True trout fishermen know that this is the time of the year for the really big brown trout to vacate their deeper summer homes and migrate north on the Chattahoochee River for their spawning ritual. Most anglers who have experienced the excitement of fishing the brown trout run on any river have at least one story to tell, and so do I.
One fall morning quite a few years ago, I was wading alone in the Chattooga River north of Burrell’s Ford along the Georgia/South Carolina border. Though this old river is more famous for the movie “Deliverance”, it is probably just as well-known to expert anglers for the great fall-run of big, spawning brown trout.
While picking my way carefully upstream, the surrounding beauty, the rushing water, and the anticipation of catching a huge “brownie” gave me “goose bumps”. In the tail section of a big, deep pool, I saw a flash in the clear water, so I slowed every movement to a crawl and inched my way closer. When I came within an easy cast of the tail of the pool, the big fish made another swipe at something that was less than ten feet from where I stood. With the aid of my Polaroid glasses, I had a clear view of a brown trout that would easily exceed 30 inches in length. The hair stood up on the back of my neck and I broke into a cold sweat!
After regaining my composure, my shaking hands carefully manipulated the reel and cast the tiny spinner to a spot just above where the big brown had been feeding. He wasn’t a bit interested, so after several unsuccessful attempts, I started trying different lures. During the next half hour, I went through most of the offerings in my tackle box, but the big trout paid no attention. Nevertheless, he continued to make feeding runs near the back of the pool.
Though I couldn’t see what he was eating, I finally started to use my head. His actions indicated a chase, and that probably meant minnows of some type, so I reached back into the tackle box and tied on my smallest spoon. It proved to be a smart move!
No sooner had the spoon hit the water than the big brown engulfed it. Instead of taking off to parts unknown, however, this huge fish had other ideas. He simply went to the deepest part of the pool and refused to budge.
With a great hook-set in the largest trout of my lifetime, he wasn’t playing fair. Upon feeling the hook, fish are supposed to fight for their lives, but this one was not intimidated by my “sewing thread” line and flimsy fishing rod.
The next thirty minutes were agonizing. I put as much pressure as I could on the big trout, but he would just move over a little. Finally, I started picking up rocks and throwing them toward his approximate position, but the pool was more than 10 feet deep and they had no effect.
Eventually, my continual tugging on the line resulted in the lure becoming dislodged from the trout’s mouth. After that, I just sat down by a big rock and reflected, but knew I had done my best.
I never saw that big brown again, but the very next fall, I landed one from the same stretch of water that was 26 inches long. That one, however, made the mistake of running from the safety of the pool.
Certainly civilization has lessened the chances of catching another brown trout of that size from those waters, but the Chattahoochee River below Lake Lanier offers many spawning trout of that size. Huge browns still go toward Buford Dam to spawn during the fall each year, and with perseverance one can always get lucky!