Monday, November 3, 2014

It's Not "If" But "When" Redux

Please don't try this at home!
Ed. Note:  Re-published by popular demand
Many of you know that my claim to fame is that I've taken naps on some of the most famous trout streams in North and South America.  It's an honor I accept proudly and hope to expand my resume' in the coming seasons.  But as I bask in the sunny glory of my accomplishments it is becoming obvious to me that advancing years are opening up another category for me; taking unplanned dunks in many of those same streams.

I could blame it on an inner ear thing.  A couple of years back I was climbing out of the Chattahoochee River after some shoal bass fishing and as I got both feet up on the bank I simply began to fall backwards for no apparent reason.  Fell off a four foot bank flat on my back on a big rock in the river.  Ouch!  I honestly thought I had broken some ribs.  And this was about 3 days before I was headed to Yellowstone.  Thankfully, I was just bruised and scraped up a little.  Turns out I did have an inner ear problem so I didn't have to chalk that one up to getting older.

I could also blame it on the fish.  While fishing the Madison River with my friend Don Baldwin in 2008, I hooked a nice rainbow in a riffle just upstream of a section of rapids where the river diverted around a huge boulder and logjam.  Of course the fish immediately took off for the rapids and with the force of the river helping her, it was impossible for me to get her back upstream to me so I decided to carefully pick my way around the boulder while holding on to the log.  It's funny how having a good fish on the end of your line can make you do irrational things.  As I got half way into my maneuver, I realized there was no bottom beneath my feet.  I see Don running to put his gear on the bank and hear another angler nearby yell, "Are you going to help him?".  Don's reply, "Heck no, I'm getting my camera!"

My only other option as I see it is to blame these events on, as my eye doctor told me, too many birthdays.  It's difficult to accept this one but it may be true.  This past Saturday, after a fine low country boil lunch with the Rabunites on the Chattooga River, I hit the Delayed Harvest section about 2:00 for an afternoon on the most beautiful river in the southeast.  It was one of those days where I literally did not care if I caught anything or not.  I really do have those!  I found myself an hour and a half later still working the same pool.  It's one of the deepest pools on the river, the water was crystal clear and I could see several big fish sitting near the bottom.  I got into my hard-headed mode and decided to keep changing things up until I got one.  Never happened.  One dinky rainbow was the only one I fooled.  But back to my story.  I was standing on a ledge on the east side of the river overlooking the pool and turned around to walk out.  In my mind, all this happened in slow motion when my right boot began to slide off the edge.  I suppose I could have thrown my body backwards and landed in 18" of water on the ledge but your mind will trick you into thinking you'll regain control, catch your balance and walk safely out.  Never trust your own mind in these circumstances!

Remember, the pool I've been fishing is a good 8 or 10 feet deep, right off the ledge, sudden drop.  I'm now 46º water!  Invigorating but not recommended.  You need to understand, I didn't stumble and catch myself then stood up.  I was FLOATING!  If anyone was near enough to see me, I didn't notice but I'm sure they've got stories of "the crazy fly fisherman up in that big hole up there."  I realized all I could do was float downstream until I could touch bottom but I'm laughing hysterically as I'm floating.  What else can you do?  It had to be a funny thing to see.  Honestly, the only part of me that wasn't wet was the very top of my hat.  The rest of my hat was wet from being underwater.

Easing out of the river looking like a haggard muskrat, I was grateful for the wading pants I was wearing because they were tightly cinched up around my waist and prevented me from taking on a serious amount of water.  The velcro adjustable waist worked equally as well as a belt would have.  That was fortunate.  To give you an idea of how foolish part of your brain can be, I actually considered going back out and fishing more.  That would have been nothing short of stupid!  Sure it was a beautiful mid-60's afternoon but when the sun started going behind the ridge in an hour or so, the temperature would drop significantly.  A clearer mind came to me from somewhere and I walked the mile or so to my truck.

Now, here's the point of this story.  I was unprepared.  During the winter months, I always keep a duffle bag of dry clothes, an extra jacket and even a towel for those really drenching moments as Saturday turned out to be.  But I hadn't switched to winter mode fishing this past weekend and I had nothing in my truck to change into or even dab a little river water off with.  Many of you have heard my diatribe about wearing a wading belt at all times so I wont' get into that topic again.  What I do want to encourage you to do is put together an emergency bundle of dry clothes (preferable something that will help you warm up like fleece) and keep it in your vehicle at all times.  You owe it to yourself and to your family.  I could have been in serious trouble if it had been cold and I was miles up the Chattooga River alone.  Hypothermia is a deadly thing and it doesn't have to be 32º and you soaking wet to kick in.  It could just as easily happen on a 55º day under the right conditions.

And if you think you won't fall in because you never have, think again, Kemosabi.  As the title of this post says, "It's not if, it's when!"  If you wade fish, you will fall in!  So be prepared.  Know your own capabilities, don't hesitate to use a wading staff, always use a wading belt and, above all, keep a set of dry clothes in your vehicle!  This is the voice of experience talking to you.  Listen to it!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Georgia's Delayed Harvest Streams Open Saturday November 1st

Fall Offers Great Georgia Trout Fishing Opportunities - Delayed Harvest Streams Open Nov. 1
Today's feature comes to us from the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division.
GAINESVILLE, Ga. -- Are trout streams calling you to go fish Georgia? Beautiful weather and fantastic scenery await you in the northern part of the state and beginning on November 1, fishing on five delayed harvest trout streams will open, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources' Wildlife Resources Division.

Trout streams are designated either seasonal or year-round. "Five year-round streams are managed under special regulations called Delayed Harvest," said John Lee Thomson, Wildlife Resources Division trout stocking coordinator. "The 'DH' streams have special catch-and-release regulations from November 1-May 14, and are stocked monthly by WRD and our partner, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This combination of stocking and catch/release allows for good trout catch rates and high angler satisfaction."

The five trout streams managed under delayed harvest regulations are:

  • Toccoa River located on U.S. Forest Service land upstream of Lake Blue Ridge in Fannin County (from 0.4 miles above Shallowford Bridge to 450 feet above the Sandy Bottom Canoe Access).
  • Amicalola Creek on the Dawson Forest Wildlife Management Area (from Steele Bridge Road downstream to Georgia Hwy. 53).
  • Smith Creek downstream of Unicoi Lake (Unicoi State Park).
  • Chattahoochee River in Atlanta (Sope Creek, downstream of Johnson Ferry Road, downstream to the Hwy 41 bridge).
  • A portion of the Chattooga River (from Ga. Hwy. 28 upstream to the mouth of Reed Creek) on U.S. Forest Service land bordering South Carolina.

"Remember, during delayed harvest, anglers on these five streams also are restricted to artificial lures with one single hook," Thomson adds. "When May 15rolls around, the general regulations to designated trout water apply."

In addition to the excellent fall fishing opportunities that these delayed harvest streams provide, other Georgia streams offer ample year-round trout fishing. These streams are:

  • Noontootla Creek Watershed: This watershed offers high-quality, year-round fishing for wild brown and rainbow trout, with many of its tributaries offering a chance at a wild brook trout (a real plus since most other brook trout waters are closed to fishing after Oct. 31). Both Noontootla and its tributaries are managed under an artificial lure only regulation and have a 16" minimum size limit in order to "recycle" the 8"-12" trout that make up most of the population.
  • Dukes Creek: This stream, located on the Smithgall Woods-Dukes Creek Conservation Area, offers year-round trout fishing by reservation (706-878-3087). All fish caught here must be released immediately and anglers can only use artificial lures with barbless hooks. The stream offers a great chance at a trout over 20 inches, so bring your camera for a quick shot before release. Best time to fish is after a rain muddies the water.
  • Chattahoochee River: For good trout fishing close to metro Atlanta, the Chattahoochee River downstream of Buford Dam offers family-friendly, year-round fishing for stocked rainbow and wild brown trout. The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area parks offer good bank, wading and boating opportunities. The river will be stocked through the fall months to keep angler catches high. Year-round harvest is legal from Buford Dam to Sope Creek. Anglers should note that there is an artificial lure only section between Ga. Hwy 20 and the Medlock Bridge Boat Ramp. Best fishing is at low flow when the river is clear to slightly stained.

  • Some additional notable year-round trout streams include the Toccoa River downstream of Lake Blue Ridge, Tallulah River and the Chattooga River.

Anglers must possess a current Georgia fishing license as well as a trout license to fish for these beauties. By purchasing a license as well as fishing equipment and related items, you and your fellow anglers have helped fund sport fish restoration programs for years, thanks to the Sport Fish Restoration Act. This Act allows funds accumulated from a federal excise tax on fishing equipment and related items to be directed to activities that benefit recreational anglers. A portion of these funds is provided to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources based on several factors, including the number of paid sporting licenses. Sport Fish funds make the following activities possible: managing sport fish populations, raising freshwater fish in hatcheries and stocking them in public waters, maintaining and operating public fishing areas and building boat ramps and fishing piers, and much more!

Where can you get a fishing license? Buy it online or find a list of retail license vendors at or buy it by phone at 1-800-366-2661.

For free Georgia trout stream maps, trout fishing tips and other trout fishing information, visit .

Monday, September 29, 2014

North Carolina DH Primer

By Landon Williams

If you have been living under a rock in the trout world or have never fished in any of our neighboring states, then you may not know that North Carolina’s Delayed Harvest season is opening on October 1st and it is a date to celebrate. North Carolina is home to many excellent Delayed Harvest streams and they are opening a full month ahead of our home state of Georgia’s DH streams. In many Georgians’ opinions, it is well worth the 50 bucks to get an annual out of state fishing and trout license for North Carolina, just to fish new and different water every now and then.

In the first couple of weeks of North Carolina’s DH season, you need to be mindful of the fact that all of North Carolina’s DH streams will not be stocked by opening day. In fact, many streams may not receive any fish the first week, so it best to check here to see when the scheduled date actually is before you invest the time and gas to drive north. 

If you can wait until a few days following the stocking, then the fishing is usually excellent and is especially rewarding for folks new to fly fishing. The fish are usually podded up in deeper pools and are aggressive towards junk food flies (Y2K, San Juan worm etc.) or small Wooly Bugger type flies striped or twitched through the current. North Carolina’s DH streams are well known for being stocked with many fish of excellent size, including some impressive brook trout.

If you are hard pressed and have to try your favorite DH stream before the official stocking date, keep in mind that many are operated under hatchery-supported designation and may receive stocking over the summer or have a population of wild trout as well. The Nantahala River and Fires creek come to mind and fit this description very well. While you may not wear the fish out as you could right after the stocking truck has passed, there are still many fish to be had if you adjust your tactics. Use smaller and more natural flies to match the local forage. It is also important to fish different water types such as boulder fields and pocket water where food and natural cover can be more abundant this time of year compared to the deeper, slower pools.  

I had a great trip this past Friday to the Nantahala DH and caught fish on everything from a big orange Stimulator that matched the October Caddis coming off at dark to smaller 14-16 soft hackle Hares Ear nymphs. I caught many nice wild rainbows and browns as well as a couple of bigger holdover fish who fought and acted like their wild brethren!

The “Second Season,” is now upon us and it is a great time to grab a new person and teach them the sport we all love. The fall colors will soon start popping and North Carolina’s DH streams are exceptional places to take it all in!

Hope to see you on the stream,


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Goldilocks Day - Everything Was Just Right

Landon Williams
I fished a favorite brook trout stream of mine Friday and it was just about as perfect a day one could have. The air temperature was excellent for a late July day and the water levels were great for the summertime after this latest stint of rainy weather. This particular stream is not too far from Unicoi Outfitters but doesn't get a ton of angling pressure, at least where I fish it. Further downstream it gets a some angling pressure and the fish are a little spooky. I walked a couple miles past where 95% of the other anglers stop before I even hopped in the stream.   After a series of large cascades the stream hosts exclusively brook trout, many of which are quite healthy in size but more on that in a bit.

I started out with my favorite summertime small stream combo, a big buggy dry fly (size 14 yellow stimulator) with a smaller buggy nymph below it (tungsten bead soft hackle hares ear) dropped off about 2-3 feet depending on the depth of the water. I normally stick with a shorter 7-8 foot fly rod for small stream fly fishing but I broke my change of pace and tried my 10 foot 4 wt. I shortened my leader down to just 6 ft  of straight 5x mono tied off of my fly line's perfection loop and "Dappled."

Dappling, or "dapping" as some call it, if you are unaware is a fancy term the old timers use for using a longer rod and just dropping your flies in likely holding spots and keeping the rod high and ready for the anticipation of a fast strike from a wily wild trout. The technique worked wonderfully everywhere I tried it, even in very tight cover so long as I didn't get crazy on the hookset.
So how was the fishing? It was epic by every definition. I caught a lot of brook trout. But more importantly, many of the fish were 7+ inches and quite a few were larger than 9 inches, which is a whopper on most brook trout streams. This stream has always had a slightly better than average population of larger fish but this was the best trip I've ever had here and this can only bode well for the overall health of our wild trout in North Georgia. I have to admit that I neglected them this spring pursuing larger warmwater fish but I'm starting to get a bit of the itch back for our salmonid friends!

Get out there and get up high if you haven't done it as of late. I'm glad I did! - Landon

Monday, July 7, 2014

Land & Water Conservation Fund Reauthorization

The LWCF is Up for Reauthorization - Please Read & Contact Your Congressman

Land & Water Conservation Fund: A Program We Can All Agree On
In today's political world, rare is the program over 75% of Americans can agree on. To have that support, it must be a Red White and Blue idea.

Well, one such idea exists. It's existed since 1965; the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Fifty years ago, back when people actually solved problems, the oil and gas industry, along with hunters and anglers, agreed on a program to mitigate the known impacts of offshore oil and gas exploration.

It was decided, and supported by all, that some of the offshore royalties would be earmarked to this new account, the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The purpose - Use those funds to restore habitat and enhance public access. Imagine that. A good idea supported by all sides, even Congress. There was a time in this country when good ideas were not the enemy of politics.

Roll forward fifty years. The LWCF has invested $13 billion dollars into public access for hunters and anglers, in the process, helping all outdoor recreation. Millions of acres of public access has been acquired or improved. Thousands of boat ramps, fishing piers, and fishing access sites have been funded.

Congress has managed to pilfer $17 billion dollars from the fund for other uses, but I guess we've come to expect that. Congress can make amends for past sins by reauthorizing this popular program in 2015. Hopefully placing the funds in a trust account, reducing the temptation of diversion.

A 2013 survey of Americans showed that LWCF enjoys a popularity quite the opposite of Congress. Over 85% of those asked want to see LWCF continue; marking 93% approval among Democrats and 78% among Republicans. The support in 2013 has grown from 81% support in the 2009 survey.

Congress could do something that almost all Americans support; reauthorize LWCF. I suspect the oil and gas industry prefers that a small fraction of their royalty payments stay earmarked for something beneficial, such as LWCF, versus tossed to the dark abyss of Congress.

Hunters are the greatest beneficiary of LWCF. Especially seeing the NSSF survey shows that losing "places to hunt" is the top reason people are hunting less. LWCF has provided more places to hunt than any program, ever. LWCF is the quiet program that provides matching funds to states, conservation groups, and local agencies to fund hunting and fishing access.
In my back yard of Bozeman Montana, the Gallatin National Forest has had over 200,000 acres of access acquired or improved by LWCF. All who hunt and fish can probably find a similar LWCF story in their back yard. Maybe your favorite spot.

In the coming year, Congress will face reauthorization for LWCF. Hunter, anglers, and the groups who represent us need to pressure Congress to reauthorize our most important access program, LWCF. In 1965, our legacy of hunting and fishing was handed a gift in the form of LWCF. Now is the time to make sure we can do the same for those who come after us.

--Randy Newberg

Randy Newberg is the host and producer of Federal Premium's Fresh Tracks with Randy Newberg, making him the voice of self-guided public land hunters in America; where he shows the common hunter uncommon experiences available on our western public lands. You can catch his show on Thursday nights, only on Sportsman Channel and you can get more details about his hunts on his

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Nymph Like You Mean It!

Just wanted to share this Cortland video with you.  While you may or may not be interested in competitive fly fishing, there are always some things we can learn.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Federal Trout Hatchery Funding Public Meeting

Anglers can't afford to let this issue fall off the radar.  The USFWS leaders are trying their best to de-fund the hatchery system for all species that aren't on the Endangered Species List.  Please take a few minutes to read it.  Then take a few minutes to take some action on it.  Thanks.

From The Chattanoogan

Agencies To Host Public Meeting On Federal Trout Hatchery Funding

Wednesday, May 14, 2014
The Tennessee Valley Authority, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and Georgia Department of Natural Resources will host a public meeting in Knoxville on Tuesday, May 27, to receive comments on long-term funding recommendations to continue popular trout stocking programs in certain TVA reservoirs and tailwaters across the region.
The agencies are seeking input from angling groups, local and regional businesses, tourism organizations and local governments that benefit from fishable trout waters in their communities.
The meeting will be from 6-7:30 p.m. at TVA headquarters, 400 W. Summit Hill Drive, Knoxville, Tn., in the East Tower meeting room. The public can participate in person or by webinar. Registration information for the webinar can be found at
The session will include a brief presentation summarizing the issue and the Trout Hatchery Funding Stakeholder Working Group’s recommendations. Attendees can ask questions and provide comments. The meeting will be recorded and posted to the agencies’ websites, where additional comments may be posted.
On May 17, 2013, Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and representatives from the agencies formalized an agreement to cooperate in seeking a permanent source of funding to continue trout hatchery production by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s National Fish Hatchery System for stocking in TVA tailwaters and reservoirs in Tennessee and Georgia.
As part of the agreement, TVA committed to provide more than $900,000 per year from 2014 through 2016 to support federal fish hatchery operations that produce trout for stocking. The agencies also agreed to form a working group with key stakeholders who benefit from recreation-based trout stocking to help identify a long-term funding source. The Trout Hatchery Funding Stakeholder Working Group conducted two meetings in 2013 and developed four recommended long-term funding alternatives for the agencies to consider.
Currently, non-native trout stocked near some of TVA’s dams come from three federal fish hatcheries operated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: Erwin National Fish Hatchery in Erwin, Tn.; Dale Hollow National Fish Hatchery in Celina, Tn.; and Chattahoochee Forest National Fish Hatchery in Suches, Ga.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stocks most of the trout it produces at TVA facilities, and provides eggs and fingerling trout to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency for further grow out and stocking at TVA facilities. TVA supports these stocking programs by enhancing the aquatic habitat through oxygenation systems, controlled hydroelectric generation and minimum water flows to help maintain cooler water temperatures. However, in most of the waters, the trout still cannot naturally reproduce, requiring regular stocking to maintain fishable populations.
The short-term funding agreement allows for continued trout stocking for recreational fishing in the colder water of the reservoirs or tailwaters at 12 TVA dams in Tennessee and Georgia: Apalachia Dam on the Hiwassee River; Blue Ridge Dam on the Toccoa River; Cherokee Dam on the Holston River; Ft. Patrick Henry Dam on the South Fork Holston River; Normandy Dam on the Duck River; Norris Dam on the Clinch River; Ocoee Dam No. 1  on the Ocoee River; South Holston Dam on the South Fork Holston River; Tellico Dam on the Little Tennessee River; Tims Ford Dam on the Elk River; Watauga Dam on the Watauga River, and Wilbur Dam on the Watauga River.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Little Middle Georgia River Action

Our resident young trout bum Landon Williams has headed to middle Georgia for summer break but he hasn't taken a break from fishing.  Here's his story of an epic battle with Ole Bucketmouth.

I fished a section of an Ocmulgee River tributary near home on Monday night. I hit the river from about 5:30-8 PM and was into fish the whole time. Fish were chasing bream on the shoreline and eating damselflies and dobsonflies as soon as they hit the water all evening. I stuck with a white Stealth Bomber, size 4, all evening and was into fish the entire time. I caught several largemouth bass up to 2 1/2 lbs on it and several hand sized bluegills and redbreast thrown in for good measure. 

I finally got up to the best looking stretch of water, a nice run with current that undercuts a huge bedrock ledge and has a big back eddy with a lot of foam over the top of it. I continued with the Stealth Bomber but didn't catch anything. 

Next I tried a couple of large streamers with nary a bump with various retrieval speeds. I finally settled on my favorite river bass fly, a Grey Dahlberg Diver.
On the first cast, I cast straight into the back eddy with the foam . I popped the Dahlberg as hard as I could twice and then just let it sit for a few seconds. The pause was met with the most violent topwater take I've ever personally seen and sent the foam flying everywhere. I could tell it was a big bass but didn't know just how big until after the first jump a couple minutes into the fight. It took all my nerve and a little bit of luck to counter the fish rubbing against sharp rocks and jumping about 4 times throughout the fight. I finally got the best of the fish and he came to hand like a tired puppy dog.
This is by far the best largemouth I've ever taken on a fly rod and the fact that it was from a section of river that is heavily fished made it that much more special. Wonder what I caught him with? It was on a 6wt with about 6 lb line for tippet! I decided to let the fish so I don't know for sure how much it weighed but I would venture to say in the neighborhood of 9 lbs or so. 

Hope you guys enjoyed the story as much as I enjoyed sharing it!


Monday, May 12, 2014

There's Still Time to Fish the Chattooga DH

by Jeff Durniak (aka Dredger)

Chattooga DH - 5/10/14

Go give the river one last shot this week.

Our trio yesterday only had one fifteen minute rain delay, while having a steady pick thru the afternoon. Water temp was 61.  One of us did well on a real small (18 or 20) Adams dead drifted behind a caddis, while another cast downstream and skittered a 16 tan caddis. Sometimes he even held it in the current along a sweet seam, and steadily twitched the subsurface offering until the rainbows couldn't stand it any longer.  We had 3-5 refusals and misses for every lip on the hook, but they were all fun.

We stayed for the hoped-for fireworks at dusk.  And they happened.

The switch turned on at 8 PM as size 18 cahills poured off. When they quit  popping at 8:45, the fish switch turned off .

Dry fly flingers oughta give it a go. Carry some tan elk hair caddis (16, 18) and parachute cahills in same size.  Add some small Adams and some cahill emergers and you're all set.  Focus on shady shallows and runs during the day, and then get in a favorite spot just before 8, with fresh 5x tippet and your flashlight pre-tested.

Good luck. Pass the word to interested folks. Enjoy your whippoorwill walk on the way back to the parking lot as you recall all those rises!

Ed. Note:  We often get questions about why the Chattooga DH can't be continued for more weeks during the spring and early summer.  Well, it is open for trout fishing year round but the quality of that fishery begins to decline in mid-May due to warm water temps as evidenced by these two bad boys that were taken on Saturday.  Hey, they rose to dry flies!  And the hornyhead is all decked out for love, rosy cheeks and all.


Friday, May 2, 2014

Stripers on Lanier - It's That Time!

by Henry Cowen

Fishing has finally turned the corner. The fish are committed to feeding shallow. Both stripers and spots are eating the lights out of both flies and lures on the red clay banks. You can watch some feeding activity on the surface both early and late in the day. The key to this pattern is to make sure you are fishing in 10′ of water or less. Red clay points and flats are holding the bait and the fish. Best lures right now are Sebiles and McSticks. Best flies are game changer, wiggle minnows and Clousers in the 4″-5″ length. While the top water bite has not officially started it is very obvious that the next pattern to emerge will be the long awaited Redfin bite. For fly rodders, try tossing pole dancers, Flat Fred’s, gurglers and any noise making top water fly. The expected weather for next week is high temps in the low to mid-eighties. This will push the surface temps to above 70 degrees and the fish will eat off the surface. Areas to fish are not as important as the structure you are fishing right now. North lake is fishing a little better than the south lake. That will change in a matter of days! It seems to have taken a long time for the fish to commit but they finally did. Get out on the pond as we probably have 4-6 weeks left before it all comes to a crashing halt as the fish go deep. If you are wanting to catch a world record spot on the fly…NOW is the time. Go out there and rip some lips! See you on the pond.


Friday, April 25, 2014

It Isn't Always About A Trout

by Landon Williams

Well the last couple of weeks have been interesting weather wise to say the least. We have seen everything from cold blustery days and gulley washing downpours all the way to downright warm and sunny this week! It seems that my local warmwater haunt has finally reawakened after a long cold winter and the "migrants" are finally starting to show up en mass. I've caught plenty of white bass and small stripers this week and finally their bigger cousins have started showing up over the last couple of days. I was broken off twice tonight by fish I never did see after a big tug of war trying to get them out of a logjam. River fishing for these guys is completely different and it is one of the most addicting things I've ever experienced. The big white bass and local spotted bass made the evening trip worth while. I'm still gonna be hurting until I land a big striper with shoulders.

I can't claim to be a striper fishing expert but here are few things I've learned over the last couple of years while trying to figure them out myself and by fishing with others. 

1. Fish the structure. Stripers can be caught anywhere from the middle of a fast shoal to slow deep bends with fallen timber for cover. Stripers are roamers and when they are hungry, constantly on the move.  Finding them is the hardest part of the game!

2. Keep a wide variety of flies in your arsenal. Well prepared river striper fisherman carry everything from deep diving baitfish patterns to floating popper or creasefly style bugs. I've still yet to catch a striper on the surface but there's a reason the local guys fish topwater jerkbaits in the middle of the shoals! Larger Clouser style flies are hard to beat though. 

3. Be patient. Don't expect to go and wear em out your first night out there. Pay your dues and, if possible, fish with more experienced folks if they are willing to take you under their wing.

The cool thing about striped bass is that they are readily accessible during their migratory spring runs, even for boat-less anglers. Many of our North Georgia reservoirs have them with spawning runs up the rivers and creeks feeding the lakes. Don't limit yourself to just spring time fishing either as many fish will stay up river all the way through the summer, perhaps due to the cooler more oxygenated water our rivers offer. 

I may still be heart broken from tonight but I'm hoping I'll finally win one of those tugs of war soon!


Thursday, April 24, 2014

How To Eat Healthy While Fishing

By Capt. Thaddeus Ragan in Fishing Tackle Retailer Magazine

Let’s face it, healthy eating hasn’t always been one of the focal points of fishing, but healthy eating is gaining popularity among anglers. It’s helping people catch more fish while feeling better on the water. It might also earn you some bonus points with the significant other back home.

But even if you have learned how to eat healthy at home, eating healthy while fishing—especially on the road—can be a challenge.

Many anglers start the day off with a giant, glazed honey bun. To be clear, giant, glazed honey buns are delicious and full of energy. There are stories of adventurers hiking the entire 2,200 mile Appalachian Trail fueled by the portable treat.

But as a fisherman you aren’t hiking the Appalachian Trail. You are doing a lot of standing in one spot, even if that spot is moving, for most of the day. You’re also focusing intently on water conditions, line feel and the positioning of your boat. It’s a situation that requires a great deal of mental energy over a long period of time, which is a bad moment for a sugar-crash.

It’s also a situation that benefits from you being as healthy as possible on the water cast after cast; and there are a lot of cheap, alternative food options that help your energy last much longer than a honey bun:

The best way to keep the unhealthy calories out of your diet when you travel is to prepare your food before you leave the house. This helps you stay away from restaurants—especially fast food restaurants—as much as possible. Not only will you eat less unhealthy food, you will save money.

Make variety of low fat Sandwiches like turkey and cheese on whole wheat bread, and don’t forget the lettuce and tomatoes (you may have to store the wet ingredients in separate ziplock bags to keep the bread from getting wet).

If you don’t want to deal with making the sandwiches, low sugar trail mix or nuts are a great portable option as well,

Bring lots of fruit and raw vegetables. Most fruit and vegetables are easy to eat in-between casts if you don’t want to put the rod down. I try to bring plenty of pears, apples, oranges, bananas, celery, baby carrots, cauliflower and broccoli on long trips. Yes, I know Bananas are supposed to bring bad luck while fishing, but I’ve proved that to be bull time and time again. Now, I actually bring them for good luck.

Sardines are also great. They stay fresh, and all you have to do is crack open the can and eat them with crackers. As a bonus, after you eat them your hands smell like fish…so you may catch more fish! I’ve even been known to dip my baits in the left over sardine juice as a fish attractant.

Speaking of smelly foods, boiled eggs are a good choice. I’ll boil a few and pre-peel them so I don’t have to deal with that later.

For breakfast—when waking up in whatever random hotel I’m staying in—if there is no microwave I’ll heat up water in the coffee maker to make instant oatmeal or grits. Make sure you stay away from the oatmeal with a lot of sugar and go for the reduced sugar variety.

Once you start the day off with so much sugar you will crave it all day long.

Also, you want to drink plenty of water and liquids throughout the day. Remember the more sugary your drinks are the less of the water your body will absorb from them! The last thing you want to be is dehydrated, tired, and getting cramps from dehydration, which can lead to more serious issues like heat stroke.


Capt. Thadeus RaganCapt. Thadeus RaganGuest Blogger  Capt. Thadeus Ragan is model and fishing guide who has worked with Bass Pro Shops, Mercedes-Benz and Under Armour. Ragan is a life-long angler and owner of, a guide service dedicated to Lake Okeechobee and the Florida Everglades. He also catches many of the lunkers you see featured in the Bass Pro Shops annual catalogues.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Great Day on the Nantahala DH

by Landon Williams

Saturday I headed back up to the Nantahala Delayed Harvest with a fishing friend of mine. We were on the stream by 10:30 and were greeted by bugs all over the place. There were a few of the big Quill Gordon mayflies floating around and many of the streamside rocks were crawling with small dun caddis and winter stoneflies. We were both into fish almost immediately and it stayed that way throughout the course of the day. I stuck on the grey caddis pupa with a tungsten bead that worked a couple weeks ago and it produced a few
fish for the short time I kept it on. The caddis dry bite was not nearly as consistent as it was in my last Nantahala report and was nonexistent by noon. I switched over to a
size 12 parachute Adams and immediately started hooking more fish. After a while I noticed smaller and lighter colored mayflies that flew right alongside their bigger cousins. I clipped off my tungsten bead nymph dropper and stuck on a parachute size 14 March Brown parachute (dark elk hair tail, tan hares ear dubbing, Tan mallard flank parachute post, grizzly hackle) and kept the it on for the rest of the afternoon! Both flies consistently produced fish all afternoon with one edging out the other at times depending on if an area had more of one type of mayfly versus the other. My buddy came behind me and did very well with his euro nymphing setup throughout the day. He outfished me numbers wise by a bit but as many as we were both catching, I was happy to catch a few less for the thrill of a rise! He mostly used tungsten bead hares ears variations on very light tippet. 

I do have to say though that 
the highlight was the big fish of the day that I landed, a 21-22" brown trout that I sight fished for. The fish came out from underneath a deep ledge in a run with some current and chased a rainbow that I had hooked on a dry fly. The rainbow managed to escape unharmed but gave me the opportunity of finding a big fish's lair as an unintended consequence!  I stuck on a tungsten bead mohair leech and drifted it past the nose  of the large brown. I immediately set the hook on the first cast after seeing the fish move over a few inches and  open his mouth! The brown even jumped a couple times during the fight, proving to be quite the acrobat. 

Saturday was about as good as it gets; a bunch of fish on dries and even a big one as a kicker!  Hopefully, some of you will be inspired to get outside after this week's rain event and find some dry fly action yourselves!


Friday, March 7, 2014

Fiberglass Manifesto Giving Away 2 Copies of "50 Best Tailwater"

The folks over at Fiberglass Manifesto (one of the coolest blogs in the flyfishing world) are giving away two copies of "50 Best Tailwaters to Fly Fish".  Plus, they've got a really good review of the book so take a look at it here.

If you're on Face Book, "50 Best Tailwaters to Fly Fish" is featuring the Toccoa tailwater and Jake Darling today.