Monday, May 3, 2010

Back To The Basics at Nacoochee Bend - Saturday, May 1st

A May Day report from Mark Whitney:

As I sit here writing this fishing report, there's a slight ache in my right arm and shoulder that I wouldn't trade for a thing in the world. It's a reminder of a great day of fishing with a couple good friends that included some of the best fish I may ever take out of a north Georgia river. The key to success on this overcast, cool day that included just a few showers was sticking to the basics: lead is my friend, drag free drift and local knowledge is priceless.

I ran into Rex Gudgel in the parking lot and badgered him about teaching me to use the rod my wife bought me as a Christmas present. The rod has more inherent ability than I do and is the reason I was going to get to spend a half day fishing "the Bend". As I followed Rex into the fly shop, I asked him if he was fishing the river today what flies he would not go to the river without. When he pointed out a soft hackle pheasant tail (PT) and grizzled brown rubberlegs I bought them immediately.

At the first stop, I was fishing a deep run to the head of a pool and my fishing buddy Ken was fishing from the head of the pool down. I started out with the soft hackle pheasant tail (#14), about twelve feet of leader and 3 #1 Dinsmores. Shortly, I put on a fourth weight but after hanging up a little too often, I went back to 3 and kept plowing furrows in the run.

It wasn't long before I hooked up with my first fish of the day.  He laid claim to that pheasant tail and was determined not to return it to its rightful owner.  Now, I fish Dukes Creek pretty often and I have hooked into a few good fish……but HOLY MOLY!!!  That fish took me downstream and gave me an education that made me ashamed I had actually paid for one at UGA.  It's the first time I've been taken to my backing and I gotta tell you, I'm hooked.  Needless to say, that fish knew a whole lot more than I did about the river and he ran right past Ken, across the river and swam around a submerged rock until he broke me off.  Fish 1 – Mark 0!

As we worked our way upstream, Jimmy came down to see how we were doing and stayed for a while to visit as I fished.  Being the natural instructor that he is, and wanting everyone to enjoy flyfishing as much as he does, couldn't resist giving me some help.  Of course, I took all the help I could get.  I've only been at this flyfishing thing for 3 years and when you have an opportunity to tap into some local knowledge, you jump at the chance!

My new guide and I headed back downstream to try dredging some already covered territory.  He asked what I had in my box and when I opened it, he immediately picked out the rubberlegs Rex had suggested earlier in the morning and told me to tie it on.  I got some welcomed advice on what seams to fish, when to mend my line and before I knew it, I had caught several more fish out of the hole I had fished just 30 minutes before and taken only 2 fish from.  So, now I'm really getting an education and loving every minute of it!

For thrills at the end of our trip, we head up to the big pool below the dam to see how we would fare against those giants.  I had many classic battles with some good fish testing the flexibility of my Winston rod: some I won, others I lost.  Jimmy said one that I battled for a while before he broke me off was about a 10 lb. fish.  I wouldn't argue, I saw him and he was a hog!  I fought so many fish I could no longer hold my rod with one hand and began giving my right arm some relief by two-handing for a while.

Honestly, I lost count of how many fish I caught and I can't give you a good estimate on how big the biggest fish I caught actually was.  I have photos.  I have witnesses, at least to most of the fish I caught.  One of my fish was an 8 inch wild rainbow so there's some reproduction going on and, with limited access to that stretch of river, maybe sustainable trophy fishing for a while.  Most of the fish we caught would make any north Georgia angler's day if he caught only one.  We had a day to remember for a lifetime as we loaded up on big fish most of the morning.  And the lessons learned?  Lead is my friend, drag free drift and the importance of local knowledge.  Hope to see you on the water some time.

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