Loran Smith: Fall Fishing

loranFall fishing is here, and I can’t wait–except that I have to.

A busy schedule is keeping me from joining my friend, Jimmy Harris of Unicoi Outfitters, at Helen, where the Chattahoochee, which originates not far away,  runs through the Alpine themed village and ends up in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Chattahoochee is a romantic river, which makes it way from a spring on Coon Den Ridge near Jacks Knob north of Helen and Robertstown, and then begins a jaunty trek south, making a lot of friends along the way.   It flows merrily along for 430 miles.

The Chattahoochee says hello to some famous landmarks along the way: Lake Lanier, Northside Atlanta, Ft. Benning, the Apalachicola basin and takes a break only when it flows into the Gulf of Mexico

I have enjoyed its company, in many of those places–from Helen to Lake Lanier to Columbus to the Apalachicola.    Trout in the mountains and Oysters from the Apalachicola.   You have the best when you enjoy these two Chattahoochee affiliated delights.

The recreational benefits from this river are as limitless from swimming to kayaking, but the greatest connection anybody could have with the Chattahoochee is fly fishing.   If you are native Georgian and you have never fished “The Hooch,” you have missed something.   To stand in the Chattahoochee at the Nora Mills Granary, just south of Helen and watch the trout cavort within arms-length–so close if you prefer, you could reach out catch them with your net, leaves one with freedom and hospitality.  However, it is more fun to see if you can outwit the rainbow with your fly-rod.

When you cast upstream and the rippling waters bring your fly dancing by, you are in hopes of one of the most pleasurable experiences in life.  You want that line to become taut.  You want a five pound rainbow to suck down your fly and fight back with all the energy he can muster.  You give him line, you let him find his way downstream.  You let him tire himself out.  You match wits with him, tiring him out by reeling him slowly to the net where he succumbs and gives up the fight.   You have mastered the chase.  You have prevailed.  Life on the Chattahoochee is a good thing.   Those who spend time on the river are richly rewarded.   Clean and pure, fresh and vibrant.  The Chattahoochee in North Georgia sits in the center of the best nature has to offer.   There are hills and mountains, rocks and trees.  Mountain laurel and stately pines.  The blooms of spring and the turning of the leaves in the fall.

When you are in the Chattahoochee’s environment, you are moved to recite Sydney Lanier’s  “Song of the Chattahoochee.”   It would be nice to remember all of the poet’s uplifting stanzas but the best I can do are the first four lines.

“Out of the hills of Habersham,

            “Down the valleys of Hall,

            “I hurry amain to reach the plain,

            Run the rapid and leap the fall.”

            Never have taken the time to inquire into the background of the honorable  Georgia poet, but I would like to know if he were a fisherman.   Unfortunately, he didn’t have a lot of time to pursue any avocations.   He was only 39 years old when he died of consumption which resulted from incarceration in a Union prison after being captured during the Civil War.

One of the reasons I have always been fascinated by fly fishing the Chattahoochee is that the river’s link to history, its rare beauty and stimulating environment give you a generous feeling after you have spent time standing in the river, casting for your supper.

Now is the time of year when you can plan a trip to the Chattahoochee, catch a rainbow and then retire to a simmering fire and a glass of Bordeaux.  Why is fall so fleeting?






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