Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Chattahoochee River 12/14 - 12/16

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Had to spend some time out of town for training down in Atlanta, Georgia this past week , not great timing for a week out of town but I tried to make the most of it by spending a little purdeem money on a 3-day license and gas to get us to the river each night. First stop Monday after class was the local flyshop , Fly Box Outfitters in Kennesaw Georgia. The store manager , Willie, gave us the lowdown on what sections of the river to hit as well as some hot patterns for the local water. He was a great guy and took the time to sit around and talk fishing with us for a little while before we took off. That's the kind of shit you don't find in those big box stores and just one more reason to support your local flyshop. After picking up a few items and some great intel, we decided that we had just enough light left in the day to go look at the river and see what kind of water we were dealing with.
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The closest access was about a 35 minute drive for us so we set off to check it out. By the time we arrived we only had about 30 minutes of daylight left.
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We walked down to the river and then followed a trail upstream for several hundred yards checking out the water for spots we wanted to hit the next evening. The water looked damn good , lots of riffles and large boulders midstream creating eddies and seams that just begged to be fished.
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We left pumped up about hitting the river tomorrow and hopefully catching our first Georgia trout.
The next day Ron and I seemed to ask fewer questions than normal in class, maybe subconsciously hoping to get out a little early and give us more fishing time, the boss would've been proud I'm sure. I think our trainer for the week thought we were crazy as well , the weather was less than stellar with windy conditions and temps only in the 20's.
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Figures that I head South and a $$@#!$$! cold front follows me all the way from KC.
As it turned out we had about 2 hours of daylight to play with when class dismissed, better than nothing. We arrived at the Chattahoochee National Park and hurriedly threw the rods together and donned waders. Ron was going to fish a two nymph rig and I chose to start with an olive bugger.
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The first thing we noticed was that some of the rocks we had seen midstream yesterday were not visible today. It still looked fisheable to us but obviously the joys of tailwater fishing and random generation followed me from home as well. We began wading out into the swift water and soon realized that the bottom of this river was nothing like our White River tailwaters , this place had very slick shelf rock that would drop you on your ass and dropoffs that would send you in over your waders in one wrong step.
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The water steadily grew dirtier as we carefully worked our way along the shore , knowing better than to push our luck with rising water on a strange river. We stuck it out and fished what we could until the sun was down and our fingers were frozen stiff. Neither of us had so much as a bite during our first foray into Georgia waters. We knew they were there , we'd been told so and even seen the pictures on the wall in the flyshop. The classic new river skunking , it wasn't my first experience with this phenomenon unfortunately. On the drive back to our hotel (made three times as long as the drive here due to the horrendous Atlanta traffic!) we discussed our plans for the next assault and where we wanted to try next. As a side note I'm not sure the employees of the Hilton Garden Inn had ever seen a guest stroll through their lobby dripping wet and carrying flyrods and wet waders and boots , we got a few strange looks to say the least!
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As it turned out we would only have about 60 minutes of light after class on Wednesday which would only allow us about 35 minutes to fish. We chose to check out a new section of river instead of heading to the same spot and trying to squeeze in some time on the water. It was a good choice as the water levels were still high and the color a little dirty. The new spot required about a 1/2 mile hike to get to the river but looked even better than the first days choice.
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We'd been told that the following day we should get out of class a little early so we figured out where we wanted to start and called it a day as the sun was setting over the hills.
Just as promised the instructor let us out of class around 2:30pm , giving us 3 1/2 hours to spend on the river. We were flying out the next day so this was our last shot at catching a few Georgia trout and we were anxious to get started. Arriving at the river we both looked at each other and smiled ,the water looked clear and a good 2 feet lower than the previous two evenings.
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Maybe just maybe we had a chance. Still using the same setups as the first day Ron walked downstream to a long riffle while I chose the tailout of the pool above it.
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It only took two casts before I was tight to our first fish , a small rainbow, nothing to get excited about most of the time but for some reason on a strange river that first fish always seems special.
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It didn't take long before we were both hooking up on small rainbows with regularity , Ron had switched over to a woolly bugger as well and the fish just couldn't resist.
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We stood there in a cold rain catching fish after fish without another soul in sight. The only company we encountered was a group of canada geese playing around and two kayakers floating by headed for the park we had fished yesterday.
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We fished until we couldn't see to tie another fly on and figured that we were pushing the no fishing after dark regulation on this river.
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I don't normally count fish but after getting skunked the night before for some reason I kept tally, 40 rainbows and 2 browns , nothing of any size but just an incredible evening of catching.
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Ron did equally well, landing 16 bows and losing a nice brown right at his feet. It was a great way to finish off the trip and made dragging the extra baggage along for fishing gear well worth it. The hike back to the car was filled with talk of the great fishing we had just seen and how maybe a return trip might be in order for that advanced class...maybe a nice spring class with Blue Wing Olive hatches.
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