I don't really consider myself some sort of "destination angler," but between last fall's Tenkara Summit, a trip to Philadelphia, and last month's Wisconsin venture, it seems like I've been seeking as much out of state trout fishing as I have been chasing bass, bluegill, shad, redfish, and other species locally within the Sunshine State.
It's not that I dislike fishing in Florida. Florida fishing is tough to beat. It also tends to be more high impact, more extreme. The gear is bigger, the water is warmer, the sun is more intense. Oh, and the mosquitoes. Add that all together and it can be an exhausting combination...especially if you involve watercraft of any sort. It's just not the same sort of escape as a trout stream. It's just different, and that is fine.
In search of a good recharge from the work week, I headed to North Georgia last weekend to fish some trout streams that my friend first introduced me to last year. Driving the six or so hours to get to my destination at the southern origin of the Appalachian Trail is a small price to pay to relieve the accumulated stress of daily drama and deadlines. I'm not a man of many vices, but the promise of wild trout water will motivate me like few other things.
Upon arrival, I considered myself fortunate. Other cars were parked along the road and at stream side campsites, but on the whole, I didn't see many other anglers on the water. I suppose they could have been hidden by the rhododendron, but it proved a good sign of things to come.
I'm not going to detail every plunge pool or every set of riffles, but the fish were very kind to me. They were eager to interact, and I was able to score a nice rainbow on my second cast and a solid brown on my fifth or sixth. That never happens. At least not to me.
The residents really seemed to respond to a small white hackled kebari. I enjoy fishing white hackled flies for no other reason than they are easy for me to see in the water or against the wooded backdrop. Most fish were caught slightly below the surface, but some aggressive juvenile rainbows rose on occasion. There's nothing quite as pretty as the banding of parr marks.
Before I knew it, getting lost in the motions of hopping rocks, bow and arrow casting, lofting fly after fly softly into pocket water, and drifting in and out of random thought, I had spent almost 9 hours on the stream. It barely felt like 45 minutes. Not wanting to drive back to town on the winding mountain roads in the dark, I packed my gear up and contently headed back to the car.
There's no other place that I feel as care free and at ease than when standing in a nice cool trout stream. I'm not sure if it's the sound of the flowing water, the shade of the forest canopy, or what. Maybe it's just the relative solitude that a missing cell phone signal provides. I certainly don't think that hurts any.
I think more than a few of you know what I'm talking about. That's why you're reading this, that's why you grab your fishing rod and find your special place. We're all hooked on some aspect of fishing that makes us come back because it feels easy and familiar. Just like mac & cheese, shrimp & grits, or pecan pie. My comfort food is a trout stream, what's yours?