NGTO finally has a new good read! Thanks to Jim Lowry, author of The Boys of Cohutta and President of the Colquitt Regional Medical Center, we have obtained the rights to publish some of the journal entries from the book. For information on purchasing The Boys of Cohutta, please see the information at the end of this entry. This is Chapter One
The Boys of Cohutta, A Trout Fisherman's Journal - May 1978, THE FIRST TRIPRobert Duggan and I left Moultrie, Georgia, about 5:00 a.m. Our plan was to locate Robert's trout stream that he had seen on his last backpacking trip in North Georgia, near the town of Dahlonega. When we got to Dahlonega, we were unable to find the roads that would lead us to the trail and the trout stream. After some discussion, we went to a ranger's station and asked about backpacking and trout fishing. They gave us a map and suggested that we head to the Cohutta Wilderness.
We did. A few hours later we were heading up a dirt road toward Betty's gap. We arrived at Betty's gap about 3:00 pm. There was a parking space beside the road. We changed into our hiking clothes grabbed our packs and started down the trail.
Betty's trail ran down an old creek bed. It did not take long before our feet were wet. When you walk down a mountain it is a lot easier than walking up a mountain; however, there is a lot of pressure on the front of your toes. Good hiking boots are essential. We did not have good hiking boots in 1978, only good tennis shoes.
It took us about one hour to reach the Conasauga River. It was crystal clear. It was everything a trout stream was supposed to be. This was the first and last time we did this, but we took off our tennis shoes and waded the stream bare footed carrying a 40-lb pack. Real smart!
In the map we received from the rangers, the map mentioned flash floods. There were rain clouds in the sky. We decided to pitch camp on the other side of the creek.
Since it was getting late, Robert set about putting up the tent and I went up stream to catch supper. (In South Georgia there is breakfast, dinner and supper.) The first cast produced a small trout about seven inches. I was using a cricket, No. 10 fish hook, on a four lb. test line with a small lead weight about eight inches from the hook. I would flip the cricket into the rapids and let the current carry the cricket down. After about an hour, I had caught three trout. Not a lot, but enough.
When I returned, Robert had set up camp and had a fire going. Since I had been wading in the stream and had wet shoes, the fire felt good.
For supper that night, we had fried trout, potatoes, hush-puppies and lemons and lemonade. Later, we had whiskey for dessert.
That night it rained, and rained, and rained.
Flash floods were on both our minds.
It began to thunder and lighting. Once when a huge bolt of lighting struck, both Robert and I sat straight up in our sleeping bags. Many times, I don't know how many, I got out of my bag and went down to the creek. I wanted to know if it was rising. I would stick a peg at the water's edge. The next time I would see how much water covered the peg.
This would give me some data on the rising water conditions. Robert slept in his bag. The rain bothered me more than him. When I pulled out the big hunting knife, this bothered him.
"Jim what are you going to do with that knife."
"Robert, if a flash flood comes down the mountain side, and the water ffips this tent over. I want to know were my knife is so I can cut my way out of this tent."
"Jim,- let me see if I have this straight. A flood come, flips the tent over. I'm rolling around in my sleeping bag, inside a dark tent with a crazy man with a eight- inch bowie knife trying to cut his way out of the tent, is that right?"
"I think you got it, Robert."
"Good night Jim."
"Good night Robert."
The next day was beautiful, I showed Robert how to rig his fishing pole. Showed him how to fish the rapids. I did not mention the snake. Robert hates snakes. Put him on the stream about 100 yards from the camp. I went down the stream about 300 yards and began fishing.
That night at camp, Robert had six trout. I had zero. I did not understand this. I was the great fisherman, not Robert.
That night we had fried trout, potatoes, hush-puppies, lemon and lemonade. We had whiskey for dessert. After you catch the fish, the menu is easy.
The next day both Robert and I caught fish. We took time to explore the river and view the forest. I took a lot of pictures of streams, rocks, small waterfalls, fallen trees with moss growing on them. This was a great trip.
We left the next day. I think we may come back - maybe next year.
If you are interested in purchasing a copy of The Boys of Cohutta send $8.00 to:
Colquitt Regional Medical Center
All proceeds from the sale of the book go to the Colquitt Regional Medial Foundation