I enjoyed trout fishing in the North Georgia Mountains. In the sixties and seventies, the mountains were still pristine and there were a few trout streams with native brown trout. These streams were extremely difficult to find and even more difficult to get to. I had two trusted companions with whom I generally fished. One was a 1968 Chevrolet Malibu station wagon. That was undoubtedly the best car I ever owned. I went places in that car that had only seen jeeps before. We even took her to the top of Stone Mountain before the mountain was developed. When we crested the mountain there was an Army signal corps unit. All they could do was gape. The other companion was Creepy Clark. Creepy was called that not because of physical appearance, but because of the stealth with which he moved. Creepy could briskly walk from one point to another without stirring the air through which he passed. He knew every trout stream in North Georgia. He also knew how to tie a fly that matched every hatch for any season.
We usually left Atlanta well before sunrise, drove into the mountains, found our stream, got on our waders, rigged our fly rods and off we went in search of one of God’s great gifts to mankind.
By noon, we each usually had two or three keepers. If the morning had been successful, we climbed out of the stream, found a spot where the sun shone through the trees, stretched out and ate our lunch. I took Vienna sausages, potted meat, and crackers. Creepy always took those large sized mustard packed sardines. I liked them too, but Creepy ate his in an usual way. He would pack up his jaw with a sizeable chunk of Red Man chewing tobacco. When he had a good chaw going, he would pop a sardine in his mouth.
Chewing tobacco was not my poison of choice, I took my poison through a white paper tube encasing chopped tobacco, and no, it wasn’t marijuana, My chewing experience ended one night when were at dinner with friends and my good buddy, Dusty Roads challenged me to chew while we ate stuffed grape leaves. I had to ride home on the passenger’s side and ruined the side of our brand new 1975 Chrysler. Dog house. Being a smoker and not a chewer, I never tried Creepy’s concoction, but he swore it was heavenly hash.
One of our favorite fishing spots for rainbow trout was the Chattooga River, the same river where they made the movie, “Deliverance.” Yes, there were people just like the movie depicted in those mountains and if you were an outsider they were quite capable of hurting you. The rape scene in the movie was way overboard and a total exaggeration but there was still a great deal of moonshining and since strangers could be revenuers, there was open season on them. We were never in danger, however, since I simply had to mention my Grandpa’s name. The name Albert Wiggins carried a lot of juice throughout North Georgia. Grandpa Wiggins was highly regarded because of his reputation as being an honest, good man. He built many houses all over the mountains and was very generous in allowing great leeway in paying him. There are still houses standing that Grandpa built, designated historical landmarks.
We loved fishing the Chattooga because Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina stocked it and it always provided us generous catches.
Occasionally when Creepy couldn’t go because his wife had him hogtied requiring him to perform some meaningless chore like repairing a hole in the roof over the baby’s bed. I would take Horace Blathwaite with me.
Horace was a thoroughgoing city boy. His only experience in the woods was messing with his daddy’s golf clubs. Horace had a wandering eye. No one was certain which eye wandered since looking him in the face was utterly confusing. You never knew whether he was looking at you or looking at some other place in the room.
Horace had shoulder length hair and I convinced him that it was open season in the North Georgia Mountains for men who had long hair. I laughed to the point of tears as he diligently attempted to tuck his thick mane under a baseball cap.
Once on the way to Coleman creek, the place with brownies (brown trout) we had walked a couple of miles up a trail. I lingered behind to take care of some personal business while Horace walked on ahead. I had turned off the trail and when I turned back, I saw an unholy terror. A huge timber rattlesnake was stretched across the trail just a couple of feet ahead of Horace. It must have been six feet long, but was lethargic from lying in the sun. I shouted to Horace, “Freeze”. Without question he did.
I always carried my long barrel 38 caliber pistol on my hip. I drew it, took careful aim, pulled the trigger, and separated the body of the snake from its head. As snakes do when separated from their heads, it started to writhe violently. I’m not sure whether it was the writhing snake two feet in front of him, or the gun shot, but Horace screamed at the top of his lungs, jumped three fee in the air and bathed himself in urine.
Knowing that our fishing was over for the day and not wanting the day to be a bust. I gutted the snake, put it over my shoulder (after it stopped squirming), carefully picked up the snake’s head, and put it in my creel. Snake’s heads can still bite after being cut off.
When we got home, I skinned the snake, stripped the meat, battered and fried it for dinner. My wife and children loved it until I told them what it was after dinner was done.
I rolled the skin and put it in the freezer until I had time to clean it for drying. The head went into a plastic container then into the freezer until my wife discovered it. It then went into the garbage and once again, I changed my address to the dog house which by this time was quite plush. I stopped the dog from sleeping in it after I got fleas during a previous visit.
Copyrighted © 2010 by Jack deJarnette