Private Waters in the Blue Ridge

I was fortunate to be invited to fish some private waters recently in the Blue Ridge mountains of Georgia. On Memorial day, I got up early and left the suburban sprawl of Atlanta behind and drove about two hours north into the Chattahoochee National Forest, up into the Blue Ridge mountains, across the Appalachian Trail and down into the valley of the creek.

After getting some careful guidance on property lines from some local neighbors, I took a deep breath of mountain air, suited up and crept into the quiet river. It became obvious I wouldn’t see anyone else for several hours and so I just let my thoughts drift off and drank in the solitude of the waters. The flow was pretty low as summer was in full swing in the mountains and there was no visible hatch so after doing a little prospecting with a royal wulff, I quickly turned to my copper john and started searching for structure, holes at the bottom of riffles and deep bends. I was rewarded with several bows, about two every hour as I inched my way upstream, about 200-300 yards in about four hours.

Under one fallen log that stretched across the river, I pulled three bows that must have been stacked up taking nymphs as they rolled underneath it. I also caught the biggest chub of my life, easily 8″ long. However, the trout got progressively larger until I had a 15″ wild ‘bow to hand who I had to chase a bit farther down the pool and turn to keep him from going over the lip and into a riffle.

Further upstream, past a long meadow pool with high sides and undercut banks, I could have sworn I’d find a big trout lurking, but alas, they were all underneath a small dam that created highly oxygenated water and cover from the baby blue skies. A double nymph rig with an unweighted pheasant tail and a beadhead hare’s ear pulled three more ‘bows from below the rapid.

Finally, I wrapped up the day with the desperate need to take a ‘bow on the fly. I walked the entire length again scanning under every shadow, overhang and in every pool…surely by late afternoon there would be a hatch and a trout hanging out in the open. Even as late as six, there was still no hatch as I reached the very top of where I was allowed to cast a line. Swimming, all by his lonesome, was a trout above the dam, lazily taking midges from the surface. Just below him, a couple of suckers seemed to be following in his wake. I tied on a cahill, figuring that in the crystal clear water and bright sky, a light fly might be seen almost as an apparition, a ghost, to fool the trout. My fist cast was all that was needed. Landing about two feet to the right of the bow in a pile cast, the trout wandered over, wandered away, and thinking the better of it, wandered back and ate my fly. I could see the tips of his fins, white lined, a wild trout.  Ah…private waters.

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