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Fishing on the Chattahoochee

The poems of Sidney Lanier resonate with this Georgia cracker who finds the greatest pleasure in revisiting, often in the shower, the inspiring and fulfilling ruminations of Georgia’s one-time poet laureate whose lively poems involving two of the state’s most celebrated natural habitats link your emotions to inspiration and humility:  The Marshes of Glynn and the Song of the Chattahoochee.

If you are a Georgian and you have not wrestled with a spot tail bass on Georgia’s golden coast, if you have not hooked a three-pound rainbow while standing in the rushing waters of the Chattahoochee, you have denied yourself two of the simplest of pleasures — both of which are within reach of most residents of our state. 

While the marsh experience is something to revere, it could only be exceeded by an excursion to the Chattahoochee, in that the North Georgia mountains remain virtually pristine, forever enhancing the outdoor experience.  You are refreshed in summer even though the trout have run away to hide, but the shoal bass take their place in the interim. Then comes fall and you are mesmerized when you fish the Chattahoochee when the leaves are turning, the deer are peeking at you while standing in rhododendron up to their hindquarters and the harmless black bear is getting ready for his winter’s nap.

While you can enjoy this experience, by and large, any time of the year, no month offers more serenity and enrichment than October. Move onto the river when there is a reverberating chill in the air, and feel the fresh waters of the Chattahoochee slapping against your waders as you are surrounded by fall color and the musings of Sydney Lanier.  There are three species of trout in Georgia — rainbow, brown and brook, the last being the only native trout. Browns and rainbows were introduced to Georgia streams in the 1880s and have been stocked for over a century.

One Chattahoochee outing begets another and another. You go home and your mind’s eye won’t let go. You see yourself standing in the river while casting a wooly bugger upstream. The barely visible fly comes meandering by and suddenly there is tension.  Your line goes taut and exhilaration segues into satisfaction as a classic rainbow takes line off your reel with startling alacrity.  Soon the trout tires and starts coming your way as you reel in the slack. After fatigue subdues his will to resist, you thrill to his homecoming — to your net, his gills expanding and contracting.  He’s winded and so are you, but what a trophy to hold and behold. Nothing like letting him off the hook, setting him free again in the Chattahoochee and live to make someone else’s day.