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Tradition | Trout Camp Essay Contest | Natalie

Each fall, TU Camp and Academy graduates are invited to enter the TU Teen Essay Contest in which they share their camp experiences. This year we had four finalists, and Natalie’s essay is the first in this series as the third runner-up. Natalie is from Georgia and is pictured above on one of her favorite trout streams. Please read on for Natalie’s heartfelt essay.

My Trout Camp Experience

by Natalie Reid

My Camp: Georgia Trout Camp

My TU Chapter: Blue Ridge 696 GA

My favorite stream is the Chattahoochee below the lake Lanier dam.

My favorite thing about being outside and fishing is that I can let go everything and enjoy myself seeing beautiful things in nature, whether it’s an amazing rainbow trout or massive trees that are untouched by people and buildings.

Georgia Trout camp changed me into a passionate person about conservation of cold water fisheries and how much they need our help to survive. During our amazing camp we were taught everything possible about trout and fly fishing, in five days, by the most knowledgeable people. We learned fascinating things about entomology and the life cycle of trout, where the fish are, and different knots and casting techniques, but best of all, we learned how to CATCH BIG FISH!!!

The first things we were introduced to were the roll cast and the standard cast. Then we were educated on when to use certain casts. Where there was a lot of trees and brush, we used the roll cast, or if we were in an open river, where we could back cast with no problem, we used the standard overhead cast. By far, my favorite cast was the standard cast because I could show off my technique better!!
Also, I learned the hatches of bugs that trout feed on such as the mayfly and caddis fly. It is amazing that these aquatic insects transform into many different forms in their short lifetime. Some lifecycles are only 12 months, such as the mayfly.
One of my favorites was the knots and tying flies! We learned the triple surgeons knot, the blood knot, and also, the improved clinch knot. I used each knot throughout the week and became very familiar with each one as I changed flies and tippet. I truly enjoyed tying flies in the afternoons and before bed; it was very therapeutic for me. To use something you had just learned to tie on a vice and then catch fish with, was an exhilarating experience.
I was thrilled to visit the trout hatchery while at camp and I was staggered by how much the people at the trout hatchery worked to keep the trout alive and healthy. Additionally, we all got to stock the wonderful Tallulah River with some stunning rainbow trout, then fish the Tallulah till dark!! I caught a rainbow and a brookie that night and had an absolute blast fishing!!
Another fun thing we did was build trout habitats using trees and rebar with our muddy hands! It made me feel good that we were helping a stream, that had native brook trout in it, that will grow and flourish, because in our modern world, all native streams are going away because our society just wants to build and make money!!
We also got to visit the most amazing rivers and streams that would take your breath away. At one river 6 and 10 pound trout would just sit at your feet saying to you: “can’t catch me I’m tooooo smart….” It drove me delirious. I just wanted to present the fly right in front of their mouth’s so they could scarf it up! At one point, I thought of just getting my net out and using it to pick one up since they were an arm length away! Well, at least while we were at the river, I caught a brim and had fun…. better than no fish!
My most favorite thing of all was to wake up early in the morning, when the fog was rising off of the towering mountains, and look at the scenery. I have never been in such a stunning place. I wish I could live where the mountains were untouched. I wouldn’t trade anything for my experience at trout camp because I truly enjoyed being in the outdoors, hiking, fishing and doing conservation!
Best of all, at trout camp, they made you feel like you were at home and the mentors told amazing fish stories where they had caught the Loch Ness Monster, or sometimes, a monster trout! I loved being with people who loved and cared for what I do and wanted to protect those things for other generations to enjoy. I certainly learned so much in just five days than I have learned from school for 7 years! The mentors were also so devoted to helping us learn and grow on our fly fishing knowledge! They took me under their wing and taught me everything they knew, and each mentor sincerely made me into a better person.
I am very appreciative that I had the privilege to go have fun with people like me! I hope more people like me enjoy trout camp and don’t forget it, because no other camp can top this one! I wanted to cry when I had to leave because I felt like I was with family. I just wanted to stay there in the mountains and live like I was in heaven every day, instead of just 5 short days. It went by too fast!
With Best of Memories,
Natalie

Do you know a young person that may be interested in going to a TU camp? There are 25 across the country! Visit www.tu.org/camps to find one near you. Also, a great starter rod/reel combo from Temple Fork Outfitters is now available in TU’s Online Store. It’s a special edition Bug Launcher! Click here to check it out.