On the Fly

If you love to fish and you run near the coast, here’s a chance to try something special. Get out into that salt water with fly fishing tackle and go after some big fighting fish.

You can get into this sport pretty much anywhere there’s ocean. You can go after big ones, such as marlin, try for tarpon or go for something a little smaller with plenty of fight, like bonefish. You might choose to go for redfish on the Texas coast, permit or snook in the Florida Keys, striped bass anywhere from California to Massachusetts, bluefish or bonito off the Carolinas, surf perch at the edges of Oregon or salmon in Washington state.

These fish, like all the other game fish you try to haul out of salt water with a fly, demand that you use tackle and techniques developed especially for them. To use flies in saltwater you’re going to have to be not only properly prepared but also able to “read the water.” You also need to know the unique fighting qualities and habits of the game fish you’re after. Otherwise your fly tackle might not be enough to land what you’ve hooked.

If you are not already a fly fisherman, it’s not something a day at the beach will teach you. If you are not familiar with an area and just happen to be trucking through, the right guide is the single biggest requirement. Search for one on the Internet, or contact a reputable local sports store to find one.

Ocean fishing requires the flycaster, new or old, to learn specific techniques for wade fishing and fishing from the decks of a flat boat. You’re likely to find winds, swells, chop, surf, tides, barometric pressure and currents challenging you if you’ve been used to lakes or rivers.

Spotting a fish, stalking a fish and getting into the right place at the right time will also not be what you’ve been used to when you went fishing in Montana. The flies, and the way you tie them or select them, also require local knowledge. Local guides will even show you a couple of saltwater knots that might surprise you and show you that the way to present a saltwater fly to your fish is not the same as the way you’ll drop the fly in front of a brook trout in the mountains.

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Fly-tying is an art, delicate and demanding, but it can easily be done after a little instruction.

Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area

Truckers driving through the South will inevitably spend a lot of time in Atlanta. But once there, Georgia’s remote outdoors awaits you right beside the I-285 bypass.

The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area is actually a series of small parks on a 48-mile segment of the Chattahoochee River, created by former president Jimmy Carter, a native Georgian.

Take your fishing rod because the river is stocked with trout. It’s also home to 23 species of game fish. All you need is your equipment and a state fishing license and trout stamp to be able to fish year round. There are also American Indian and 19th century historical sites and 50 miles of hiking trails in the 4,200-acre park. Beginning weekends in May you can rent canoes and rafts. And there are enough picnic areas for you to make a great day, or half-day, out of it.

You might see wood duck, muskrat, mink, beaver, river otter, wild turkeys, red and gray foxes and good old white-tailed deer. There are great blue herons in the park all year, vultures in the fall, and in winter there will also be Canada geese, mallard, black duck and pintail.
Your tractor shouldn’t be a problem, but you should call ahead at (770) 399-8070 to get specific information on the park.

How to get there: From I-285, take Exit 27, GA 400 North. Go five miles to Exit 6, Northridge Road, turn right and cross over State Highway 400, and then turn right into Dunwoody Place. Go half a mile and turn right onto Roberts Drive. Go 7/10ths of a mile and turn right onto Island Ford Parkway, the park’s headquarters.