Was it a sunken log or a clever fish?
For Charles Prickett, it will forever be “the one that got away.”
Prickett can’t describe the fish that tugged on his line, sending him snapping up to reel it in. He never got to see it. “It either wrapped me around something below the water, or crossed the fly. It was fighting there for a little bit ... or I could’ve hooked onto a log or something. The way the wind is blowing, you don’t know if you’ve stayed in one spot or not, like you would if you hooked a log,” said Prickett, who recently learned how to fly fish.
Over the weekend, Prickett and sons Ken and Kerry were students at a two-day fly fishing school offered through Kingfisher Outfitters at Callaway Gardens.
Callaway’s fly-fishing program offers several types of guided trips and private instruction year-round for novice, intermediate and advanced fishing enthusiasts.
The two-day school, taught by certified casting and fly-fishing instructors, is held one weekend a month and includes classroom time and a guided fishing trip.
Ken and Kerry signed their dad up for the course to celebrate his 75th birthday.
All three are pharmacists with businesses around Birmingham, Ala., and share an affinity for the outdoors, Charles said. “We work together, we see each other all the time but not in this type of atmosphere. I don’t think we’ve talked about the business at all since we arrived Friday night,” Charles said. “This place is so beautiful it makes you relax.”
“Of course it’s always more exciting if you catch a fish,” said son Kerry. “But being outdoors is very relaxing, a good way to relieve stress and think about what really matters in life.”
The Prickett’s were part of a small group taught by Kent Edmonds and Rusty Frasier. On Day One, the students learned about equipment, knot-tying, entomology, how to cast a line, types of fishing flies, fish anatomy and the stratification of lakes and streams. On day two, the students headed out to one of Callaway’s 13 lakes to see stratification firsthand, which helps them identify types of currents, what affects currents and how to overcome them when casting because “fish won’t take a fly that isn’t drifting normally,” said Roy Olinger, a fly-fishing guide and instructor.
After breaking for lunch, they geared up for a trip to Lower Falls Creek Lake, also known as Chapel Lake, for an afternoon of fly-fishing.
The students donned waders and flippers and loaded onto float tubes.
Using a rubber-legged dragonfly, Eddie Kirkland made the first catch of the day when he hooked a 14-inch rainbow trout in the middle of the lake less than half an hour after hitting the water. After posing for a photo, Kirkland put the fish back in the water.
With the exception of Mountain Creek Lake, the lakes at Callaway are catch-and-release. Mountain Creek Lake, the largest on the grounds at 175 acres, allows fisherman to keep a limited number of fish but asks them to release all bass measuring 17 inches and larger to keep the fish populations self-sustaining. The lakes contain varieties of bream and largemouth bass. Rainbow, brown and brook trout are stocked seasonally in mid-November.
Instructors said the busiest fly-fishing season at Callaway is March through July so whether you’re an experienced fly fisherman or new to the craft, now is the time to get out on the water.
What should you bring?
Fly-fishing gear will be provided, but to keep your trip comfortable, I recommend bringing a ball cap or wide-brimmed hat, water bottle, sunscreen, sunglasses, rain gear, appropriate outdoor clothing and an extra set of clothes in case you get wet.
TWO-DAY FLY FISHING SCHOOL
To sign up, call Kingfisher Outfitters at Callaway Gardens, 706-663-5142.
Fly-Fishing at Callaway
Rates include equipment rental, waders and float tubes. Lunch is included for full- day trips, full-day instruction and two-day schools. For half-day trips, a boxed lunch may be provided upon request for $10 per person.
1/2-day guided fly-fishing trip
$195 for up to two people
Full-day guided trip
$295 for up to two people
Full-day private instruction
$295 for up to two people
$50 per person
Casting lesson with guided trip
$25 per person
2-hour fly-tying lesson
$45 per person
2-day fly fishing school
$295 per person