We ducked under blowdowns, pushed our way through rhododendron thickets and crossed a trout stream four times, but finally, after 50 minutes of walking, wiggler tops popped and cricket cages opened. As lines begin to wet and move down swift cur- rents into knee-deep pools, three teenage boys — and their fathers — reminded me what Saturday mornings are all about.
Kids are out of school. Are you making fishing plans with them this summer? There are several fathers from Clarkesville who are making pretty good role models for parents who like to fish. They are adamant about getting their boys in the outdoors.
These three boys like to trout fish, but they don’t like to wait in line or stand shoulder-to-shoulder to do it. They’d rather go on an adventure hike, an exploration of sorts, to load their creels with trout. The area we were fishing was well over a mile from our truck, and the only trout fishermen we saw was later in the day, after we took photos and were nearing the truck.
Unless I want to get tarred-and-featured, I can’t tell you just where we were fishing; however, our adventure trip can be duplicated all through the north Georgia mountains on WMAs and national-forest land. More on that in a bit.
Stephen Thomas, 16, has been trout fishing with his dad, Gary, since he was just a young boy. On a chilly May 6 morning, Stephen’s spinning rod was the first to load up with a beautiful rainbow. The 10-inch fish hammered a cricket fished on a short-shank No. 8 hook below a pair of BB-shot weights.
Stephen hooked the fish in a 10-foot long stretch of dark water right up next to a steep rock wall. When the fish bit, Stephen was standing on the bank throwing upstream, letting his cricket flow with the current next to the rock.
Stephen’ s cousin, Cody Thomas, 15, opted to fish with worms and a push-button reel, and he quickly had a 10-inch rainbow in his creel. His dad, Danny, sat behind him offering advice on his next cast.
“Throw way up to the white water, and let it drift down,” said Danny.
Dennis Green was fishing with his son, Adam, 13, from Lawrenceville. Adam used several baits, but he finally decided an artificial bait made by Casey’s Tackle Co. that looked like a dragonfly, the black body and white wings, is what the trout wanted that morning.
I watched Adam catch two nice trout from used waters, after Stephen and Cody had presented the fish with crickets and worms.
“Looks like they want the dragonfly… we’ve figured something out here,” Dennis said.
Father and son smiled as they watched Cody and Stephen race upstream trying to be the first to reach unfished water.
The trout stream we were on had two feeder creeks coming in, both stocked about a half-mile upstream. There was another stocking location, about one mile above us.
These guys told me that since there’s a long stretch with no stocking where natural trout reproduction goes on.
I watched Cody catch a four-inch rainbow that had stunning colors, and several other times the boys hooked small native trout. Those were quickly released back into the stream.
The three boys also fished with corn, No. 1 Mepps spinners in gold or silver, Rooster Tails and spring lizards, which can be found in abundance under rocks along the stream’s edge. No matter what they threw, 6-lb. test line worked fine for long casts, and it was strong enough to pull a trout through rushing water.
As we continued to fish north, away from the two stocked feeder creeks, the fishing got tough. However, the scenery grew more impressive and the boys just didn’t want to turn around. We found bear scat, deer and raccoon tracks and even some good-sized buck rubs. Danny and I wondered if a wallowed out place on the stream bank was made by hogs. There were several small waterfalls, gorgeous white water leading to dark pools, stony banks and an awesome mountain-stream smell. It was primitive and awesome.
I asked all three boys about their experience, and all three voiced a similar opinion about how much fun it was to hike way, way back in the woods and go trout fishing. I bet you know a teenager that would enjoy a trout-fishing adventure. Trout season for seasonal streams ends October 31, so you’ve got plenty of time to make summer plans.
Some good research is where your adventure should start. Look at WRD’s website, www.gofishgeorgia.com. There, you’ll find stocking information, along with seasonal and year-round streams and areas that have special artificial-only regulations. Between the Chattahoochee National Forest and Georgia’ s mountain WMAs, there are miles and miles of remote trout waters that receive little pressure and have trout being washed downstream from stocking locations.
There are several trout-fishing books on the market that can be helpful. The guys in camp had a copy of Jimmy Jacob’ s “Trout Fishing in North Georgia.” Thumbing through it, I saw that there were quite a few other remote, public streams just like the one we fished. Finally, use the internet to research your adventure.
This low-tech trout trip is as easy as it gets, but bring enough equipment to last a day. Get a spinning or push- button reel you’re comfortable with and a creel to carry your fish. Bring plenty of extra hooks, sinkers, fishing line, clippers, food, water and your preferred bait.
You may want to consider a trout vest. Stephen’s dad, Gary, wore one, and he never quit talking about all the pockets it had.
Waders are only an option, but if you don’t want to fool with an extra layer of clothes on your legs, bluejeans or shorts work fine, as long as you don’t mind wet feet.
When you take a trout excursion way off the road, be very careful. Being miles from the truck is rewarding, but anytime you deal with steep terrain, slippery rocks and fast-moving water, there’s an added element of danger.
The three boys caught 17 rainbow trout, with the biggest being about 12 inches long. I told them it was pretty amazing how much fun I had, considering I never even wet a line. I’m really hooked on watching kids hunt and fish. Try it — it’s actually more thrilling than catching a fish yourself. It’s hard to see yourself smile, but it sure is fun to watch a youngster grin.
Kudos to three dads from Clarkesville who put their personal love for trout fishing behind them to make sure their sons were catching fish and having a good time. They’re role models for what parents who care about fishing should be doing with their kids. They’ve done their jobs.
I’d bet the bank that these three boys will grow up and still be trout fishing… probably after a long adventure hike through the woods, back to a remote trout stream.