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Spring marks stream reading season
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0312FISHINGaud

Johnna Tuttle, interpretive ranger for Smithgall Woods-Dukes Creek Conservation Area in Helen, talks about Saturday's "Flies and Fly Water" event.

Flies and Fly Water

What: A class on the basics of fly fishing and how to tie flies
When: 9:30 a.m.-noon Saturday
Where: Smithgall Woods-Dukes Creek Conservation Area, 61 Tsalaki Trail, Helen
Admission: Free, but parking costs $3
Contact: 706-878-3087

Tired of books, the Internet and maybe just the indoors in general? Try getting out and "reading" one of North Georgia's many streams.

Mitchel Barrett will demonstrate that technique Saturday as part of "Flies and Fly Water," a class on the basics of fly fishing and how to tie flies, at Smithgall Woods-Dukes Creek Conservation Area in Helen.

"I get in the stream and people that are in my class follow a trail up beside the stream," he said. "And while I'm fishing, I stop and tell them why I'm doing what I'm doing - what I'm looking for and the purpose for the different things I do."

Barrett, 59, who has been fishing in Dukes Creek since he was 10 and lives two miles from the conservation area, said he can look at a pool of water and "tell where the fish are and what kind of fly to use, what kind of cast to make ... there's a whole lot of things involved with it."

Novice or experienced anglers can take the class, which has no charge other than a $3 parking fee.

The day starts at 9:30 a.m. with a computerized presentation on the brook trout, which fill the stream along with rainbow and brown trout, said Johnna Tuttle, interpretive ranger for the conservation area.

"Most people, when they fish here, catch rainbows and we do have some big ones - the largest one we've gotten here is 28 inches," she said.

After about 10 a.m., the class will break into several groups receiving different types of instruction, in addition to stream reading.

One group will stand in a field and learn to cast into a hoop, which serves as the fly's "target," Tuttle said.

"And then we have another station set up for ‘fly time,' (where) people can learn how to make the ties or at least see how they are made," she said. "And we do have people who fish with both dry and wet flies in Duke's Creek."

The event is set to end at noon.

"This is a popular class and we're getting close to the numbers on attendance," Tuttle said.

Ideally, the class can accommodate 25 to 30 people, "but there are people who don't show up and a few extras that do, so it usually balances out."

Barrett said the class will benefit those wanting to take part in the activity that is a sport for some and passion for others.

"But it would really fit better for someone who has been fly fishing for a while and just needs to learn a little bit more," he said.

The class is well timed, Barrett added, "because right now is the time to get ready to start fishing."

"In fact, right now is the time to fish," he said, with a laugh.

And the way Barrett describes it, North Georgia is a fly fishing paradise, with its vast network of scenic mountain streams.

"There is a tremendous amount of fly fishing within two hours of Cleveland," he said. "And you can be up in North Carolina ... and Tennessee in a short period of time."

Fly fishing isn't a year-round pastime, however.

"When the water gets low and (the weather) gets hot, it gets hard," Barrett said.

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