This was our sixth year in a row coming up to the North Georgia mountains. What started as a camping and fishing trip between our dad and his two boys had turned into a recurring cabin trip with the entire family, which had grown to 14 strong.
These are about the closest mountains from our home in Florida, even then it’s a nine-hour drive. We don’t have trout streams by us either, the hot weather doesn’t create ideal situations for the trout. So we look forward to our annual migration north, for the time outdoors, the time with family, and for the change of scenery.
Every year we go fly fishing on the local streams and rivers, and we’re never terribly successful. So this year we lined up a day of trophy trout fishing and quail hunting with a local outfitter. It happened to be the coldest day of the year so far—a brisk 15° F. The quail don’t move too much when it’s that cold, so we pushed our start time to a little later in the morning, arriving at the tiny log cabin at 9:30am.
We huddled around the old wood burning stove for a bit, then headed out to the field. Watching the dog work the land is pretty incredible, and this day was no different. We ended up only finding five or six birds, and got three in the bag. We then broke for lunch and switched gears for an afternoon of trout fishing.
The water was as clear as gin, which meant that the monster trout we could see from the banks could see us, as well as every fly we floated in front of their faces. We fished for hours without a single bite. Then, as the sun started to go down, we came upon a section where the water was a bit faster, the clarity a little less.
We ended up landing two giant rainbows within about 30 minutes. When you pull in a fish like that (one that’s been carefully managed to live so long and get so huge) you realize what catch and release is all about. There’s a certain respect for a fish that size, and it’s easy to put it back in the water.
The rest of the week was filled with the usual cabin activities: cooking big dinners, taking walks through the woods, games, drinks, and family. The week seems to go by so incredibly quick, and before we know it we’re packing up to come back home.
When you stop and look, it’s funny how things become traditions without even realizing it. Our original trip was cancelled due to a health scare with dad, and we weren’t sure if we would make it up at all. Thankfully, it all worked out in the end, and our tradition continued: the drive up together, the trip to the apple store (real apples, not electronics), the family dinners, and even a talent show from the kids. Traditions are important, especially for families. You may have your own, or you may be starting new ones. Whatever the case, make time for them.
- Mark Nielsen