Trout originally were native to the Upper Chattahoochee and are now common there because of heavy stocking by DNR to support angler demand. However, they are not found in the Middle and Lower Watersheds due to a variety of reasons, water temperature being the primary one. Trout are a cold water fish and just a little south of Atlanta the Chattahoochee heats up too much for them to survive. Typically, trout do best in waters staying between 45 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Lake Harding is a man-made reservoir on the main stem of the Chattahoochee, formed by Bartlett’s Ferry Dam. The lake is south of Lagrange but north of Columbus and is not very deep so water temperatures stay fairly warm throughout the year. Due to the size of the reservoir, geographic location, and temperature of the waters, this is one of the last places you would expect an angler to catch a trout…but about two weeks ago, one did.
Unsure, but with a few ideas, I followed up with DNR Fisheries Biologist (and frequent Podcast guest) Amy Cottrell and we settled on a few likely options of how a trout could end up hooked by an angler on Lake Harding.
Regardless of how the trout ended up in Lake Harding, it is fascinating the fish was able to survive long enough to be hooked and landed by an angler. Congratulations to Steve Scott for a truly unique catch for this area of the river!