Thursday, December 25, 2014

Friday, December 19, 2014

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Slab of Butter

Photo by: Ben Moore
Don't forget the slab of butter at your Thanksgiving dinner table.  

Angler, Ken Hardwick, with a nice butter brown caught on his Walters Fly Rods set up while on a trip with Ben Moore, Head Guide of East Anglers.

We are thankful for everyone's continued support and business. 

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family from Walters Fly Rods. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

October!

By: Matt Wilson
The month in general brings a party-style buffet of awesomeness to sportsmen from coast to coast. College and Pro football is in full swing, MLB World Series, archery season opens in several states, rednecks loving on NASCAR, fat kids loving on Halloween, and anglers loving the start of the Brown trout spawn.

Hormones start to rage in these spawning fish due to shortened days and decreasing water temperatures. The key ingredient during the spawning season is light. Egg development in female brown trout is stimulated by the shortened daylight hours of the fall season. According to the Wild Trout Trust, a typical female Brown trout will produce 900 eggs per pound of her body weight. From the same source, mortality rates among first year trout is typically greater than 95%. With these astronomical odds, keep a wary eye as to not wade into any redds (trout spawning areas) during your next fishing trip on your local river.

In many cases, spawning browns can be seen individually or paired in very shallow, riffled water. This is prime time to capitalize on the opportunity to catch these vulnerable browns while they’re in a very aggressive and agitated state. Presentation trumps specific fly patterns. The same brown that would only take a tiny sulphur emerger back in the summer is likely to accept larger, more suggestive offerings during the fall spawning season.  Wade slowly and take the time to scout out the riffles, runs and pools you typically cannonball into and speed fish. Be patient and persistent- it will pay off.




The wild brown in this video ate a weighted squirmy worm last week below Buford Dam on the Chattahoochee tail water.

Good things,

Matt Wilson

Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday, September 26, 2014

She's A Keeper


How do you know that your wife really understands what you enjoy?  She gets you a grooms cake like this one at your wedding.  Yep, that's a cake.  



Wednesday, September 17, 2014

"It's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope"

"I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope."  Dr. Seuss

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Walters Fly Rods in Action - Gary Long On The White River, Arkansas

Gary Long checking in again from the White River in Arkansas with this excellent Brown Trout caught using his Walters Fly Rods setup.  Thanks Gary for the excellent photo!

We love seeing our products in action.  Submit your photos using your Walters Fly Rods products to info@waltersflyrods.com

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Monday, July 7, 2014

What A Skunk Teaches Us

By: Matt Walters

Yep, I admit it, I got skunked while fishing for a couple hours the other day on the water.  This is an occurrence that has not happened in a while.  My saving grace was that I hooked a fish, but was not able to bring it to net, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. 

My immediate thought was what in the heck am I doing wrong?  Second thought was, what will I tell my buddy upstream and thirdly what great explanation/excuse can I use to make myself look better. 

Let's face it, we've all had bad days on the water, some worse than others, but when it comes down to it, how bad can a day on the water be?  Sure, you have a streak of good fishing days, weeks, or even years going and suddenly the bottom literally drops out from underneath you.  Whether it is Mother Nature's fault or there was too much fishing pressure or possibly the fish just weren't biting, you name it as there are a ton of great excuses out there, but the fact remains.

In that moment as I made my last cast that day I accepted defeat and went on my way.  Yes, it's frustrating and yes it makes you question your tactics and skills, but it isn't all that bad.  

I told my Dad later that same day that I hadn't caught a fish in a rather depressive tone and he said sincerely with a smile on his face, "well it's better than a swift kick to the ass."  I laughed for a little bit and realized, he's right.  Here you are on a beautiful stretch of water with excellent scenery doing what you love and something as small as not catching a fish can ruin it for you.  

This got me to thinking, is it only about the fish or is about the experience while out there?  I had to back up and think about my Dad's comments.  I think we as anglers get caught up in numbers and catching (for good reason, it's fun) that we forget to stop and smell the roses along the journey and actually realize our surroundings, the landscape, the birds, and other species we encounter while fishing.  I'm not saying that catching fish does not bring the ultimate joy, but we should allow ourselves moments during the day to just sit on the bank and breathe it all in.

The next day I headed out again with a refreshed attitude of enjoying the entire experience and ended up landing a few decent fish (nothing spectacular), but "it was better than a swift kick to the ass."


Friday, June 20, 2014

Pack The Rods, Reels, And Cooler. It's Time For the Weekend!

Photo by: Ken Hardwick
Matt Wilson enjoys a cold one in his Walters Fly Rods Koozie back at the truck along the Davidson River, NC.  


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Mr. Goldeneye



I recently took a trip to the beach near Charleston, SC and pulled out the kayak to hit the creek on a low tide.  I unfortunately spooked a lot of fish that I couldn't see while paddling until it was too late and they were under the boat.  I docked the kayak and headed to a wading spot where I was able to capitalize using a copper flash clouser pattern.  The tide was high, the grass was flooded, and the fish were biting.  The saltwater demo is performing perfectly.      

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The 10 Cent Leader Caddy Using Pipe Insulation

by Matt Walters

10 Cent Leader Caddy Using Pipe Insulation
I saw this great idea on the internet the other day while looking for solutions to the tangled mess of used and new leaders in my pack.  This isn't rocket science and some of you may already be using this idea for your leaders.  This cheap solution to my messy pack works incredibly well for the cost.  The 6 foot section of pipe insulation allows you to make many of these leader caddies and stay prepared on the water with multiple pre-rigged leaders ready for your use.  Go out and give it a try.     

Steps to make your own Leader Caddy:
  1. Purchase a 6 foot section of 1.25 inch thick pipe insulation with the connecting adhesive already installed.  I purchased mine from a hardware store for only $1.50, so the 4 inch section in the picture costs roughly 10 cents. 
  2. Using an X-ACTO knife cut a section of pipe insulation roughly 4 inches in length from the entire piece.  You can make the leader caddy as big or as small as you require for your pack. 
  3. Using the X-ACTO knife again, Cut slits into the outside diameter of the pipe insulation where the leaders can drop down below the surface so they stay in place.  Be sure to cut shallow and not all the way through to the center of the pipe insulation otherwise the leaders will slide through.
  4. Next, if your pipe insulation comes with adhesive, remove the protective layers and seal the two sides of the pipe insulation together. Otherwise you will need to apply an epoxy to seal and connect the seam of the pipe insulation.

        

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Selecting A Fly Rod For Trout

By Matt Walters
Ken Hardwick lifting a Trout to the water's surface with the Walters Fly Rods 9' 5WT.  Photo by David Cannon


I have a lot of friends that are getting into fly fishing for trout for the first time.  I can remember getting started and how confusing the whole process is in the beginning.  There are a ton of new terms and concepts to learn.  You want to make sure you have the right gear, learn good casting and fishing tactics, and obviously catch some fish.  I figured I would write my thoughts and suggestions down to see if I could assist someone else out there including my friends with their new endeavor.

So we'll start off with the fly rod.  Some of the below information is extremely obvious to those who have been fly fishing for a while.  On the other hand, I hope some of the newer members to this sport will pick up some new knowledge.  My ultimate goal with this post is to help the beginner become educated on their first fly rod purchase for trout fishing.

WT:
For trout fishing you can choose from a variety of different fly rods with different weights and lengths.  The most typical trout rod out there with the most versatile applications is the standard 9' 5WT 4 Piece.  This is why I chose this rod as my first rod offering for my company as it fits the mold for pretty much anything related to freshwater trout. The weight (WT) of a fly rod is not the weight in ounces it is actually determined by the diameter of the fly rod and the ability to handle particular weight loads (ie fish and flies).  The higher the "WT" number the bigger fish it can catch and the larger flies it can cast with ease.  The choices in the weight of the fly rod can vary for trout fishing from around a 3WT for small streams, smaller fish, and delicately placing small flies to the other extreme, a 7WT for throwing huge streamers and targeting big heavy fish.  The 5WT fits snugly in the center of these two rod weights and can handle both of these situations very well.  

LENGTH:
The length of the fly rod will also help you in many ways while fly fishing for trout.  A longer fly rod (9'-10') will give you more reach and allow you to high stick and put the flies further out away from your body with little to no casting required.  The longer fly rod will also make mending the line and roll casting (a necessity on many streams) much easier.  A shorter fly rod (7'-8.5') will allow you to cast more freely in tighter quarters as the rod will not interfere with overhanging branches or bushes.  Shorter fly rods also offer more accuracy at short to medium distances.  You will get more casting distance out of a longer fly rod with less effort than a shorter fly rod, but distance doesn't always equal success in trout fishing. My choice has always been with a 9' or 8.5' rod although shorter rods are very fun especially in smaller weight sizes.  

ACTION:
The action of a fly rod is a lot about personal preference.  I personally like a fast action rod, but I suggest trying various actions out.  There are a few different actions available out there.  Slower action fly rods have a subtle and progressive taper from rod tip to the cork grip by design and will give you more "touch" when fishing small streams.  The action of this progressive taper will slowly and delicately lay flies on the water as the action of the rod bends deeper towards the cork handle of the rod. The slow action fly rod, due to its less stiff characteristics, will give much more cushion when actually hooking and playing a fish especially when using finer tippets and lines.  On the other hand, fast action rods will give more distance and spring as the rod bends on a steeper taper that is located much closer to the rod tip.  Faster action fly rods are much more suitable for windy conditions, double hauling, and single hauling.  Both actions are equally important in different scenarios.  Just to clarify, a fast action fly rod can be used to cast slowly  and to achieve a delicate presentation, it just takes slightly more precision on the angler's part.  The middle ground here is a mid action fly rod which has a taper design built to bend more towards the center of the rod offering a compromise to both of the other actions described above.  

REEL SEAT & CORK HANDLE:
The reel seat and cork handle are important as well as they can effect the balance of the fly rod.  The cork handle should feel comfortable in your hand and provide you with a firm grip that allows you complete control over the fly rod.  The cork grip should feel like a seamless connection point between your arm and the fly rod.  I would suggest purchasing a AAA grade cork handles as it will be smoother to the touch and will endure the test of time much better.  The trout fishing reel seat can come in a few different styles in anodized aluminum with wood inserts and various ways to secure the reel to the fly rod.  My favorite is a burl wood insert and an up locking reel securing system.   

GUIDES:
The guides on a fly rod are important as well.  Typically a fly rod will have a total number of guides equal to the length of the fly rod in feet.  This can vary as some 9' fly rods have a total of 10 guides.  The major things you want to ensure regarding fly rod guides is that the epoxy was applied correctly and that the entire guide foot and all wraps that hold it in place are covered.  The guides should also be in a straight line along the entire rod and in the correct relation to the spine of the rod if you want to get technical.  Guides are made of either titanium or steel while the majority are of the latter material.  The first guide(s) past the cork handle are referred to as stripping guides and should feature a ceramic coating on the inside where the line runs through which creates a slick friction-less area for your line to travel through.    

OVERALL FEEL:
Overall the most important thing to consider when purchasing your first fly rod is the actual feel of the rod.  Does it feel heavy?  Will I be able to cast and carry this all day comfortably?  Does the fly rod feel secure and balanced when holding it and casting it (not too heavy on one end or the other)?  The above details will hopefully help you narrow down your search, but the reality is unless it feels good it doesn't matter what the specs are.  I once heard that fly rods and fly rod building are like cooking food.  You can make the best recipe on paper, but unless it tastes good it isn't worth a darn.  One last factor to consider is to pick a fly rod that is aesthetically pleasing to you.  You will be spending a lot of time with your new equipment and possibly passing it on to someone else in the future.  Make the choice that feels right to you.  

We will go into more fly fishing topics for the beginner on later posts so please stayed tuned and let us know if you have any suggestions.  There is a lot of information above and there are some significant differences especially in the action, length and WT of a fly rod.  

If anyone has any questions regarding a fly rod or fly rod purchase please do not hesitate to ask me via a comment below or email your questions to info@waltersflyrods.com.  I will gladly help out.  In addition, if you feel I have left anything out that you consider important feel free to add via the comments section below.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Walters Fly Rods' Hats, Koozies, and Decals

We now have hats, koozies, and decals available for purchase on the website.  Check them out now at www.waltersflyrods.com

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Fishing Report - Spring on the Chattooga River

by: Matt Walters


Spring on the Chattooga River

Spring time has arrived and the fishing has been great.  The days are much longer and the temperatures are on the rise.  All of the trees are in bloom, the colors are vibrant, and the smell of spring is in the air.  As Ron Burgundy in Anchorman would say, "Drink it in, it always goes down smooth.".  

We recently took a trip to one of the most picturesque rivers in North Georgia, the Chattooga River, to do a full day of fishing.  The water was running clear and cold due to a lot of rain the prior days and colder mornings. The bug life was incredible.  Every submersed rock that I picked up and inspected the underside of had caddis, mayflies, and stone flies darting for cover on the slippery surface.  The trout menu was endless.  It was a beautiful sight to see with so many different varieties of insects.  

The most productive flies early on in the day were a size #14-16 pheasant tail or hares ear.  We caught a few with a streamer in some of the deeper stretches using a pine colored slump buster as well.  Towards the end of the day when the light was fading on the water, we started catching brown trout on emergers.  

Some of the fish were breaking the surface of the water while the majority were feeding in the surface film so we focused our attention on the emergers by casting size #16 soft hackles with success.  Overall, it was a great day catching the Chattooga Trifecta (Brooks, Browns, and Rainbows).

Where have you been fishing recently?  We'd love to hear your Spring time fishing stories in the comments section below.

             

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Walters Fly Rods In Action - Gary Long Rainbow Trout



Excellent rainbow caught by Gary Long in Virginia over this past winter using his Walters Fly Rods 9' 5WT Chattahoochee Rod and BT12 5/6 WT Reel. 

Thanks, Gary, for sending your photo to us, we love seeing our rods and reels in action. If you have a photo you would like to share with us please send it to info@waltersflyrods.com. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Core of Fly Fishing

by Matt Walters
Photo by David Cannon (click here for more photos by David)

What lies at the core of fly fishing?  To me it takes a look into history to the roots of human beings.  Humans were mobile nomadic creatures in the past.  We traveled great distances in the pursuit of food, shelter, and water.  We are meant to expend energy during the day and use our hands and bodies to handle manual tasks.  

Our distant ancestors lived in caves and the tasks of hunting, fishing, and gathering were just daily chores needed to sustain life.  If you didn't accomplish these life giving activities, you did not survive, period.  For some of us, these drives and instinctual habits remain alive within us in modern day society.  

Today a lot of these activities that were performed by our ancestors are gone due to the introduction of modern conveniences and technologies. They are just simply no longer needed or required activities.

I have friends ask me why I go backpacking for days in the woods, why I sit in a duck blind when it's snowing outside, or why I fly fish for hours in terrible weather only to catch a few fish (and then release them all).  These activities make me feel as though I am tapping into that relentless and powerful instinctual drive.  A drive and curiosity of what's out there that has been lost by many in our society due to the conveniences of modern day living.  

I know some friends that live this outdoor life daily. (Trust me, I am jealous).  My home is in a metropolitan area and although the fire pit out back is great, the true need of being in the wilderness is not met.  I have to get my "fix" in smaller doses on planned outings.

Fly fishing, similar to hunting, backpacking, and many other outdoor activities triggers a feeling within me like no other.  Hooking into a fish brings on a rush that is undeniable and often times a large fish will leave me shaky as the adrenaline pumps through my veins.  

Being out in nature gets me back to satisfying my instinctual need as a human being.  Sitting on a mountain top with an incredible view or staring down a foggy river at sunrise makes me truly realize how small we are in the grand scheme of things.  This viewpoint brings a different perspective to life and the world and provides clarity and insight.  It raises the question, how significant are we in the big picture as individuals.  This viewpoint helps minimize daily problems and any issues I may be facing.  For some including myself, there is also a religious connection that is made when experiencing these natural wonders. 

Fly fishing is very involved and keeps our minds constantly on the task at hand and completely in the moment.  We rely on skills that have been acquired and learned over years to make decisions.  Some of these skills. I like to believe, are instinctual and part of our DNA.  

Although catch and release is my standard and is becoming more of a common practice for most fly anglers, the pursuit of fish in a river and the thought that you could provide food and nourishment to your family and friends offers a feeling of true accomplishment. 

Being immersed in the outdoors while fly fishing is like no other feeling or experience.  I receive a feeling of gratitude and respect for being out and a part of the elements and also a sense of pride and history while enjoying one of human's oldest traditions and activities.  Not everyone experiences this same internal drive and excitement that some of us share, but I would still challenge everyone to pick up a fly rod or any other outdoor activity and head into the wilderness. You may not know what you are missing.  That instinctual drive buried deep in your core may surface.  

In closing, I'm just glad my family does not rely on me for food like our ancestors during the slow days on the river.  For now going to the local (modern) Mexican restaurant isn't that bad.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Getting Back to the Blue Lines

by Matt Walters
Photo by David Cannon (click here for more photos by David)
I learned how to fly fish on smaller water.  I practiced the intricacies of this type of fishing for years on these technical stretches.  When moving to an area where my home river was much larger I didn't have to pay attention to some of the smaller details and utilize some of these fine tuned skills as often.  I'm not saying that larger rivers are easy and not technical, but you can get away with making more mistakes and you have a much larger buffer room for error.   My tendencies now, after spending a great deal of time on a large river and also saltwater fly fishing, are to pay less attention to the smaller details, walk around freely in the water, and bomb long casts just because they are fun to do.  Unfortunately, these techniques and fun tendencies don't correlate to success on small water.  I have to really remind myself of the tactics and ways that were once second nature to me when I make trips to smaller streams and rivers.  Here are a few tips when dealing with smaller water that I have to make a mental note of when getting back to the blue lines:


-Stay out of the water as much as possible.  The sight of your large silhouette will scare fish away.  I'm a taller guy and I have spooked more fish because of this than I realize and probably will ever want to know.

-Use faster moving sections of water and seams to disguise your movements and your body underwater.  The bubbles and stronger current act like an underwater visual barrier.

-Keep as much fly line out of the water as possible and make smooth softer landing casts.  A good friend of mine once told me after I returned from a saltwater fly fishing trip to fish a smaller river, "don't try to kill the trout with the strike indicator." I may have been still using similar casting force as I was when throwing large clousers and crab patterns long distance.

-Use rocks, branches, logs, and downed trees to your advantage by hiding and crouching behind them.

- Be mindful of your shadow and use shaded spots to your advantage versus standing in the direct sunlight.   

- Wear colors that match your surroundings to blend in with your background and break up your silhouette.  I once had a red rain jacket when I first started fly fishing, but quickly retired that for obvious reasons.  Trout can pick out these colors above the surface.

- Use small white or neutral colored strike indicators to mimic bubbles on the waters surface versus unnatural colors that can alert fish to your presence.

-Approach the water slowly and methodically.  I have a tendency to want to rush out of my car after blasting music to get pumped up and walk right into the water.  The best approach is to take your time and devise a plan of attack.  Take a deep breath, the fish were not head banging to the Allman Brothers band for an hour before you arrived and are on an entirely different pace.  Therefore, you should slow down to their speed.  Planning helps you maximize your opportunities as there may be fewer chances to catch fish on a smaller stream or river so every cast counts.

- Avoid kicking up rocks on the bottom and walk in a slow speed not creating wakes especially in slack water conditions.

- If you are in the water attempt to create a decent distance between you and the area you are fishing but, do your best to not compromise your casting angle on the fish (typically casting around a 90 degree angle to the fish in the current).  

- Use finer tippet material and leaders to catch more fish.  The fish may be more difficult to actually bring to net, but you will have many more opportunities and hook sets come your way as the shallow clearer water allows better vision for the trout.

-Teaming up with another person to spot fish is always very beneficial.  Two sets of eyes is better than one.  Having a buddy high on a bank overlooking upstream can yield great results.

Small streams and rivers are great to fish and are one of my favorites.  With the variety of fishing I do these days, it helps to have a mental checklist to remind me of some of the smaller details that may have slipped through the cracks when targeting other species of fish and on larger bodies of water that require less finesse. 

Please feel free to add any other tactics to the comments below as we would love to hear them.  

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Technology & Fly Fishing

by Matt Walters

Photo by David Cannon
With all of the new technology available out there you can still remain active in the fly fishing community and discover new topics about our pastime without ever leaving your couch.  I believe the use of technology should be used wisely to enhance our knowledge and skills, but for me time on the water is a cell phone free zone.  It is my time away from modern technologies and a place where I can gather my thoughts and escape the daily grind.  The only thing that typically requires batteries is a quick camera shot on most days (although I'm not perfect and have carried on a phone conversation or two while wading).  My suggestion is to use the below items while planning and to help strategize for trips, but to keep the power button off while on the water as much as possible to fully enjoy the moment.

This week I wanted to go over a few websites, programs, and apps that I have found super helpful for retrieving current conditions and also planning and safely navigating new terrain.  Below is a list of the most used technology for these circumstances:

River Data iPhone App - this great app delivers historical and current river conditions throughout the U.S. The app allows you to check water temperature, stream flow, and gage height.  You can create favorites in the menu for even quicker information pulls.  This is especially great for tail waters or after heavy rains to quickly check your current river conditions.  The app even includes the tiny stream that flows through my neighborhood.

Tides & Multi Tide iPhone Apps - this is another crucial water condition app available at the tip of your fingers.  Although tide tables and predictions are readily available through many paper publications, this app allows the user to quickly search through tide tables for the entire nation.  The information provided back gives the time and height of the tides.  The app even integrates sunrise and sunset into the time lapse view. 

Trimble GPS Hunt Pro App -  although I started using this app more for hunting and scouting for hunting trips, I believe this piece of technology is great for fly fishing.  I especially believe this app comes in very handy on unfamiliar and remote waters.  It allows you to safely navigate over varied terrain and note your exact location.  The app gives you the ability to create trips with a start point.  During the course of the day the trip is active and a blue line on a topographical map will trace your exact steps throughout the day via GPS tracking.  You can mark spots, like a honey hole you may have found or a perfect camping spot.  Marking the spot on the trip also allows you to take a photo of the location as well.  The trips created can be saved and you can use them at a later date and retrace your exact steps.  The app will continue to work while stowed in your pocket in your waders and also functions without cell phone service because it only relies on GPS.  This app may be the only reason I pull my phone out during a fishing trip (but only for a quick second of course).

Fly Fishing Message Boards (NGTO-North Georgia Trout Online) - message boards are one the fastest ways to learn more about local conditions and the opinions of other anglers who have actually visited these locations first hand.  North Georgia Trout Online is a message board I visit frequently to get river\stream conditions and also to hear the experiences of other anglers in the local area.  There are many great write ups of trips you may be considering taking or are just curious to learn more about.  The perspectives can vary and as any great angler knows, most people are not going to give away their "secret spot" to a message board forum with thousands of users (I know I wouldn't).  The message board also displays maps created by users that show specific highlights and areas of interest.  NGTO is great for me locally and you can find other message boards available through a web search that applies specifically to your area.

Google Earth- we all are familiar with this one or at least should be.  This has to be one of the most fun to use.  You can fly around the world and view sites in incredible image quality in front of your computer screen with some pretzels and beer.  I'm a sucker for maps in general and could spend hours glued to the screen on this one.  Discover new sections of water you have never seen before or plan your hike in.  Nothing compares to real life scouting, but this can provide a great start and spark some interest in some new areas.

These are just a few of the technologies I use when planning trips and for retrieving current conditions.  The best part is that all of the above are available free of charge.  We'll explore more uses of technology as it relates to Fly Fishing in future posts.  

If you have any ideas to add to the list or if you have another creative use for anything above feel free to comment below. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Trophy Regs for the Chattahoochee?

by Matt Wilson
Fisheries Technician, Chris Looney, with a 14-pound, 31 inch brown trout collected during an electrofishing survey on the Chattahoochee between Buford Dam and Morgan Falls Dam in October 2013. (Photo from Georgia Department of Natural Resources)
 
I had the opportunity to meet with Patrick O’Rouke, Fisheries Biologist with the Wildlife Resources Division of the Georgia DNR to review some of the results from the Department’s recent study on brown trout behavior in the Chattahoochee tailwater. After discussing brown trout movement, diet, and spawning habits, I quickly reached a topic I have been itching to talk about. Will anglers ever see a strictly enforced catch and release, artificial only section of the river above Morgan Falls Dam?

Many anglers enjoy and appreciate the chance to catch wild trout in the Metro Atlanta area. And just as many anglers travel to other rivers throughout the United States in pursuit of big trout. However, we already have monster, boomerang-jawed brown trout right in our backyards. Is it selfish of us to want a section of the ‘Hooch dedicated to growing trout big enough to scare small children?
The discussion regarding a trophy-trout section of the ‘Hooch is not something new. If you hang around enough of the local fly shops and TU Chapter meetings the topic is sure to come up at some point.
I understand anglers have access to the Delayed Harvest section of the Chattahoochee tailwater but I am not the only angler who has expressed an interest in something more. There’s no doubt that the river is large enough and supports the habitat to grow big trout and lots of them. If we could protect a specific stretch of river and give that area the chance to grow some big fish and keep those big fish around, couldn’t we attract more anglers to visit and support this fishery? Why can’t we have some of the same “trophy” regulations as some of our other Southeastern rivers? 
Here’s our answer

According to Patrick, a lack of consistent nutrients in the river attributes to slower growth rates amongst trout. The evidence also supports that fish numbers as well as catch rates remain high throughout the river which defers the argument and/or need for a special “trophy” regulation section of the river. Essentially, the status quo of the ‘Hooch tailwater will not change any time soon. The science behind recent reports regarding insufficient nutrients and oxygen levels is unfortunate for the anglers that would prefer to see a separate section of the river ( catch and release, artificial only, etc. ) designated for those anglers looking to catch and release big trout on a more consistent basis.  (Click here for the link to the Brown Trout study).

 
If you as an angler and supporter of the ‘Hooch had the opportunity to create a “trophy” regulations section of the river, would you?  Would it be beneficial or detrimental to the long term success of the Chattahoochee Tailwater fishery?





Monday, February 10, 2014

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Tailwaters - Buford Dam & The Chattahoochee River

by Matt Walters    
Buford Dam below Lake Lanier 
Over the past few months everytime I hear the sound of rain I know it's going to be trouble for fly fishing on my home water, the Chattahoochee River.  It has been one of the wettest past years that I can remember and it has caused rivers to reach near flood levels and lakes to hover around full pool consistently.  The water we receive is the life blood of our city and others downstream. The abundant water that flows down the Chattahoochee provides a home for aquatic species and nourishment for other species that live nearby.  So even though I cringe hearing the sound of rain falling on the roof top I realize there is a greater good at stake. 

The other side of this equation is not enough water.  Not too long ago we were praying for rain as the water crisis in Atlanta was an alarming concern.  Lake Lanier's water level was so low that most boat launches were closed as the water didn't even come close to covering the bottom of the ramp.  This quickly grabbed the attention of many people who call Atlanta home as 70% of our drinking water comes from this river system and Lake Lanier.  

The volatile ups and downs we have witnessed over the past few years with droughts and too much water doesn't compare to how the Chattahoochee River used to behave.  It was once a wild and untamed natural resource that was capable of causing havoc and destruction along it's waterway.  The river was responsible for destroying many communities along it's banks as well as wiping out many agricultural lands during times of heavy rainfall.  Looking at a historical graph of the streamflow shows every few years water running as high as 25,000 CFS prior to the dam being constructed.  To give a comparison, preferable wading conditions on the Chattahoochee near the dam are around 800 CFS.  The water which was capable of such destruction could also be reduced to a trickle causing fear and anxiety in all who relied on it's life giving properties.    



Snow on Buford Dam.  View from Lake Lanier.
Completed in 1957, Buford Dam took about 10 years to complete through planning and construction.  Located about 50 miles north of Atlanta, the dam was built to tame these wild waters and create a consistency in water availability for the surrounding area.  The dam controlled the amount of water released into the river so that it stayed in a stable range not rising too high or dropping too low.  The other huge benefit of the dam is the electricity that it generates, supplying power to thousands of homes and people.

While none of us want to have another river dammed as they interupt a pre established ecosystem there are some great benefits to having this tailwater so close to my home.  One of the most overlooked reasons is the availability of trout fishing this far south.  Without the dam producing such cold water (on average around 48 degrees flowing from the bottom of Lake Lanier through the dam all year long) these waters would not hold trout.    Introduced soon after the dam was constructed, trout were stocked in the water through private funding.  Soon after, the government funded stockings of rainbow and brown trout.  Within the past few years, it was found that the brown trout population is able to reproduce on the river bottom creating a natural life cycle.  In my opinion this is a great accomplishment and something to be noted and appreciated the next time you hook into a brown on the "hooch".               

The reality of this tailwater is that it offers a trout fishing opportunity in a place where it was not possible before. The release of the dam and water level is completely up to two factors, mother nature and the operators at the dam.  The water is released due to the need for water downstream, hydro power demand, and/or the excess collection of water in Lake Lanier.  We are at least given an update of the water release schedule via a phone number with an automated message the day of and on Fridays for the entire weekend annoucing the water release schedules.  On other tailwaters many are not afforded this luxury and are at the mercy of a completely random and unpublicized release schedule.  The downside to this is the inability to plan trips in advance without a back up river to travel to.  Your guests (especially coming from out of town) and you will not know if the water release will occur on that particular day far enough ahead of time.
High muddy waters last summer at Jones Bridge on the Chattahoochee
Back to the rain.  I don't want to be a selfish angler as this water is used for much more important things, but the release schedules these past few months have made planning and going on fishing trips extremely difficult and minimal.  If it weren't for hunting, cabin fever would have set in long ago.  The dam has been releasing two times a day recently making the water rise to unwadable levels and at times too high for boats to run.  The water then remains high throughout the entire day. That being the case, I would not trade this amazing man made trout fishery for anything.  Even after consecutive days of heavy rain the high water flow currently pales in comparison to the days when the river was not dammed. 

The Chattahoochee tailwater is one of the most beautiful rivers and has been ranked in Trout Unlimited's 100 best trout streams for years.  The river changes as it travels from Buford Dam and through Atlanta.  Sometimes it is surrounded by steep cliffs, other times the banks are low as it meanders around slow turns.  The shoals are wide and plentiful and exploring with a boat can yield a new spot rarely fished by others.  I have enjoyed many afternoons taking a break on the rivers edge or on one of the many islands relaxing and gathering my thoughts to the sound of the water flowing by.

The Chattahoochee is one of the southernmost trout holding water and I am proud to call it my home water.  Even during high precipitation/water times I at least have the satisfaction of knowing the dam contributes to keeping the lights on at the fly shop.  

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Snow Day in Atlanta

 
Hope everyone is having a safe and warm day.  We are at home in snowy Atlanta with all of the essentials.
 
 


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Who is Walters Fly Rods?

by Matt Walters

Photo by David Cannon
I recently had a conversation with Kent Klewein about an article he had written for he and Louis Cahill's blog, Gink and Gasoline (http://www.ginkandgasoline.com/fly-fishing-tips-technique/is-your-introvert-personality-holding-back-your-fly-fishing-growth/).  If you haven't already visited their site, you are missing out on some of the best fly fishing content out there.  I left our conversation with a ton of insight and also a realization that not everyone knows who I am and what this company is truly about.  So here goes.....

This story begins about 20 years ago  growing up North of Atlanta in a neighborhood with a creek and a farm pond.  I grew up in the same neighborhood as Kent.  I remember watching Kent and his buddies catching fish out of the pond and creeks.  My friends and I were slightly younger and tried to follow along and pick up any fishing advice these guys (that we looked up to) would be willing to give us.  I received a lot of information directly from them, but learning through osmosis of just watching them fish was an unforgettable lesson.  

Fast forward through countless bass, crappie, trout, bream, and too many late night cat fishing trips (oh the late night cat fishing....) and you arrive in the soccer fields at Brevard College in North Carolina.  I'm receiving my first fly casting lesson next to Kings's Creek from my college roommates, Peter Caye and Steven Marascalco.  It was quickly realized that this was not only a passion, but something I HAD to do and do VERY often.  My mountain bike, backpacking gear, and conventional fishing gear began to collect dust in the closet rather quickly.   My fly rod and fly tying vise were in constant use.  In between college courses and "occasionally" skipping a few I would hit the local rivers or hang out watching fishing videos and looking at new destinations and new flies with my good buddy, Guide Ken Hardwick, at the local fly shop, Davidson River Outfitters.  These were the days and I would fish as much as I humanly could.

The fishing didn't end in the mountains.  I soon discovered salt water fly fishing early on and have been chasing redfish and sea trout around the Charleston, SC area for years.  I typically kayak fish around the small creeks, but when another good friend, Capt. Elliott Hillock gives me the call to hop on the flats boat I'm all in.  I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to fly fish for bonefish in the caribean a year back, an experience of a lifetime and I was able to share that excellent time with my wife. I love the diversity that is offered between saltwater and freshwater fishing.  To me life doesn't give you two better options. 

After college I moved back to Atlanta from Brevard, NC.  Wanting more information on fly fishing for trout in Georgia, I approached Kent to see what he was up to and to locate some good spots in Georgia.  We caught up and he offered up some great spots and fly patterns to get the job done.  I still made trips to the mountains regularly as I still had Ken's couch in Brevard to crash on which I utilized as much as possible.  We would have a few drinks, tie flies and then fish the next day from sun up to sun down only to do it all over again until the weekend reached it's expiration date and it was back to Atlanta again for a week of work.

I spoke with all of my buddies over the past year or so about my idea for starting a fly rod & reel company and there was an overwhelming support and excitement from all of them although everyone agreed it would not be an easy task.  I have always wanted to have some sort of stake and part in this great fly fishing community, no matter how great or small.  I like to have the thought that this will be something I can tell my grandchildren about, a tangible part of something you love to do, the ability to chase your dreams.  

I have bounced plenty of ideas off all of my buddies through the course of this start up and they have always remained honest and upfront through it all with their opinions and feedback.  Kent has been a great friend and mentor similar to when we were in our younger years and I am truly thankful for that.  

This year has been exciting and fun starting this new company.  The fly fishing world is full of some of the best and most interesting people one can meet.  I feel blessed and extremely fortunate with all of the people I have been able to meet and stay in contact with over the years and the new ones to come.  I can only imagine it getting better.  

I hope you learned a little more about me and where this company's heart is.  I'm sure I have accidently left some parts of the story out, but to simplify things, I love fly fishing, tying flies, building fly rods, and meeting the amazing people involved.

Feel free to drop me an email anytime at matt.walters@waltersflyrods.com for any more information or if you ever want to go fishing.


Matt Walters
Walters Fly Rods, LLC
Atlanta, GA
www.waltersflyrods.com