and implementing good angler practices.
  • Whitetop Laurel Creek is one of the top streams in the state as well as the Southeast.
  • Big Wilson Creek’s headwaters start in Mount Rogers Rec area. This classic Appalachian stream’s headwaters have deep poles that harbor rainbows and brookies.
  • The South Fork of Holston starts in Viriginia. The stream is small but it has produced the state’s record brown trout. The upper reaches require a long drive so this keeps crowds down.

Spring and summer wildflowers in Appalachia are impressive. On some balds there will be large blueberry patches that start producing fruit in July.

 

We always love to help outfit you for your daily fishing needs as well as your next big adventure. Come by the shop for maps, guides, first hand advice as well as the gear you need to be successful on your 2021 trips!