Fly Casting in State Parks

Don’t overlook the angling these parks offer!

On The Fly Freshwater

Featured Photo: Fly casting the mangroves in Long Key State Park, Florida

Janaury 2023

By Polly Dean.

Photos by Jimmy Jacobs.

Being a person that enjoys just about any activity that involves being outdoors, I’ve come to appreciate state park systems in various states, especially those in my home state of Georgia. During my visits to the parks in multiple states, it resonated with me that these sites were protected and preserved for a reason. Whether it was their historical or geographic significance or simply their natural beauty, I’ve increasingly appreciated that these locations were preserved for all citizens to visit and enjoy.

I’ve covered in my writings a great deal of information about state parks in other regions. West Virginia comes to mind as having a state park system that stood out, especially when showcasing the Mountain State’s natural beauty. Pipestem Resort State Park, located on the banks of the Bluestone River in the southeastern portion of the state, caught my attention because of the quality of fishing available. Pipestem offered an overnight trip on horseback down the gorge to the Bluestone River, where anglers could access the river for the sizable, stocked rainbow trout. This was a trip that was of great interest to me and I made the effort to experience it. The fishing and the experience was well worth the effort.

 My intrigue and interest was much the same when researching the trout parks of Missouri. Trout parks are state parks specially managed to provide an elevated experience for anglers. Roaring River State Park is one of three in the state stocked daily during the designated season with rainbow trout from a hatchery located on the property. Situated in the southwest Ozarks, eager anglers flock to Roaring River State Park to catch lunker trout (See our article in the June 2021 edition of On The Fly South).

At Roaring River State Park in the Show Me State, I saw toddlers in their mother’s laps with a fishing pole in their hands and children of all ages alongside their fathers on the banks. In the fly-fishing-only section, a beginner fly angler that had caught his first fish on a fly was high-fiving and celebrating with his fishing buddies sharing their excitement. It was a place that clearly instilled a love of fishing for possibly a life-time for each of these individuals.

My sampling of the fishing options of Georgia’s state parks is much more extensive. Most folks don’t realize that all but one of Georgia’s 45 developed state parks offer fishing options, whether it is in a stream, reservoir, pond or saltwater. In the Peach State’s parks, we have chances at landing a trophy trout at Smithgall Woods, shoal bass at Sweetwater Creek and lunker largemouth bass and panfish among the cypress trees at George L. Smith.

Fly fishermen targeting trout also have other options at state parks. Delayed-harvest fishing is available in Smith Creek that flows through Unicoi State Park. Amicalola Falls State Park had trout fishing in its Refecting Pool and is in close proximity to the DH section of Amicalola Creek. The earlier mentioned Smithgall Woods State Park is a destination for fishermen desiring to have a good shot at trophy-sized trout in Dukes Creek.

Warmwater species such as largemouth, crappie and bream are available at most of the state parks in the state. For those that don’t have a boat, access from shore and fishing piers are plentiful at many of the locations. Tugaloo State Park on the shore of Lake Hartwell provides good bank access to large bass in the spring months.  Don Carter State Park has marked canoe and kayak trails that put anglers within a fly-cast of habitat holding some of the state’s best spotted bass angling. Other species of black bass – especially the native shoal bass – can be targeted by wading Sweetwater Creek State Park.  

Grab your fly rod and take advantage of a state park in your area, or even venture beyond your state’s boundaries to sample other parks and fish species not available in your neck of the woods. State parks are generally well-worth a visit.

To get you ready for such fishing trips, visit the On The Fly South bookstore to purchase the newly released Angler’s Guide to Georgia State Parks. The 195-page volume offers details on where to fish in the parks and what species of fish to target, along with 148 black and white photos from fishing ventures in those parks.

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