FISHING AT CALLAWAY GARDENSCentral Georgia Fishing at it's Best
BY PETE NELMS
Have you ever gotten out of bed on a Saturday morning, turned on the T.V. to ESPN and watched as trout after trout were being caught? Have you ever wished that you could immediately go trout fishing and catch as many or more trout than the fisherman on T.V.? Well you can at Pine Mountain's Callaway Gardens. This kind of incredible trout fishing is available from November through March along with year round panfish and largemouth bass fishing thanks to the efforts of the fisheries biologists from Auburn University.
A RECREATIONAL MECCA
Located just over an hour south of Atlanta Ga, Callaway Gardens is a 14,000 acre botanical garden and family resort that has activities ranging from hiking and bike trails to 63 holes of championship golf. There is something fun for every member of the family. For the fly fishing enthusiast, there are 14 ponds and lakes ranging from 3.5 acres to 175 acres. A strict catch and release policy, with the exception of Mountain View lake which is the largest, affords the angler one of the best opportunity to catch trout up to 4 pounds. Trout are stocked only during the winter months because the water temperature during the summer months becomes too warm for the trout to survive. However, incredible fishing for bass and many varieties of panfish is available year round. In 1996 these lakes produced a 12 pound largemouth bass and numerous panfish over 2 pounds. One shellcracker exceeded three pounds. These ponds were constructed originally to irrigate the gardens and except for the trout pond, were stocked in 1949. The ponds had been closed for fishing until two years ago when they were opened under the Orvis endorsed guiding program. More than one possible line class record has been released back into the ponds to protect the well being of the fish.
The Orvis Proshop at Callaway can provide all of your tackle needs, or if you prefer you can bring your own. As a good all around choice, a 5 to 6 weight fly rod would be exellent. If one was trying to catch one of the many 10 pound plus bass that lurk in these ponds, you might consider a heavier rod. The majority of the time a floating line will do, however, when fishing for cold weather bass, a sink tip line can be helpful. Fly selection will vary with the season in which you fish. For trout, Woolly Buggers, streamers, and your standard trout nymphs work well. Do not forget your dry flies, on a recent trip to Callaway, I was catching 3 and 4 pound trout on # 18 dry flies, the water temperature was 46 degrees. For bass in the spring, summer, and fall, streamers, divers, and surface poppers will catch most of the fish~ Panfish will readily take small poppers, trout nymphs and red heads. The knowledgable guides at Callaway can provide detailed information on fly seledion~
ADVANCED OR NOVICE ANGLERS WELCOMED
Callaway Gardens offers exellent fishing for both the novice or the advanced angler. Those who are new to the sport can receive hourly casting instructions, two day clinics, and a lot of on the water instruction. For the advanced angler our knowledgable guides will provide you with a very memorable fishing experience.
GUIDED TRIPS AND ACCOMODATIONS AVAILABLE
While fishing at Callaway Gardens is a year round activity, the peak seasons are spring and fall, followed by summer and winter. Fishing is done from float tubes, on the larger lake there is a john boat available for two anglers and a guide. Half day and full day trips are available with a shore lunch included with the full day trip. Accomodations and travel packages are available for individuals, families, fishing clubs, or corporate groups and are an exellent day or weekend getaway. It sure beats sitting home on Saturday morning watching someone else catch all the fish.
For more information contact Callaway Gardens at 1 -800-Callaway or the Orvis Proshop at Callaway Gardens at (706) 663-5142.
South Georgia Rainbow are plentiful from November through March. All trout are released to preserve the fishery.
Pete Nelms is a guide at Pine Mountain's Callaway Gardens and takes his fly fishing very seriously