The extreme heat of the past few weeks coupled with the ongoing drought situation is forcing the closure of at least one north Georgia trout stream - Dukes Creek at Smithgall Woods Conservation Center in Helen. Due to high water temperatures and low stream flows, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) has temporarily closed Dukes Creek to all angling activity beginning Aug. 16. Triple digit temperatures and warm nights are pushing water temperatures in mountain streams to levels that are lethal to trout.
"The ideal temperature for trout streams is between 55 degrees and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. We’re currently measuring temperatures at 73 degrees Fahrenheit and above," explains WRD Fisheries Biologist Lee Keefer. "At these temperatures, the stress of being handled by anglers could result in significant mortalities."
At this time, the only stream that will be closed to trout fishing is Dukes Creek. Even though this particular stream is managed with "catch and release" rules, angling stress combined with hot water can kill the trophy trout that anglers value. Re-opening of the stream to the public will remain contingent on stream conditions. Anglers planning future fishing trips will need to call the Conservation Area (706-878-3087) to verify that the stream has been re-opened.
Fortunately, trout anglers can still visit nearby Waters Creek on the Chestatee Wildlife Management Area (WMA), as it currently remains cold enough for trout survival. Anglers must possess a WMA license, in addition to a fishing license and a trout license, to fish Waters Creek.
Stream conditions on this creek are also being monitored. If they worsen, there is the possibility that this creek will also close.
For more information on trout stream conditions, visit www.gofishgeorgia.com, contact the nearest WRD Fisheries Management Office or call (706) 878-3087.