My 36th birthday was rapidly approaching and my wife and I were running errands when she asked me what I would like to do to celebrate. The realization that I had the entire weekend off hit me and I replied, “I wanna go trout fishing!” I expected to be shut down or laughed at but to my surprise my amazing wife was immediately on board. I have openly admitted in previous articles that I have neglected the trout fishing in my own back yard so I decided to head to Blueridge Georgia and hire a guide and see what this area had to offer. I called Hunter Morris from North Georgia Fly Fishing and set up a half day wade trip and asked if he would show me some good public access areas as well. Hunter was more than happy to oblige and the plan was hatched.
I arrived in Blueridge Sunday evening and tried my hand at some public access areas on the upper Toccoa River. Although this area was beautiful and had tons of water that looked incredible, I was also fighting a Sunday afternoon early summer tube hatch. I watched as every hole I set up to fish was quickly blown by giddy teenagers milking every last bit of fun out of the quickly fading weekend. Luck was not in my favor that evening but I will definitely return to that stretch, just not a warm early summer weekend. The next morning, my birthday oh by the way, was my guided trip with Hunter. We fished Noontootla Creek and any frustration from the previous evening was quickly gone. I lost a couple nice fish very early on but just seeing these beautiful fish chase my dry fly in this small creek was a beautiful start to the day. I ended up landing a few fish including a gorgeous fish, probably my personal best rainbow trout. But more than that, it was just an incredible day with one of the best guides I have personally fished with.
I like to think that I’m a pretty decent trout fisherman, but every time I hire a guide I look at it as a master class in whatever type of fishing we are doing, and my morning with Hunter was by far the most impressive learning experience I’ve had in a long time. Most guides are able to point out small flaws in your fishing to try and help increase your chances of success. But a truly great guide can articulate those flaws and also identify why those flaws occur so you are able to correct your own mistakes. Hunter is by far the most skilled guide I have ever seen at this, he is the Picasso of tweaking and explaining to create a beautiful result. And he manages to do all this without making you feel inadequate or like you’re not up to the task. I have heard horror stories of clients who hire guides and then refuse to listen or take any suggestions and that has just never made any sense to me. Yes, when I hire a guide I’m hoping to use their expertise to hopefully find fish and honestly I’m hoping for big fish. But more than that I’m hoping to learn something to add to my toolbox. It might be something with my cast or fly selection or why we are targeting a certain area at a certain time, but I always expect to learn something. Hell, that’s why you hire a guide! Because they know more than you. Spending your hard earned money on a guided trip wouldn’t make any sense if they didn’t. Going in to a day of guided fishing drooling over the thought of big fish is not a bad thing, but also take advantage of everything else at your disposal as well. You are getting to spend a half or a full day with an expert who is literally be being paid to share their knowledge and time with you. So don’t get hyper focused on numbers and size, maybe be more focused on what you can learn and how you can improve and I’ll bet the numbers and size will follow. I’ll bet you a day of guided fishing on that!