Saturday, July 24, 2010

fly fishing trout (dane county, wi)

Why does it seem my luck has taken a turn for the worse? This was the second time that I’ve experienced an automobile breakdown on the side of the road in the last 2 months. The first left my car crippled in a small Illinois side-of-the-highway town over 120 miles from home. Two different tows and two repair bills and the car is still having problems. I currently still have a friend doing some work on the vehicle as we speak to stop an oil leak. Both shops never fixed what was actually wrong with that car (a loose hose above an O2 sensor) and my friend saw the problem with in 10 minutes of looking at my engine. A couple turns from a screw driver and the car hasn’t died since. A good mechanic is worth their weight in gold.

This time I shredded a tire on my wife’s truck while traveling the 90 expressway heading north to the driftless area. It was 5:30 in the morning when I had the left rear tire blow while driving. I forced my way onto the shoulder where cars were flying past me with out even moving over. I was forced to keep one eye looking over my shoulder at all times. Finally the Wisconsin State Police showed up to give me a hand with an industrial jack and some traffic control. We get the new tire mounted and time to hit the road… Guess what happens now? I go to turn the car on and the battery is dead. 40 minutes later the tow truck shows to jump my truck and 79$ later I am back on the road again!! Even though my brain said to turn for home after the blow out I pushed forward.

My 2 hour and 20 minute ride turned into almost 5 hours. On the way I stopped of to do a little recon of a small stream just to south. Rumors of big dumb trout carried me there. In the middle of the summer the overgrowth looked almost unmanageable. The creek was skinny and cold and looked like it had some major potential. I will have to remember this for next year in the spring…

a beautiful driftless creek
Finally I made my destination. All this hard work and I had only 2 hours to catch something. The water was up 2 or 3 feet still from the heavy does of rain we received earlier this week. It was also stained a nasty rust color. I already made the decision to fish the closest park to the headwaters to find the best water quality. I fished a pool in-between a bridge and a set of riffles. I did see some fish rising to the opposite bank and it kept my interest for an hour and a half without any strikes. I moved upstream and spent the last 30 minutes fishing a serious bend that dumped in to a slow pool. A series of cast to the pool turns nothing up. I moved closer to the tail-out of the bend and one long cast resulted in a long overdue strike.

fishing stained water
This is my second trip where catching even one fish came down to the last 15 minutes. I kept my head on straight and fished hard and it worked in my favor. Maybe I didn’t slay them but catching one fish on a day I could have caught none is a victory to me.
rainbow trout success!!!
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Thursday, July 15, 2010

fly fishing trout (blue ridge, ga)

This was the last day of our vacation. I still had one goal in mind and that was to catch photo and release a Georgia trout. With only a couple hours to fish I made the choice to fish the Toccoa River again since I had caught one fish and hooked three more there the last time. I wasn’t able to grab a photo of that slippery 9 inch bow, that one jumped right out of my hands the second I unhooked him. Note To Self- photo all fish before unhooking them, especially when your doing so from in the water.

check out my previous post here from- 07-11-2010

The sun was just rising as I pulled into the gravel lot sitting under Blue Ridge Lake. The fog was just as thick as it was when I was here the last time. I’m not sure if there’s always fog on the Toccoa or not? I will say its welcome any time I’m ever there. Even when the sun is up and the day begins to really heat up, your glad when the breeze pushes a gust of 70 degree fog over you. The cold air smells clean, feels moist and your instantly cooled.

sunrise on the toccoa river
I chose to work the same deep slack water pool where I had seen trout rising before. After a couple fish broke the water on the surface I felt a little bit more confident in my decision to return here. That feeling quickly disappeared after I had used up 75% of my fishing time, gone through a half dozen flies, and tried working the pool from 10 different angles. Then it happened, it’s the worst feeling a weekend warrior could ever have. The phone rang, I looked at the screen and it’s the wife calling wondering when I’m gonna be back. We settled on 90 minutes from then, which gave me 30 more minutes to catch a fish and 60 to get back to the lake house. Game on…

I changed my presentation one last time, I tied on an elk hair dry fly with a size 22 copper john dropper. Eight drifts from that it happened, and my dry fly got pulled under the surface. I set the hook and the fight was on. I hand lined in my second Georgia trout, this one was a small brown. Quick photo on the bank and my mission was accomplished with just minutes to spare.

a georgia brown trout
I’m happy to say I explored many truly awesome areas in the Chattahoochee National Forest, and I would recommend to anyone to give these trout a shot if your ever in the area. Even though these seem to be smaller then the average fish I find in Wisconsin, the scenery here more then makes up for it. I’m sure if I had just a little more time here I would have been able to really catch some fish, but that’s not the case. Time to pack.
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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

dock fishing (dawsonville, ga)

The vacation continues… When I wasn’t out chasing trout in the mountains we were able to do a lot of fun things as a family. We still found some time to do some fishing right off the dock in the back of the house. We caught some carp, catfish, bluegill, crappie, and bass. Of the few times we fished from the dock, the most fun was when me, my wife, and her sister fished late at night. I actually didn’t fish at all that night, I was content to rebait my wife’s and sister’s fishing poles with tiny chunks of canadian night crawlers. It was enjoyable to watch her catch a couple fish and have a good time just talking with her sister. She did hook a giant catfish on the kids fishing pole that was strung with 4 pound test that quickly wrapped her up in the brush in front of the dock. I knew she was hung up when the fish stopped pulling and the line was still so tight that the rod was doubled over. I made the mistake of trying to hand line the fish free from the snag when the line snapped. I don’t think that she will ever let me live down the monster fish I lost for her. Heres just a couple photos...

luke with a catfish

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

fly fishing trout (blue ridge, ga)

Second day of my vacation started as early as early could start. I had taken a nap the night before to sleep off the drive from the previous day as well as the fishing from that morning. I woke up at midnight from my nap at and caught the remaining people who were still up cocktailing. I ate my dinner that was in the fridge and hung out and had a couple drinks with my wife, her brother, and his girlfriend. By the time I turned on the computer and did some research on some local fishing spots it was 2:30am. Why the heck wouldn’t I just stay up and go fishing? Killed an hour and by 3:30am I was packed and on the road to Blue Ridge, Ga.

The destination was the Toccoa River. This river has trout above and below Blue Ridge Lake, today I was fishing the tailraces below the dam. Got there early enough to have a solitary breakfast at the Waffle King, gear up in their parking lot, and still had some time before the sun came up. I was on the water before the sun hit horizon and the fog had a chance to melt away. A call to local water management department informed me there would be 0 generators at the dam running till 2:00pm and 1 generator from 2:00pm and later. This is something you need to pay special attention to because there is no sirens to warn you of the on coming surge of water. The reports aren’t gospel either so they recommend you pick a marker in the water to see if the water levels are rising. Growing up fishing the White River while visiting family in Arkansas I remember vividly that those sirens ended my fishing trips with my uncle.
foggy morning on the toccoa river
Started fishing the park closest to the dam. The water was at least 15 degrees colder then the Chattahoochee and actually had to take breaks to warm my legs up even though the temperature made it well into the 90’s. Wasted lots of time that morning fishing the shallow runs and riffles. 3 hours and no strikes, didn’t see one other person catch a fish in that time either. Made my way down river and found some trout rising in the deep slack water. Actually, I had one fish strike my indicator so made the decision to switch to a dry fly with a nymph dropper. From that point forward I went 0/3 on strikes only to look at my fly and notice a completely bent point… crap. Switched my fly out and the next strike I landed my first Georgia trout only to have it jump from my hands as I reached for my camera… double crap. Oh well, at least I saw it. It was my trophy 10 inch hatchery rainbow, I hope it isn’t my last .
an angler fishing in the fog
On the way back I made the mistake of taking hwy 60 back and quickly found that it a 30mph drive through the heart of the mountains in the national forest. Lots of groups of motorcycles, porches, and corvettes racing around every corner. Scenic but unbelievably slow, don’t attempt this drive without wanting sharp curves going downhill.
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Saturday, July 10, 2010

fly fishing trout (helen, ga)

This was the first day of our family vacation in Atlanta, Ga. We made the 12 hour drive from Chicago through the night, the day before. This was for the benefit of both my kids and my wife and I. By the time the kids woke up we were already in Nashville. We were staying at a beautiful lake house located in Dawsonville on the shores of the giant Lake Lanier. The next morning, I woke up early in the morning and decided to venture out to explore the streams and rives in the Chattahoochee national forest.

My first destination was the Chattahoochee River, which is the river that feeds Lake Lanier. There are 2 different sides of the river, one above the lake that starts as a mountain stream that flows in to the lake, and one below the lake that is a tailrace fishery. I chose to start my expedition above the lake in the small mountain tourist town of Helen, Ga. This is a quaint Bavarian influenced city where the famed river flows through the heart of its downtown.

the chattahoochee river in helen
The scenery was magical but the fishing stunk. Furthermore, the best stretch of this river was private. Not that you couldn’t fish it, but if you wanted to you would have to pay a hefty sum of money for a “guided” trip through a local outfitter. This “protected” stretch of river is located just below the Nora Mill and contains some trophy trout by anyone’s standards. The problem is, these are fish that are raised on a steady diet of trout chow that you can purchase from the vending machines located on the walkway above the water. You can look down from the walkway and see hundreds of trout sitting in the pool below the spillway waiting for the next “hatch” of trout chow. In my opinion this is equal to fishing a kiddies’ pool stuffed to the brim with giant trout.
nora mill
The water I did fish looked like it held promise but no strikes. Then 10:00am rolled around and the recreation tube traffic started and hordes of people on inner tubes started to float their way down the river. Time to get out of here, so I did what any good father would do….. I went back to the house and grabbed the family and came back and rented some tubes. Yes, I joined the ranks of many others that have “tubed the hooch.”
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