There are a lot of people out there who want to find rivers and
streams to fish but don't know how to go about it. The following is
a detailed look at how I went about finding a promising little creek
less than an hour from home.
I have always
loved creek fishing. To me, catching a one pound bass from a tiny
little flow provides as much satisfaction as catching a five pound
bass from a larger one. Don't get me wrong: I love catching big
fish, and I always brag about the big ones. There's just something
about catching keeper-sized fish from places that everybody
overlooks that makes me feel like I've discovered a hidden treasure
that is right underneath everyone else's nose.
region of Georgia for "creekstalking" is the mountains, with the
northwest quadrant of the state edging out northeastern Georgia for
the top spot. Middle and South Georgia are great also, but I really
enjoy the creeks in the mountains and foothills the best. The water
and air temperatures are a little cooler, and I especially enjoy the
gurgling streams and the riffle-run-pool pattern typical of these
streams. Undoubtedly, there are some folks reading this who could
state a strong case for the creeks in their own particular part of
Back in the
day, I'd drive around with a map and upon finding a decent-looking
stretch of water I'd hop in and start wading and fishing. I struck
out a lot, usually because the creek ended up being a little too
small or shallow to grow decent-sized fish. Sometimes, I'd strike
out simply because the fish weren't biting. I came to realize,
however, that any stream with a few holes that were more than
waist-deep was worth a return trip. I've found more than a few great
little streams by doing this and each one of them feels like a
little pot of gold to me.
stopped to look at a creek I've been driving over for the last
twenty years. This creek is in the Piedmont region of northeast
Georgia and is in the Oconee River watershed. The bridge I always
cross is pretty high and you can't see the water as you drive
across. Finally, I pulled over and gave it a look and was shocked to
see that it held a pretty good bit of water. I scurried back up to
the truck and looked at my Georgia Atlas and Gazetteer (if you don't
know what this is, stop reading, Google it, buy one, and then
continue reading) and saw that this creek fed another waterway that
eventually met up with the Oconee River. I also noticed that there
was another bridge a few miles downstream.
I was in a
little bit of a rush at the time so I couldn't do any fishing or
further exploring, so I went home and checked out Google Maps on the
computer. I've marked below the information I now had available to
me just by looking at a map. Now as is customary here at GRF I'm not
going to name this little creek, so I've crudely marked out the
names of all the landmarks. The point here is to demonstrate the
process I use to find a fishing hole. So here's what I had thus far:
The next step
was to go do a little exploring. I was really interested to check
out what the creek looked like farther downstream. When I arrived at
the bridge, a quick glance showed quick,rocky water downstream and a
nice-looking pool just upstream. As I pulled in, I noticed that the
right-of-ways near the bridge were very well worn. I obviously
wasn't the first person to discover this spot. After checking all
four corners of the bridge to see if there was a decent place to
throw in a kayak (there wasn't, but I usually don't let that stop
me), I noticed a trail leading downstream. I followed it for about
twenty yards and popped out on a beautiful slab of granite
overlooking an eight-foot waterfall. I wasn't in the mountains, but
it really felt that way. This was getting interesting.
On the way back
to the car, I did notice some cigarette butts and a little trash
laying around, but overall I was pretty enthused by this little
creek. The picture I took from atop the falls doesn't do the area
justice. If it hadn't been so late, I would've gotten downstream and
taken the picture from the other direction. Anyway, here it is:
So the only thing left to do now was to actually throw a line in the
water and see what actually lived there. Just by knowing the
watershed, I had a pretty good guess. The biggest fish in the creek
are probably catfish, which tend to tough out droughts better than
most other fish. If there were bass in here, they were probably
going to be redeyes and largemouth bass, which live throughout the
Oconee watershed. I figured there would also be some bluegills and
redbreast as well. All the rocks made me hopeful that I'd find some
redeyes with all the rocks and current.
On a beautiful June Saturday, I enlisted the help of my daughter as
photographer of our adventure. I think you'll agree that she takes
better pictures than her Dad. We arrived at the downstream bridge to
find no less than fifteen cars parked at the bridge. We had to park
fifty yards from the creek! The big rock slab downstream looked like
Daytona Beach, and I was flummoxed.
managed to get the boat into the water despite a steep put-in and
all the cars. Hope and I decided that since all the people were
downstream, we'd head upstream. We didn't see a soul for the next
This put-in was no fun. Neither was the take-out.
And they're off! Yes, I now realize my hat is on inside out. It's
the new style, as is the rakish angle on one side. It's what all the
cool kids are wearing.
Before we get to the fishing and exploring, I should probably
explain why I even bothered to bring a boat in the first place.
After all, very few creeks have water that is too deep to wade.
There are a few reasons. First and most important, a kayak allows me
to see more of the stream. In slower sections, I can paddle upstream
faster than I can wade. Also, I can usually float most of the way
back even if I have to walk the boat through shallow spots or drag
over a couple trees. Bringing a boat also allows me to bring more
stuff. Even if I wade the entire time, the kayak allows me to bring
multiple rods, my entire tackle box, and a cooler. By tying a piece
of rope around my waist and attaching it to the boat I have
everything I'll possibly need and usually don't even notice the boat
is behind me, even when it's carrying an eight year-old
Over the next three hours, Hope and I explored upstream for about a
mile. When fishing a creek for the first time, I almost always throw
something small just to find out if there is anything alive under
the water. We started off throwing small Beetlespins just to see if
we could fool some bream or possibly stumble upon a bass. It didn't
take long. The bream were definitely on the small side, but we
caught plenty and even caught everybody's favorite creek fish: the
A little fuzzy, but I was pretty happy to find water this deep!
A nice hornyhead. Anybody ever eaten one of these?
The going wasn't always easy. We had to drag a couple logjams and
there were about a half-dozen spots that were too shallow to paddle
through. But there was some deep water too. You'll notice in this
picture that the water is getting close to my chest, and I'm 6'2".
There ought to be a few bass in here despite the drought of the last
two years. I was also encouraged to notice very little siltation and
a good mixture of rock and wood cover. Despite the bedlam
downstream, I don't think this stretch of river sees a whole lot of
The photographer gets a turn dragging through the shallow stuff
Eventually, I got a fish that inhaled the small lure and broke the
surface rather than quartering away from me and new it was a bass.
It wasn't big, but I was thrilled when I lipped a respectable little
redeye bass. Of course after this it was all buzzbaits, topwaters,
and spinnerbaits for the next hour, but the only strikes I got were
from overagressive bream. On the float back downstream I went back
to the Beetlespin and was content catching little bluegills and
redbreast all the way back to the bridge.
This is what I like to see!
So what did I learn? I learned that this creek has bass and bream in
it. I also learned that there is enough deep water and enough
different structure to possibly hold a two or three pound bass. The
creek is also big enough that a float trip from the first bridge
down to the second or from the second bridge down to the river might
be possible. I'm gonna have to do a little more exploring and
fishing before I attempt that, however. My biggest worry is logjams.
Sometimes these little creeks can be absolutely full of them, and
it's no fun at all dragging over, under, and around them all day.
I'd also like to see if I can have a little better luck with the
bass before I commit to a float trip. Next time I'm gonna focus on
bass fishing. I'd feel better about spending the day dragging over
stuff if I was certain there was a decent population of bass.
Hopefully this has given some of you a little insight into how you
might go about exploring the creeks near your home. If nothing else
it will get you out of the house, and you just might find your own
little treasure that lies hidden in plain sight from everyone but