Sunday, November 14, 2010

Grand Finale?

The view from Bowman Island

So I don't know weather this will be my last trip to the dam before we move, but either way it might go down as one of the most fun and successful fishing trips I have had in Georgia.  I fish a not so secret area in Georgia on the Chattahoochee river.  Burford Dam is the dam that holds Lake Lanier back, but what draws me to Buford Dam is the river.  The water from the dam rarely comes out higher then 50 degrees fahrenheit which makes this a year round trout spot less then an hour from down town Atlanta.  There are a couple down falls to this spot, the first is the fact that it is not a secret everyone knows about this spot.  Another big down fall is the fact that it's a hydroelectric dam and they release water from it, so there are times when you just plan can't be on the river.  The plus side is there is a lot of cold water year round, which helps spread the fishermen and the fish out.  Another plus is that along with lots of stock fish this section has trout that are wild(released and possibly reproducing in the wild) trout.  Lastly there are some big brown trout here. An 18lb 6oz  state recored brown trout was pulled from the river here and that is nothing to sneeze at.

looking at the front side of the island

The trip if it was my last was a great way to leave.  I think I brought to hand something like 25 to 30 trout.  I only left for the river after 11, and most of the time you get a late start you need to fish till dark to catch fish.  This didn't hold true on Saturday for a couple simple reasons.  First there was an early morning water release from 6 a.m. till 9 a.m. so till i got there the levels where just about back to normal. Also the water was not crystal clear like normal, it had a blue green tint.  The tint was a welcome sight to me because the skies were so clear so it was a little cover for me.  I strive in overcast, cloudy water, rain, and I have even caught fish in a snow storm one year when my brother and I went out one winter.

There are a lot of holes to fish and the options are never ending when it comes to what kind of water you want to fish.  I had two spots in mind when I pulled into the parking lot and as I walked up on the first I noticed an older man just down stream from where I wanted to be.  I stood back a on the bank and watched to see which way he was moving and figured upstream because he kept checking up on me as I stood there.  With about four trucks in the parking lot I figured one of my other spots will be open, so with that one spoken for I moved on.  The second spot I had in mind was on the other side of an island, but I didn't want to back track up stream to get to my normal cross point.  In an effort to be respectful to the guy I moved down stream and crossed below him.  Then climbed up on to Bowmans island.  The island's banks are tall walls of dirt and they are kept that way by the releases but I found a very distinct game trail going up one bank and followed it.
center of the photo that light stick is a buck rub about 70 yards out

Once I was on the island I just had to cross and find a way down the other side. When was up there I saw a couple buck rubs and a big scrape.  I remembered I was fishing and my mind went back to the task at hand, finding a was down the other side.  I found another trail and amazingly enough when I got to water level I was directly across from my favorite spot on the back side of the island.  With an idea of how I wanted to fish the hole and went about setting up a dropper.  I tied a big Adams fly on and dropped a  Prince nymph off it. On the very first drift a trout shot up from the deep and went after the Adams and I was in such shock I missed the hooks set.  I was not expecting to have a fish go after the dry fly because of the water color and the fact that there was no fly hatch going on.  My Adams was the only dry on the water.  After a couple unsuccessful drifts I thought that maybe it was time to switch up the flies, and after about twenty minutes and three or four flies I was still batting zero.  I retreated to a close rock and thought out loud talking through water conditions, air temps, weather forecast and what I would be looking for if I was a trout.  I kept the Adams but dropped a Zebra Midge off the back of it and that was the ticket.

The sheer dirt wall of bowman island and the first of many holes to fish

I then had two and a half hours of fish on.  The fishing was almost easy once I got the nymph right, and it was a blast.  Sadly I did not pull out a record fish but what I did was a personal first. I landed a fish on three consecutive casts.  Also when the hole was kinda slowing down I had a trout come from the bottom and hit the dry fly again, but this time I set the hook and landed a pretty brown trout.  It is fall and not only do the leaves show off the brilliant colors but the trout too.  Every single trout I caught was amazing and I felt myself taking a little longer to look each one over.  As I was head to the crossing spot I fished holes that looked like they could hold trout.

Thinking about how trout sounded good and these trout all looked healthy and strong I felt like I would take one for a change.  So when I hooked up with one on the last hole of the day I kept it and thought about how and when I would eat it.  I grew up keeping every fish, but for the last ten to fifteen years now I have been a catch and release guy.  When I want to take and eat a trout now, it is something that I think more about.  Growing up it was about keeping the limit but now its a conscience decision that I will be taking this trout to eat.  

Some great color on all the fish but the browns had the best

second fish to try the Adams

just a little guy

I found a new angle

an example of fish colors in fall

Well once I was home I went to work prepping the fish.  I haven't filleted a fish in a long time, but after messing up one side and leaving a little meat on the bone it came back to me and the other side was just right.  I left the skin on because it helps keep the meat moist and together, plus we ate it skin on growing up unless it was a huge fish.  This morning I woke up and cooked my catch with lemon juice, butter, salt and pepper.  I had it with dippy  eggs and toast.  I love having fish with breakfast but I do not do it enough.  Actually since Sarah does not like fish we do not have a lot of fish, but I want to start eating more.

top fillet is the one that I didn't mess up

breakfast of champions 


So I was thinking if this was my last trip to the dam I can call it a great experience, but if I get up there again I hope I can match this trip.  Thanks for following along.


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