The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 16 No. 48 - September 28, 2016

reel time

Tails of the Toccoa

Reel time

captain rUSTY CHINNIS | SUn

Hunter Barns holds one of Bob Seeger's brown trout before releasing
it back to the Toccoa.


Gossamer veils of mist floated over the mirror smooth surface of the water as our guide, Hunter Barnes, launched the drift boat into the Toccoa river near Blue Ridge, Ga. My friend Bob Seeger (no relation to the singer) and I stood on the bank, fly rods in hand, eager to begin a morning adventure. Loading the boat and pushing off with the oars Barnes primed our enthusiasm with stories of the big brown and rainbow trout that inhabited the river. The quantity of fish in the river is amazing, considering that it is one of the most southerly water courses that hold populations of trout. This river is special, yielding wild fish that top 30 inches,

Barnes had rigged our five-weight outfits with three flies, a small worm imitation, a nymph and a large dry fly, that would also serve as a strike indicator signaling a bite on the other two flies. The oars hadn't even pushed us down the river before Seeger lifted his rod, setting the hook on a small rainbow trout. Barnes and Seeger commented on what a good omen that fish was. I reserved judgement based on trips when a fish was landed on the first cast followed by a less than spectacular day. As it turned out they were right.

As we began to float down the river, we both caught rainbow and brown trout from 10 to 12 inches, Not large,but fun on the light fly outfits. As we continued down the river, Barnes pointed out pools and runs, coaching us on placement of the flies and mending the line up stream, insuring a natural drag free float.

Hopping from the boat Barnes pulled us to a pool near the bank guarded by shallow rocks. Casting into the pool, I was startled as a brown trout pushing 20 inches rose from the off color water, missing my dry fly and causing my heart to leap with excitement. We tried presenting the fly again and again, working over the pool, but the trout wouldn't respond to the fly again. Although I didn't catch that trout, I was thrilled to have seen the trout attempting to take the fly. It also made Seeger and me aware that we had a good chance at landing a large trout.

Continuing down the river, we caught trout consistently, a few between 14 and 16 inches, respectable on a Southern trout stream. Casting his fly near a submerged log, Seeger lifted his rod as his dry fly disappeared beneath the surface. The bend in his rod signaled a heavy fish as a huge brown trout came to the surface and swam towards the boat. Caught off guard, Seeger grabbed the line in an attempt to get the fish near Barnes' net as the guide held for Seeger to let go of the line. The trout lingered at the boat for a few seconds before bolting for deep water, breaking the line and leaving three anglers speechless. When we had gathered our composure enough to analyze what had happened Barnes informed us that the trout was close to 28 inches, big even for this river, but rare in the fall. For the balance of the float, we caught fish losing count at 30 trout before Barnes pushed the boat to the shore at the end of the trip.

We had the best trip we had ever experienced on the river and a story that we would never forget. If you're a trout fisherman, you really should experience the phenomenal fishing the river has to offer. Although the river produces year round, the best months are late winter, when the largest fish are caught. To book a trip you can reach Barnes by contacting Blue Ridge Outfitters at or call 706-633-0323.

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