This small North-Central Georgia stream is famed for its population of brown trout.
On The Fly Freshwater
Article and photos by Jimmy Jacobs.
Jones Creek is one of the more unusual streams in North Georgia in that it is populated almost exclusively by wild brown trout. In fishing the creek during the last 40-plus-years, in addition to the browns, I’ve caught only one rainbow from it. Unlike most brown trout destinations, Jones is not a big flow. In most places it is less that 30 feet wide, with foliaged shores that demand accurate casting.
The stream rises in a Chattahoochee National Forest valley on the slope of Springer Mountain, directly west of the southern terminal of the Appalachian Trail. From there it flows in a southeasterly direction to eventually empty into the Etowah River. It’s in the northeast corner of Lumpkin County, with the town of Blue Ridge to the northwest and the historic gold-mining town of Dahlonega to the southeast.
No stocking takes place, and fishing is limited to artificial lures only. This regulation applies to Jones Creek and all of its tributaries above the Forest Service property boundary upstream of the bridge on Forest Service Road 28-1.
The trout in this drainage run from 6 to 12 inches, are extremely colorful, and can be very difficult to catch. Brown trout have the reputation of being the wariest fish in Georgia’s trout waters, and in Jones Creek they earn that reputation.
Particularly during late summer and fall periods of low, clear water, it is often necessary to downsize your flies to as small as Nos. 16 to 18. When streamside foliage allows, it is necessary to make longer casts and stay as far from the pool you are targeting as possible. It also is a good idea to wear muted color clothing, or even resorting to camouflage to conceal your presence. Under any circumstances, stalking is especially important on Jones Creek.
The brown trout’s tendency to be very wary does have its advantage. Anglers are almost assured of there being some good fish in Jones Creek at any time of the year. Since browns are fall spawners and get much more aggressive at that time of the year, Jones is a good choice for fishing late in the year. In fact, trout of up to 12 inches or larger sometimes appear right in the middle of the camping areas at this time of year, in spite of being in water that is fished regularly throughout the warmer months.
The lower stretch of Jones Creek below a tract of private land is quite difficult to reach, having no road or maintained trail access. That leaves the creek from the junction of FS 77 A and FS 877 up to the end of that latter road as the primary fishing area on Jones Creek. Through here Forest Service personnel and Trout Unlimited volunteers have placed a number of in-stream structures that have greatly enhanced the trout habitat. Above the end of FS 877, Jones Creek is rather small, but does hold some good fish.
Be aware, however, that it is possible to bushwhack around a waterfall to some good pools just downstream of the camping area at the junction of the two Forest Service roads. Since there is no developed trail through there, that portion of the stream gets very little fishing pressure.
Angling pressure is very light on all portions of Jones during the week, but picks up each weekend. The stream has a following of regular anglers, but they usually do not all show up at once.
To find Jones Creek, take Nimblewill Church Road north from GA 52 to the west of Dahlonega. This road makes a loop off GA 52, so regardless of which end you turn on, it leads to a north turn onto FS 28-1. Follow that gravel road for 2 miles and turn left onto Winding Stair Gap Road (FS 77). At 1.4 miles up Winding Stair Gap Road, turn left onto Jones Creek Road (FS 77 A) and follow it 1.8 miles to the bridge over Jones Creek. Just before crossing the bridge over the creek, a right turn takes you upstream along Jones Creek on FS 877 through a couple of fords. to the end of that road. Staying straight across the bridge leads into a primitive camping area There also is room for camping at the end of FS877.