A north Georgia brown trout.
By Chris Hunt
I've never really been a part of "opening day" when it comes to trout fishing--where I grew up in Colorado, trout season never really closed, even if Mother Nature usually took matters into her own hands and essentially locked up the backcountry in snow sometime around the end of November. Where I live now in Idaho, most trout water is open all year long, even if getting to some of it is impractical during months that have an "R" in them.
But on the last weekend in March, I got to soak in the experience--just a bit--in the mountains of northern Georgia. There, in the little town of Dillard a couple of hours north of Atlanta, I got to experience the rush of opening day on Georgia's trout water, albeit from afar. I didn't get to fish on opening day--I got to attend TU's Southeast Regional Meeting instead.
And it worked out just fine--opening day was tragically chilly and wet. I suspect that more than one disappointed trout angler returned home from the water with nary a trout for the skillet. As for me, I got the chance to rub elbows with the movers and shakers in the TU world south of the Mason-Dixon. Together, we enjoyed meetings ranging from how TU is working in the southern Appalachians to reconnect brook trout habitat to how to build a better, more effective chapter.
This meeting--and five others like it around the country this spring and summer--is put on every year by the state councils in the region and TU's volunteer operations department. These are some of my favorite meetings--not only do they give volunteers in these regions access to some quality educational workshops, they give national staffers like me the chance to get to know our grassroots members who work so hard to give back to the resources they adore.
So, while the TU team took in the meetings and enjoyed the camaradarie of the event, other anglers from all over Georgia were chasing trout in the rain and cold.
A beautiful little backcountry trout stream in the heart of the north Georgia mountains.
But Sunday--with the meeting behind me--I got to chase trout. I poked my way into some of the prettiest little trout streams I've ever laid eyes on, and for a creek freak like me, the experience alone was heavenly. Frankly, I was suprised at the quality of the trout water I found in the mountains of north Georgia--I had no idea what to expect, but I didn't expect to find lively browns and rainbows chasing streamers in just about every deep pool I cast into under sunny (albeit a bit chilly) skies. I didn't expect to be able to get away from the crowds and find solitude along little backcountry trickles.
And I didn't expect to find so much water. A small-stream junkie could spend a year fishing in north Georgia and still have water left to see. I realize that I'm spoiled to get to live in eastern Idaho, with the South Fork and the Henry's Fork so close--but the folks in northern Georgia don't have it so bad, either.
So, to my new friends in north Georgia, I hope I haven't spilled the beans too much. I'm grateful for the work you all do on behalf of your home waters--you have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to the quality and quantity of the waters you call your own. Thanks for the great Southern hospitality--you can bet that I'll be back to enjoy it once more.
Chris Hunt is TU's director of national communications.