My buddy has caught them that large up here,,,, If you catch white suckers around the spawn time, be prepared,,,, they follow the browns and eat the eggs,,,, I got a big one last year,,,, broke my line,,,,
They are there and those who know, KNOW. Problem is since there is a serious lack of enforcement(not at the fault of the DNR LEO's or Rangers BTW, they are doing the best they can with what they have!) in a pro development state most fishermen who fish for them do not talk about them simply because of not wanting to have these fish poached. We have a truly unique petri dish of a river system that has to fend for itself mostly. I hope this causes MORE questions than answers!
I have hooked a 8-10lb class brown on the Hooch, he absolutely turned my 5' ultra lite into a worthless tool.
The state record Brown was caught on the Hooch at a readily accessible public bank fishing spot. Its very popular and during the summer is always a popular spot with the locals. nearly 22lb Brown trout. I have seen large breeder fish dead in the 6-8lb class on the regular in certain spots of the river.
The good news is, there's big browns in pretty much any big creek or river in extreme North ga, and WNC. Catching them consistently though takes a specialized fisherman, but there's plenty there. I know of a small impoundment in WNC, it's a small reservoir known mostly only to locals that has some giants, I just hadn't gotten the nerve to tackle it with my kayak, I caught one just above on a 4wt that was almost 29" around 10 pounds, that was an interesting situation when not expected.
When I hooked my big one, it was on a Friday afternoon right after they generated. Water was still likely stained from the released and the fish just appeared from the merky depth and hammered my floating lure. Tail danced across the surface of the water for probably 20ft and snapped my 6lb line like a spider web. It was the first fish I have ever hooked, that was ripping drag and snapped the line at the same time. Surprised my 5' UL St Croix survived.