Saturday, June 29, 2013

A Gorgeous Day for a Swim!

Mornin' Folks, 
      It's a beautiful Wednesday morning here in the suburbs!  First, I'd like to apologize for being so slow with the blog posts.  Things have been rather busy around here the last two weeks, I had difficulty finding time to fish and even more difficulty finding time to write about it! To be fair, I told myself when I started this that I wanted to do a post every two weeks, so I'm not too far off.
      It seems that here in Georgia we're getting back on the afternoon storm cycle for the summer.  The weather has been pretty unseasonable for the most part lately, but this week we're supposed to hit some 90 degree days.  So, fishing after work has been out of the question.  I was able to fish for a few hours this past Saturday evening over at Lake Lanier and the Saturday before I met a friend in Dahlonega to fish the Chestatee river.  The original plan for the Chestatee was to rent kayaks from a local rental place and spend the day paddling and fishing.  I've never been in a kayak before, so I made sure to take zip top bags and waterproof things as best I could.  Unfortunately my friend was running a bit late and by the time we got to the rental place they had rented all the kayaks they had for the day.  After a brief discussion we opted for a canoe instead, which suited me fine.  When I was young my parents owned and operated a campground in South Carolina for a few years and I learned to paddle a canoe on the lake.  This would be my first time with a canoe in moving water, but I felt pretty confident in my ability.  "My friend" (who shall remain nameless), on the other hand, had never been in a canoe before, and I'm not convinced had ever paddled a boat before at all!  All of about five minutes into the trip we hit a rock sticking out of the water. "My friend" was unable to maintain balance and the canoe rolled.  I'm sure, much to the amusement of the gentleman sitting on his back porch watching the river.  Luckily, we were only in about two feet of water, so righting, draining and getting back into the canoe wasn't too difficult, however, our lunches were ruined and "my friend's" phone took a bath.  Since, at this early point, we were wet, we decided to stay where the boat turned over and wade fish the opposite bank for a while.  With absolutely no luck, we got back in the canoe and continued our trip.
     For the next half hour or so we just spent time paddling, trying to give "my friend" a feel for the canoe and for me to try to gently coach better technique and how to shift position and keep balance without tipping....again.  {"There you go, gently." "Try only putting the tip of the paddle in the water" "When you have to move, lean forward or back, not side to side." "Good job avoiding the rocks, but watch out for the submerged tree!"}   When we finally had the hang of what we were doing, we started to fish.  At first we would stop the canoe, beach it, and wade to fish.  Assuming that would be safer than trying to cast from the moving boat.  The issue with that was the number of other people in canoes and kayaks.  It was a beautiful day for paddling such a gorgeous stretch of water.  I was fishing my 6' TFO 3 weight with a wooly bugger in the riffles and around tree branches.  Every time I would get into the groove another group of kayaks and canoes would come down stream.  There were a few polite "Anything bitin'?" questions and a few inquiries about my fly rod, but the best was an older lady who loudly exclaimed "I'VE ONLY SEEN THAT DONE IN THE MOVIES!!!".  It gave "my friend" and I a pretty good chuckle and I'm pretty sure I saw the lady's husband shaking his head in embarrassment.
First fish of the day.  About an 8" bass.  He put up  a good fight!
  As we continued our way downstream the water began to get deeper, so I switched to my ultralight spinning gear to make it easier to fish out of the canoe. We were able to wedge the bow of the boat into the crook of a fallen tree so we could sit in one spot and fish a bit.  That resulted in the first fish of the day, a good looking little bass that put up a great fight for my ultralight. 
  Right after catching fish number one, I got my lure hung in a branch of the tree we were using as an anchor.  While trying to free my lure from the clutches of the old dead tree, I managed to get the hook in my finger.  Luckily, I always fish barbless for just such an occasion!  For the next hour or so we slowly drifted along in the current, fishing as we went, and trying to stay close enough to the bank to cast our lures to.  I decided to tie on a new lure to see if I would have any better luck.  Well, luck wasn't on my side at that point.  I was concentrating on tying on a small Worden's Rooster Tail, and not paying much attention to the tracking of the canoe.  When I did finally look up, we were heading straight for a fallen tree, this one still with leaves, and it was too late to try to correct.  I was able to slow the boat enough to turn the boat side ways and drift into the branches.  I grabbed a handful of leaves to help stop us from plowing straight in to the trunk.  I passed my fistful of branches back to "my friend" so as to go back to paddling to get us out of the tree.  By the time I put my paddle in the water, I was in the water with it.  I'm not really sure what happened, it took less time than the blink of an eye.  "My friend" says that there was a submerged log that we hit and that caused the boat to roll enough to take on water.  I never saw a submerged log and I'll leave it at that.  The water was a bit deep here, I could tip-toe to keep my head up, so a bit of swimming was necessary to get the fully swamped boat to a low bank.  We were able to save all of our gear, except for my fishing towel and one life jacket.  At least the PFD was just a rental.  A nice family canoeing by picked it up and offered to return it for us.  They were still dry.
  We set off once again.  We came to an area of the river that was absolutely stunning.  To the right side there was a sandbar where a few kayaks had stopped for lunch under the shade of some trees.  To our left side was a shear rock face that was probably 30 or 40 feet high.  We were able to sidle up to that rock face and found a place to wedge the boat to fish a while.  The water seemed quite deep in this area, but I couldn't make a guess at how deep.  I do know that the rock face continued down in the water as far as I could see.  This looked like a great spot to catch some fish and I was hoping that there were a couple of submerged ledges for the fish to take cover in.  I wasn't too far off the mark, this is where I caught fish number two.  He's no record setter, but again, these little bass put up a good fight for an ultralight rod. 

Fish number two.  I swear it's two different fish!
  We stayed next to this wall for a little while longer.  At this point we had been on the water for about four hours, we were both soaking wet and getting a little tired.  Plus, "my friend" had an engagement to get to later that afternoon.  I got one more good hit on the wall, but this fish threw the hook as I got it to the boat.  Seemed to be about the same size as the other two.  We decided to start doing a little less fishing and a little more paddling to make it to the take out point.  We had no other mishaps, we even successfully navigated some small rapids.  
  It made for a great day, even with the spills.  The Chestatee is a gorgeous river, and I've been told its even better further north.  I really look forward to fishing it again.  I'll even fish it again with "my friend", but never again in the same canoe!  
  If you're ever in the Dahlonega, GA area and want to try the trip that we took, check out Appalachian Outfitters.  That's where we rented the canoe from.  They seemed like a good bunch of guys, they knew the river well, and they put the canoe in and take it out of the river for you.  So no portage! 
  I've decided that from here on out, I need to put in each blog what I've learned from each fishing trip.  I've always thought that if you're doing something without learning, then what was the point?  On this trip I learned to be more discerning about who to get in a canoe with!  Just kidding.  We had a blast and will, probably, do it again sometime.  Maybe.  It'll be a while.
            Tight lines and happy fishing!

Today's Equipment:

Rod: Shakespear Ugly Stik SPL1100 4'8" ultralight rod
Reel: Shimano Sahara 750FB - a hand-me-down from my grandfather 
Line: Berkely Trilene XL Smooth Casting 6lb clear
Flyrod: Temple Forks Outfitters 6'6" 2wt
Fly Reel: White River Fly Shop 3/4
Line: Rio 3wt WF
Johnson Beetle Bou Marabou Jig 1/32oz ; white & chartreuse
Joe's Flies Short Striker Glo Trout #231 in size 8
Worden's Rooster Tail 1/24oz assorted finishes
    #14 Parachute Adams
    #18 Inch Worm

Kershaw Ken Onion Scallion

Pipe & Tobacco:


  1. Canoes aren't much fun for me either. I can't sit still when I'm told to sit still! Floating along, fishing with a mysterious good friend and fighting to reel in even an 8" fish sounds like a really fun day!

  2. Sounds like a day full of fun and laughter, even though "your friend" did turn the canoe over. But glad no one was hurt besides your finger.