I slept through the night for the first time in a week. That’s because my toothache wasn’t throbbing inside my head. That made for a great start to my day in Cartersville, Georgia. Before I knew it I was hopping in the truck with the boys of Cohutta Fishing Co., Garner Reid and Conner Jones.
We were on the way to the Etowah River again but this time rather than look for a monstrous striped bass, we had a unique quest – find me my first ever redeye bass (Micopterus coosae). This unique smallish bass looks like a baby smallmouth bass at first but the redeye bass rarely exceeds 12”. There are some slight visual differences as well such as the lower margins of the tail are edged in white and the males often have some turquoise color in their throat and cheek. I tied on a Ben Byng popper.
It was yet another stunning morning in Georgia. The sun rose bright and the temperature rose steadily. It was extra special because my jaw wasn’t ringing in pain. Don’t get me wrong, I had a root canal yesterday so there’s some discomfort but nothing like I dealt with for a week.
We were on a lower Etowah River section today and we motored upstream for thirty minutes. There was a tremendous variety of hatches going off and as we organized ourselves at the base of a long riffle I couldn’t help but notice some rises. “What do you suppose those rising fish are”, I asked.
“Could be goldeye. Maybe shad? Actually, I’m not sure what the heck they are. We don’t see them often”, Conner replied.
By now I was cutting off my Ben Byng popper and then Conner graciously handed me a parachute Adams. On my first drift I hooked up and a small silver fish shot into the air. It wasn’t exactly followed by a monster fight however it was scrappy considering the fishes size. Within seconds I landed my first ever mooneye (Hiodon tergisus) on the fly. An unexpected species for my list!
The three of us took turns knocking back several mooneye before tying the popper back on. Then we proceeded to drift down in casting reach of the banks. We targeted the calmer sections anywhere we could see submerged trees and brush. Soon I was admiring my first ever redeye bass.
We caught a bunch of redeye, spotted bass and the occasional bluegill. We hoped to set up on some smallmouth buffalo but we never got the chance. We even saw what Conner thought was a banded queen snake. The colorful reptile leapt off the bank and swam along with us but we never got close enough for a good look.
We pulled off the river at around 1:30 PM. The reason for the early departure was for the real reason I came to Georgia. That is to work. Michael and I headed for Atlanta and tonight I delivered “Trout Bumming the World” to the Atlanta Fly Fishing Club. You’d suspect it was hard to talk 24 hours after a root canal. It was. But once I told everyone why the drool was going down my chin most of them understood.