Showing posts with label Georgia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Georgia. Show all posts

June 27, 2023


Fish are meant to stay in the water. No, I'm not preaching for you to "keep 'em wet." It's an actual truth, or so I'm told, that fish belong in the water. Something about gills and breathing. It's only our questionable oversight as anglers that chooses to remove them from that sanctuary. Be it permanently for tablefare, temporarily for sport, or these days, egotistically for the 'Gram.

After a week of catching some hefty brown trout in the meandering spring creeks of southwestern Wisconsin, I switched gears and redirected myself to the sanctum of the Georgia headwaters, seeking a reunion with its much smaller, wild, resident rainbow trout.

The day was gorgeous, with just enough warmth from the sun to occasionally pierce the crisp air that can only be found at altitude during the heat of the southern summer. And even better, the trout were in a good mood, or at least a hungry one, their metabolisms likely jumpstarted by the pleasant weather.

While the fish weren't particularly picky, repeatedly succumbing to any and all sub-surface offerings, they immediately reminded me how slick and slithery they can be, once wrangled from the water, fooled by their eyes and stomachs. 

See, those Driftless browns tend to stay put after the throes of battle. Once conquered, they gently lay down their flag. This submission allows you to hoist them from the water momentarily to get a closer look, dress their wounds by dislodging the hook, then if you choose, return them from whence they came. Their captive behavior resembles a form of situational awareness, as if they understand the war is almost over and their time as a prisoner will be brief.

However those rainbows... Oh, those plucky little Georgia rainbows choose not to go down without a fight. While they may be brought to hand faster, it's only a ploy. A Trojan horse approach to combat in which they strategically get as close to their adversary as possible before unleashing a full artillery of spasms, gyrations, and convulsions. Anything to jettison the hook and then return to the water defiantly and without exploitation. As anglers, we're the Russians and they're screaming "Wolverines!"

That's why those little mountain rainbows have earned a special place in my heart. They may not be the biggest fish, but they never surrender. They never quit. Fight on Wolverines.

April 11, 2023

The Warmth of a Greasy Burger

"I like fishing in the rain..."

I knew it was going to rain. I had watched the conditions on my phone's weather app for a week. No matter how many times I checked, it still said it was going to rain all day on Saturday. 100% chance of precipitation, sunrise to sunset. No window of clear skies, and not just a drizzle, a persistently steady rain all day long. 

"I like fishing in the rain," I lied to myself. It's not blatant dishonesty, I don't mind fishing in the rain. You're pretty much guaranteed to not encounter another angler, which in April on a trout stream is a rarity. But that enjoyment pretty much ceases once that drizzle turns into a downpour. I don't live in the Pacific Northwest. I'm not a steelheader. Wet is fine, soaked is another story.

All that being said, the misguided internal voice in my head was convincing enough to drive my body up to North Georgia last weekend for my first trip to the mountains in 2023. Seven hours later, I was in a hotel room, turning the light out and looking forward to Saturday morning.

Let's check out the stream...

Upon awakening and looking out the window, the weather app was accurate. Damn android weatherman. It was in fact raining. Smart people would have taken that as a cue to go back to bed. Delusional trout anglers disregard such common sense and head off to the stream anyway. At least I was correct in the fact that there were no other anglers to be found.

What I did find was high, fast, and almost blown out waters. Not the worst I've ever encountered, but the kind that aren't exactly the safest to wade when you can't see anywhere near the bottom. Whatever, I'm here, might as well fish.

3 inches of fish...

Well, what happened the rest of the day was a sloppy, off balance traverse upstream, a half dozen lost flies, and three foolish little rainbows to hand. One of which earned the distinguised title of "Mike's First Trout of 2023." I mean what trout wouldn't want that honor?

There's a point in time when even the best rain clothes start to soak through. That time was about 1:30 PM. After fishing for about 5 hours, I decided to call it quits early. Being wet, cold, and hungry isn't a great combination. And the catch rate of 3 inches of fish per hour wasn't proving incentive enough to stay out in those conditions.

After retreating to the car and drying out while driving for a bit, I asked Google to find "food near me." The phone directed me to the warmth of a really good burger and onion rings. It kind of took the hard edges off the day and turned around a soggy mood after a few greasy bites.

A full 180...

After a non-eventful evening I found that the next day, Sunday, lived up to its name. Instead of being dark, chilly, and wet, it was bright, warm, and beautiful. It was a full 180 when compared to the day before. On my typical weekend trips to North Georgia, Sunday has always been the day to drive back home, which I usually choose to do relatively early foregoing fishing. But this time, hoping for a bit of on-stream redemption, I chose to head back to the water instead of south toward Florida.

Boy, was I rewarded. It's amazing what a few hours of clear skies can do to a high gradient mountain stream. The flows had slowed, the murkiness had cleared, the bugs were out, and the fish were rising. The coincidence of seeing rainbow (trout) after the rain was not lost on me.

What played out was another handful of hours of fishing, many more wild visitors, and just an enjoyable day on the water. The kind that erased any of the previous day's mishaps. It was an ideal way to close out the weekend and made the long drive home go by just a bit quicker.

But Sunday...

In retrospect, it was still probably, no... definitely stupid to convince myself that it was a good idea to go fishing on Saturday. Much less spend half a day on Friday driving to do so. There were no signs indicating that the conditions (nor the actual act of fishing) would be good. And if I was being honest, I'd tell you it wasn't. I caught fish, but it was extremely forgettable. And did I mention wet?

But Sunday... Oh, Sunday's success wouldn't have happened without Saturday's mess. And I guess that made it all worth it plus some. Fish after fish, each release creating a new memory and getting 2023's trouting off to a wonderful start.

While the sun certainly played its part changing the waterlogged tones, no matter how much you try to tell me otherwise, I think my trip's fortunes turned with the warmth of that greasy burger.

Oh, and if you're ever in the area, stop by Sue's. It's worth the trip.

March 6, 2022

Me Time

Sometimes you just want to be alone.

I love my family, I enjoy the company of good friends, but there is nothing quite as refreshing as solitude on a headwaters trout stream.

A recent trip to North Georgia allowed for a lot of "me time." 

It's multiple hours of driving each way. One's mind can wander through an encyclopedia of topics as the monotony of those highway miles melt away the daylight. Racing your GPS's predicted arrival time can be a fun, but fleeting distraction.

You know the weather isn't supposed to be great. The fishing that "turned on" with the warmer Spring temperatures earlier in the week is forecasted to retreat, in favor of overcast skies, intermittent rain, and piscatorial lethargy.

But that's okay. Soon enough it's only you, and the omnipresent whisper of flowing water as a companion. Stepping beneath the canopy, it's soothing... relaxing... the perfect elixir to all that ails.

You fall into an almost trance-like state while meandering up the steep mountain flow, softly dropping casts into pockets of soft water, one after another after another.

Suddenly, you are jostled out of inebriation by a taut line and bending rod. A visitor bringing a jolt of adrenaline pays a welcomed, albeit brief visit. Arriving dressed for the occasion, you pause to admire their stunning attire. However shortly after your handshake greeting, they quickly, but silently depart.

People fish for a lot of different reasons. For food, compensation, entertainment, or even notoriety.

Growing up an only child of divorced parents, I was able to regularly explore the benefits of detachment, affording me the ability to stretch my imagination and independence on demand, without oversight. 

As I grow older, it's become apparent that I fish to immerse myself in that comfortably nostalgic feeling of being alone. No emails, no deadlines, no responsibilities. Only a seven hour drive for seven inch fish. 

And I wouldn't have it any other way.

March 13, 2021

Expedition: Bigfoot!

Only The Best In Roadside Attractions...

In the last post about fishing up in North Georgia I noted that while fishing was quite therapeutic on Saturday, I didn't return to the stream on Sunday.

But why T!, why?

Well, I'm a sucker for a roadside attractions, (see Exhibit A), and I'm also mildly obsessed with Bigfoot... Sasquatch... or whatever you'd like to call the big furry fellow.

A short 20 minute drive from where I was fishing on Saturday happens to be Expedition: Bigfoot! a roadside museum and research center dedicated to all things Sasquatch.

Oh man, I was in absolute heaven. The museum consists of 3 large rooms, each with interactive exhibits and several short videos to watch, as well as a lot of interesting artifacts and replica items. There's also a small gift shop strategically placed at the exit. (Yes, they got me for a t-shirt and a button).

I would guess it would probably take a person with casual interest or curiosity an hour and a half to take in all the sights. I probably could have spent the whole day in there, but I didn't want to loiter.

I particularly enjoyed some of the exhibits centered around "close to home" sightings; especially those in Florida and Georgia.

There were a ton of footprint casts to gawk at too. Most of them were from North America, but there was a Yeti cast from the Himalayas.

Finally, headphone banks featuring both the tale of the "Attack in Ape Canyon" as well as the 1970s "Sierra Sounds" (with complete backstory) were must listens. If you've never heard the latter vocalizations, you can find them online if you know where to look.

Look, I get it, this isn't for everyone. But if you're like me... and happen to be in North Georgia, (like I said, the nearby fishing is pretty good), you gotta check this place out. And at only $8, it was a bargain!

Address & Map:

Expedition: Bigfoot
1934 Hwy. 515
Cherry Log, GA 30522

March 10, 2021

Window of Opportunity

A brief window of opportunity opened last weekend that prompted me to get out and trout fish again. I was the first time I'd be fishing for trout since 2020's Labor Day weekend, so excitement was abound. The plan was to head up to north Georgia on Friday night, then get pretty much a full day of fishing in on Saturday.

Being that the local delayed harvest water had just been stocked the day prior, the "crowds" decided to descend on those well-known waterways. On the other hand, I had the smaller, yet also well-know wild trout water to myself, with not another angler to be seen. Off to a good start.

Upon arrival, the tailgate ceremony of "gearing up" began. In doing this, I noticed something unfortunate... I need to drop some of that quarantine weight! I've probably put on twenty pounds over the past year, largely due to inactivity and overeating. This made getting wadered up a chore. It wasn't so much pulling them up, rather straining to bend over to tie my boots. Just didn't expect that spare tire around my waist to get in the way as much as it did. Yikes.

However, once in the water, my blood pressure settled down quickly and I began savoring that "good to be home" feeling. Fishing was generally slow at the start, allowing me to unwind, enjoy the surroundings, and almost get lost in a meditative state. For the first hour and a half I don't think I even moved a fish, but that changed once the sun got a little higher in the sky. 

First, a light hatch started popping off sending tiny bugs into the air. This was followed by a bit of activity in a nearby pool. Then after a short drift through some promising riffles, I had my first trout of the year on the line. It wasn't particularly large, as most of the fish in these headwaters aren't, but it certainly was nice to get reacquainted with the local rainbows. Removing the release box from my pack, a quick photo was in order.

The day proceeded as such, bringing a handful of fish to hand. Sometimes they came in mutliples; two or three over fifteen or twenty minutes. However, sometimes quite a bit of time would pass before they paid any attention to my flies again.

This 8-inch rainbow was probably the largest of the day, which isn't saying too much.

And this tiny little parr, who could barely wrap its mouth around the fly, was the prettiest.

This trip was a "tenkara" outing, using the Oni Type III in the morning, then switching over to the DRAGONtail Mutant after a quick Fig Newtons lunch. By the way, figs are totally underrated, even when not in Newton form. Like many people, my wife hates the thought of them, but I love them. Give me a dried Turkish fig any day and I'll be a happy man.

Back to the rods, I'll be doing a write up on the Mutant over at Tenkara Angler in the not too distant future. While both rods served their purpose, the Mutant definitely had a bit more mojo on its side on this day.

Before I knew it, the sky began to fade to dusk and it was time to climb the bank and exit the stream. Waders off, rods stowed, an emotion of warmth radiated through my body as I pulled onto the dirt road that led out of the park. Or maybe it was just the heat being cranked up in my SUV... 

Either way, it was a successful first trout-ing of the year. Hopefully setting the stage for many more to come.

Oh, and as for Sunday, I didn't go fishing. But I'll touch on that a little more in an upcoming post...

February 25, 2021

The Splat Rat and Other Miscellany

Weekend Plans in Limbo

I was hoping to head up to North Georgia this upcoming weekend, but the weather doesn't look all that favorable. A seven hour drive for uncertain fishing conditions might be a bit too big of a leap of faith to take, but I still have a few days, so we'll see how that works out.

I'm particularly excited to get fishing again because I have a new tenkara rod to play around with, the relatively new Dragontail Mutant. Brent Auger was kind enough to send over a tester so I could do an evaluation and review over on Tenkara Angler, and since it arrived last Friday, it's been screaming for a proper workout.

The Splat Rat

Over in Facebookland, Jason Sparks recently shared an article about shrew-eating trout. The article was not new, actually dating back to 2013, but it got me thinking about a pattern I'd really like to start tying up. Not necessarily for trout, but for local bass. It's called the "Splat Rat" and it seems like a ridiculously easy fly to tie. Plus it utilizes a somewhat "unique" ingredient, foam pipe insulation. 

I was first introduced to the pattern by Kai Cornelius (a fellow tenkara angler), who used to fish it liberally when he lived out in Utah. But for whatever the reason I never acted on the impulse to actually tie one before. Think that'll change, especially if I do get washed out this weekend and have time to make a run over to the hardware store for essential supplies.

Here's a quick video on how to assemble one from noted tyer, Rob Snowhite.

Beer Me!

Finally, I received the latest TROUT magazine the other day and in paging through all of the interesting entries, there was an eye-catching (and perhaps thirst-quenching) conservation initiative highlighted on page 63.

Heirloom Rustic Ales in Tulsa, Oklahoma recently partnered with local Trout Unlimited Chapter 420 to create Longear Lager, a very "fishy" beer that contributes $1 from each four pack sold back to that TU chapter's conservation efforts. A very worthwhile cause... plus, the cans just look damn cool. Seems like a win-win to me!

August 31, 2020

August Update - Finally With Fishing Too!!!

I posted some of this over the weekend on Facebook. So if we're friends there, you've already seen it. I won't be offended if you leave now. That being said...

I didn't do a follow up post from our mini family getaway to north Georgia the other week. By 2020 standards, it was amazing. For the most part we just continued to social distance, simply in a new location. The biggest change, besides the potential for an evening bear visit to our trash can, was much cooler temperatures. 80s during the day, 50s at night. Glorious. As was the view off the back porch.

We weren't in a cabin, but we were definitely staying a bit off the beaten path. And by that I mean we were an hour's drive from the closest Target. (Sorry Dollar General, you're no substitution in K.C.'s eyes). I got to sneak out for two days and fly fish for rainbow trout in the mountains. Heavenly. 

While I did that, the ladies chilled at the house and avoided creepy crawlies. They were none too fond of the spiders found in the various nooks and crannies of the house. Can't say I blame them, but no spider would stop K.C. from binging Netflix: Indian Matchmaking. (BTW - is it "bingeing" or "binging," I've seen both used...)

A week or so removed from that and now safely(?) back in Florida, Lilly doesn't seem to be all that thrilled to be returning to school (albeit virtually) on Monday. It's her first week of high school as an incoming 9th grader, so she and K.C. have been spending a lot of time setting up our dining room to be her classroom/dedicated workstation. Work in progress...

We were told that my office would also be working remotely through the end of the year, so I picked up one of those headsets for conference calls. I guess so I can still be heard when I speak quietly, but really so I don't have to subject my family to constantly overhearing them anymore. And with the NFL football season here I'm going to have A LOT more of them. Can't interrupt Lilly's learning with me growling at vendors for not delivering the Patrick Mahomes jerseys on time. Priorities. 

If you didn't notice, I've also taken to wearing headbands. At first it was a joke because my friends at work were making fun of my long(er) hair, especially on the days I don't feel like combing it... which is pretty much everyday. I wore a headband on Friday to get a rise out of them on one of those aforementioned conference calls, but (like everything else in 2020) it was canceled. In addition to making my head resemble a mushroom. I think the forehead compression helps my brain retain whatever intelligence it has left after the last 8 months of the year.

Anyway, hope everyone is doing well out there, wearing masks, washing hands, and all that good stuff. If you have kids, I hope the new school year or day care situation isn't too scary for you. And if you're a teacher going into the scholastic petri dish each day - I cannot respect and thank you enough for what you're doing. I honestly can't imagine, especially (but not limited to) folks considered "high risk." ❤️

I'm confident we'll figure this thing out eventually. Positive thoughts go a long way!