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Old 10-19-12, 08:51 AM   #1
TroutTackler
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Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Monroe, GA
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Default Dukes Tackle + Tactics

The trophy section of Dukes Creek in Smithgall Woods is one of the best, and definitely among the most challenging, trout streams in the South. Many anglers from all over are drawn in by its combination of low cost (just the cost of a parking pass), accessibility, pristine water, and the possibility of tangling with a big rainbow or brown trout in a small stream setting.

Since there always seems to be someone here on NGTO asking about Dukes, I'd like to suggest adding a sticky to this forum that includes some suggestions that might lead to increased success here.

I'm definitely not the best Dukes angler around. But I do know and have fished with several who have done very well on this water. Based on what I've learned from them, here's what I would suggest (and for those of you who are successful there, please add your knowledge to this thread):

1. It is imperative to stay out of sight of the fish at Dukes. If you can see them, they have already seem you! Wear dark/drab clothing, even camo, move slowly and stay low. Fish UPSTREAM to fish who are looking into the current. If you're behind them, they likely won't see you!

2. Dukes Creek generally has two faces:

A. When the water is low and clear: When conditions are like this, you need to go "long and light" to have success. Practically this means using long, light leaders (9-12-feet down to 5X, 6X or sometimes even 7X... Yikes!). You'll also need to downsize your fly selections in most cases. Flies like Zebra Midges, Disco Midges, WD-40s, or Soft-Hackle Pheasant Tails in sizes 18-22 can be good choices. If you need to use a strike indicator, keep it small, as well.

B. When the water is high and muddy: When conditions are like this, most people with reservations to fish Dukes will turn around and go home because, "There's no way you can catch a fish in chocolate milk!" When, in fact, for a lot of Dukes regulars, these are the prime big-fish conditions! And you can just about throw out suggestion number one and 2(A)! The big fish typically move out of the deep holes and runs where they usually sit and spread out into the areas that are usually low and wide to get out of the surging current that is now rushing through those deeper areas. In short, where you're usually wading when it's low is where big fish should be holding during high and muddy conditions. For leaders and flies, these conditions call for "big and ugly"! You can fish just about any leader you'd like (why not go 0X and take some stress out of your day? also, keep it shorter... something like a 7' works well) and now is the time to bust out the huge streamers. Big size 2-6 woolly buggers in white, purple, black or olive are great. Sculpin patters, rainbow trout patterns (if you're searching for a big brown), articulated patterns... You get it. And add plenty of split shot about ten inches from your fly to sink the fly in the fast water.

You need a valid Georgia fishing license and trout stamp AND a reservation to fish this portion of Dukes (which is broken up into four beats/sections). The stream is open to a limited number of anglers on Sundays, Wednesdays and Saturdays all year. To make a reservation, call (706) 878-3087.
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Last edited by Trout8myfly; 10-20-12 at 10:00 PM. Reason: No longer a sticky suggestion :)
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