"“Many men go fishing their entire lives without knowing it is not fish they are after.” - Henry David Thoreau"

It is difficult to truly understand this quote if one has never gone fishing, especially fly fishing. The gentlemen at Cohutta Fishing Co. have begun to grasp the implications of such a statement and have a passion to share that with as many people as possible. After talking with owner Andy Bowen, store manager Conner Jones, and head guide Garner Reid, I began to decipher what Thoreau might have meant and what is found in a winding mountain stream besides trout.

For Connor Jones, much of the draw to fly fishing is the exploratory nature of it, not only in locations he travels to but in hooking elusive species that not many other fishermen are going after. In a day, you can go up into the mountains to find trout, travel down and search out spotted bass, red eye, and striper, or take a four hour trip to the coast and hook some muskie.

Conner also leads the monthly fly tying lessons held in the shop. Fly tying is a very creative process that consists of an angler trying to replicate what a fish eats. Depending on the fisherman, that can be more abstract by making up your own color combinations and feather embellishments or more representational of actual food sources.

To get people started in this craft, he hosts a $50, 4-6 hour beginner course every other month, focusing on four basic patterns for trout than can be the starting point for endless possibilities. For the more experienced, a $100 class builds off of Conner’s own patterns and focuses more on what the students are interested in learning, whether that be salt water, predatory flies, advanced trout patterns, or something else. All materials are included in the cost, and you will definitely learn a great deal about the sport as well as meet some great people.

Store owner Andy Bowen has been fishing since he was a kid running around the Georgia farm where he grew up. Since then, he’s run the gambit on every kind of fishing from conventional bass fishing to fly. Andy says the most important thing to know about fly fishing is that there is always more to learn. His passion for fishing comes from the fact that the sport is a conduit to get out into nature. This is a key detail that many young fishermen forget.

If there’s any doubt about the staff’s knowledge about fishing, all you have to do is book a trip and see for yourself; you won’t be disappointed. Garner Reid, the lead guide, told me about the experience of a Cohutta Fishing Co. guided trip. The diversity of fishing that the southeast offers is larger than anywhere else in the country.

"The diversity of fishing that the southeast offers is larger than anywhere else in the country."

An hour north of Cohutta, you can fish trout on a two-mile section of the Chattahoochee River to which only Cohutta Fishing Co. clients have It’s nice to catch fish, but if that’s your sole drive, you will soon burn out and lose the enthusiasm you once had. Having the gratitude to just get out on the river whether with friends or in the stillness alone is the secret to enjoying yourself regardless of if the fish are biting or not. Once you learn that, you start to realize how fishing can teach you about life outside of the river.
access. Or you can stay local and chase all kinds of bass on the Etowah or other local streams.

This isn’t merely a job for Garner; it’s been a way of life since Conner Jones and he would “blue line” all over Georgia as teenagers. Blue lining is a term used to describe when you search out all of the blue lines on a topographical map indicating creeks, streams, and rivers.

Becoming a guide was a natural progression for him since he’s always taken friends out and taught them the basics of fly fishing, and he’s only continued to learn from experience and each of his clients. So whether you want to bushwhack to an obscure honey hole or take a relaxing float down the Etowah River, Cohutta Fishing Co. offers a trip for everyone.

Cohutta Fishing Co. also offers a travel service to the best locations in the world. You can book your bucket list trip and not worry about the smaller details. Cohutta Travel sets you up with the best hosts around the globe and some of the most unique fishing experiences possible from Montana to Belize. So whatever you have in mind, get in touch with Andy through their website and see how Cohutta can help you get to the destination of your dreams.

The evolution of this fly shop really does embody what Thoreau meant when he said that men aren’t just searching for fish in a stream; perhaps they are searching for experience, for genuine adventure. After picking the brains of the Cohutta staff, I’ve come to realize that, though it’s simple, fly fishing is a beautiful metaphor for humans innate need for a battle to fight and an adventure to have.

It has never been about the fish.