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Every Memorial Day weekend we try to make our way to North Georgia to see my parents and stay with them at their cabin outside of Blue Ridge.  This has proven to be a really great time to fish the creek that their cabin sits on.  Often times our friends Blake and Erica make the trip with us.  This year’s trip would be a little different than in years past.  The BIG difference this year was that we now had small children(and their stuff) to haul with us.  Throw in a wedding to attend in Auburn on Saturday and this was no routine trip.  Luckily for us Auburn is on the way to the cabin, so we just had to shift the trip back a day.

The wedding was for Amanda’s cousin Luke and his now-wife Madeline who are students at Auburn.  The wedding was held at a little white church and was followed by a beautiful reception at a local park – all of it very nice.  We ducked out of the reception a tad early and hit the road.  Blake was able to borrow his dad’s GMC Savana which ended up being the perfect vehicle for the six of us(thanks Mr. Bubbie!).  We made it to the cabin late Saturday night.

Blake and I got up early on Sunday and headed out to the creek.  Armed with a dry-dropper rig I got into fish fairly quickly.

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Three nice rainbows in a row at the first spot had me pretty excited for what the rest of the day held.  We have about a mile of creek that we are able to fish out of our back door and we typically cover half a mile in a day.  We fish that half a mile pretty hard, hitting all the likely lies.  We continued on from our first spot wading upstream and fishing those likely lies along the way.  Most of those lies were holding fish, some more others.  The rainbows continued to be the stars of the show.

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I didn’t keep count of the number of fish I caught but the action was pretty consistent in the morning.  It was a little strange that they were all rainbows, usually we see a few browns in that stretch below the cabin.  We headed back in for lunch then spent the rest of the afternoon with our families in Blue Ridge at the Arts in the Park festival.  The festival is usually pretty good for booth shopping and people watching.  It sure has grown since we first started going, there were a lot more vendors this year.  We got back to the cabin in time to fish the evening bite on the creek.  We headed to a different spot and upon walking up you could see fish holding in the water.  I got into the action within a few drifts.

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We finally saw our first brown on the day and it was a good one.  There is something about a brown trout that just makes it feel a little more special than a rainbow – especially after a day full of rainbows. We were then joined by my dad and the three of us continued to nymph the runs that were holding fish. Pretty soon I was hooked into a monster.  I got a solid fight from a solid fish, but  I was prepared for it.  I was throwing a 7wt, my tippet was 2x fluoro in anticipation that we run into some big fish.  I’ve been outgunned in the past and I wanted to limit the lost fish heartbreak as much as possible.  This rainbow nearly measured the length of the net I was using which we later found out to be 27″.

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Shortly after releasing my fish Blake hooked into a monster of his own that looked every bit as big as mine and probably even a little heavier.  He was using a 5wt so the fight was a little more delicate, but he handled it well and had the fish close enough to touch, unfortunately he had me for a net man and I couldn’t get into position to get the fish’s head in the net so I opted to go tail first, which proved to be a big mistake.  The trout spooked and broke him off – I felt horrible.  This trout was one of the biggest fish we’ve seen hooked on the creek, definitely the biggest Blake has hooked and I screwed it up.  There is no way to make up for that except to keep fishing.  Keep fishing we did and soon Blake got a bit of redemption by hooking into another solid fish.

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I don’t remember if we measured this fish but it had to be just as big as the one I had previously caught.  I was really relieved that Blake landed a monster of his own after my net snafu.  The incredible fishing wasn’t over though because I soon hooked into another good fish.  This fish was so massive that the fight was actually somewhat sluggish.  Don’t get me wrong it was still a chore to bring this fish in, but there weren’t any blistering runs, the fish just tried to use his weight and position in the current to out-power me and fortunately for me it didn’t work.

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This brown was longer than the 27″ net and is without a doubt the biggest trout I’ve ever caught.  I know it is cliche, but the pictures don’t do the fish justice.  This fish was thick, as tall as it was wide; it was massive.  They often say fish that big have shoulders, well this one truly did.  You couldn’t slap the smile off my face if you wanted to.  After a bit of non-action at the spot we ended the night with some twilight dry fly fishing back below the cabin.  Catching trout on dries at the end of a day of fishing like we just experienced was the perfect ending to an incredible day.  As was the case with last year it would be extremely hard to top our first day’s fishing at the cabin, but we really didn’t expect to.

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Took the family up to Alexandria this past weekend to visit my sister and her husband. Kurt and I spent a few hours Saturday morning on a local lake. It was a beautiful morning, conditions seemed perfect, but the bass were uncooperative. Kurt caught a small one and I blanked. After that all we could catch were tiny bream. Although I caught fish it still felt like a skunking. It was a nice paddle on the lake, I just wish the fishing was better. This red-winged blackbird kept me entertained for a little while, hopping from one lily pad to another eating bugs along the way.

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Fast forward a couple days and at my door when I got home from work yesterday was a new fiberglass rod I purchased. I’ve been wanting to see what all the fuss with glass rods was about and with Cabela’s putting the CGt series on sale and myself having a gift card to spend, now seemed like the perfect time. I got a 7′ 3wt, which should be perfect for those small streams in Georgia and the neighborhood pond – which I had time to hit that evening.

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I strung the rod up with 3wt line, grabbed a beer, and walked down to the pond for some non-stop bluegill action. I had a stealth bomber tied on and hung a zug bug underneath. The zug bug saw 90% of the action and caught mostly small fish while the bomber caught a few palm sized gills. I ended the evening fish with a solid bend in the glass rod courtesy of a healthy channel cat, who somewhat surprisingly ate the little zug bug.

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I was impressed with the CGt, when you pick it up and give it the wiggle test(that most fly fishermen do, but have no idea why they do it) it feels good and flexes throughout like I imagine a glass rod would. After the wiggle test I was kind of expecting it not have a backbone, but it did and you could feel it when you shot a good bit of line out. I saw it during the fight with the catfish as well, it handled it like a champ. The cork on the rod seemed to be of a pretty good quality, very smooth to the touch. My wife liked the color of the rod blank and I do too, it’s not an ugly rod. I could do without the slip ring reel seat, which is not my favorite way to secure a reel, but that is what was offered on the 7′ 3wt version. So far I like it, I will continue putting it to the test in the neighborhood on the bass, bream and catfish and later this month in Georgia on some small stream trout.

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Just wanted to drop a quick plug for the best little kayak shop on the Mississippi Gulf coast – Everything Kayak. I had the pleasure of working with them at the Gulfport Yacht and Boat Show earlier this month. They had a great set up at the show showing off a small part of their kayak and SUP inventory, which included an area where you could demo their boats. Unfortunately the weather was not very cooperative and didn’t really get a lot of people out on the water. Normally this would be a big problem for a kayak shop, but Everything Kayak has an indoor pool at the shop where you can demo anything they carry – how cool is that? So it really wasn’t a big deal to tell folks to just head up the road to demo the boat of their interest.

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Typical of big boat shows, the main focus was on the boating and yachting markets, but there were a few entertaining sideshows. The Everything Kayak booth was right next to the sea lions (don’t call them seals) who put on a show every few hours that was fairly entertaining. There were also on-the-water shows showcasing the Flyboard, a jet propelled system that allows the users to hover/fly above the water on boots that spray streams of water from them. Of course our own demo boats provided a boatload of entertainment when Ed showed us an impromptu re-entry onto a SUP.

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If you’re on the Mississippi Gulf coast and you have any interest whatsoever in kayaks or SUPs go check Everything Kayak out. They carry pretty much every major brand out there, so if you’re looking to compare different kayaks it is super easy with their indoor demo pool. The best bit of advice I can give anyone looking to get into kayak fishing is to demo as many boats as possible – this is a great place to do it.

We took advantage of a Saturday in the Park this past weekend to attend the 67th annual City Park Big Bass Rodeo and Fishtival in New Orleans. I competed in the first annual Boats on the Bayou tournament and was shocked to hear that 88 others did as well – that’s a ton of kayak fishermen for little old Bayou St. John!

With the top prizes going to those who caught the few resident bayou redfish most of that kayak fishing crowd focused their efforts on the section of bayou closest to Lake Pontchartrain. I thought that would be pretty fruitless after the massive deluge the area received leading up to the event so I focused on bass. Fishing around Demourelles Island with a Texas rigged worm netted me a few small bass – so small I was too embarrassed to take them over to the weigh station. Later in the day I was able to land a bass worthy enough to weigh – it was 13.75″ and a little over a pound. He hit the worm as I tried to untangle a terrible cast I made into a tree, quite the lucky break, maybe a sign I needed to slow it down.

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The tournament was a pretty quick one, starting at 7:00am and ending at 10:30am, so I paddled toward the weigh station thinking my little bass might actually place. At the weigh station I found out it wouldn’t be the top bass as a 3+ lb’er had already been caught. I really didn’t think for a second it would win, but maybe it could place. As it turns out they only announced the weights of the winners at the awards ceremony so I still don’t know where I stacked up against the competition. One would think with 89 people signed up for a tournament, you would at least announce first through third places in each category. Still we enjoyed watching grown-ups act a fool as other grown-ups threw packs of soft plastics from the bandstand.

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Unfortunately no redfish were caught during the tournament. I’m not sure if it was because of all the rain, but maybe I made the right decision not to go after them, I at least got to catch fish. I was questioning the decision not to target them though when I saw my buddy Steve with a 1.5 lb trout on a stringer immediately after I launched! Had me worried the water was salty for a moment, but I think that trout was just lost, I didn’t hear of another one caught. It is pretty cool that you can catch redfish, trout, bass and bream all out of one body of water, right here in the city. I’m not sure many places can boast that.

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After the tournament and awards ceremony (results here) we took a stroll around the Sculpture Garden. It was the perfect time of year for it too as the azaleas are in full bloom and the live oaks are beginning to leaf out. The irises were looking a little ragged, but I’m guessing it is still a little early for them. Two of the pieces of art really wowed us and I think you’ll see why in the pictures.

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After that we headed on up the bayou to where Massey’s was having an on the water kayak demo day. What started off as a foggy, chilly morning turned into a hot and sunny affair perfect for paddling a kayak. Marin really took to the new Cruise 10 and who could blame her – it looks like the perfect little fishing boat for tykes.

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