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.
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.