Smith And Wesson Forums banner
1 - 1 of 1 Posts

26,128 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·

by Doug Painter | Jan 7, 2021 | FISHING, FRESHWATER
A Winter Wonderland…For Anglers That Is

Headwaters on the Soque in northeast Georgia is an exceptional trophy trout lodge to visit during the winter months without jetting off to a distant land.
For most all trout bums on the East coast, winter is a time when rods have been put up in the rack and waders have been hung, if not merrily, in the garage. In pre-pandemic times, of course, the dedicated angler could “flip the season” and fly off to New Zealand or Patagonia about now and continue to enjoy world-class trout fishing.

Unfortunately, that’s not much of an option right now. So, are we relegated to re-arranging our fly boxes in the dark months ahead? If we wish to wet a line, is there somewhere we can go that doesn’t involve jetting off to a distant land?

You bet there is: the Headwaters on the Soque is an exceptional trophy trout lodge that’s an easy two hour drive from Atlanta. Located in the north east corner of Georgia, just below the Chattahoochee National forest, the lodge is no more than a day’s drive from just about anywhere in the Southeast or the Mid-Atlantic states. If you don’t mind getting on an airplane, you can, of course, fly non-stop to Atlanta from just about anywhere.

The author poses with a nice five-pound rainbow trout from the Soque.

I like to think of the Soque as a boutique river, more of a stream really – about the width of a two-car garage – that flows only some 28 miles before it enters the Chattahoochee River. Here, in the protected watershed of the national forest, this limestone-spring fed creek meanders through land whose owners have long been fine stewards of these pristine waters. This valley has been home to the Lovell family for three generations and current family head, Mark Lovell, has put together 650 acres that encompass the Soque’s headwaters and a stretch of four miles of this river downstream. Mark, as only a true local could quip, notes that, “Ted Turner owns the next two miles.”

During the years of the Great Depression, Mark’s grandfather, Virgil, faced a difficult road ahead. He learned, however, that the water from the limestone springs that feed the river has an especially low PH factor, apparently ideal for making hard spirits – moonshine that is. The family business soon took off and for years was a profitable enterprise for the Lovell clan.

Mark grew up right on the river and now devotes much of his time care-taking this remarkable fishery and developing a first-class lodge working with John Burrell’s High Adventure Company. The lodge is but a minute or two from the river which is a classic trout stream of a series of deep, dark pools interspersed with some faster water and riffled sections.
The water in the upper section of the river stays cold enough through the summer to support a healthy, wild trout population. These fish grow old, they grow wary…and they grow big. You can expect fish in the two- to four-pound class with some regularity and there are fish in the river that are much, much heftier than that.

More than once, I’ve hooked a Soque rainbow that shrugged its shoulders and then simply blew out of town leaving me with nothing but a sob story and some rapped knuckles. Leave the dainty three and four-weight rods at home and bring a strong six-weight with a reel that has a high-quality drag system. No kidding.

The lodge has a maximum capacity of six anglers, perfect for the family or a few friends with whom you normally hang around. I fished with three of my golf buddies the week before Christmas. We had the lodge to ourselves and enjoyed great meals cooked by Mark himself. Guides George McMillan and Charles “Chuck” Heard are locals with years of experience on the river and great guys with whom to spend a day on the water. We drifted tiny nymphs with a bead fly about two feet up the tippet.

During our stay, temperatures in the mid-morning and afternoon were in the mid to high 40s. It can be warmer than that but the area can also have some freezing temps when a cold front drops down. Keep an eye on the long range forecasts.

Sure, we all look forward to once again traveling to those great rivers at the ends of the earth. Travel to remote regions of the world is often its own reward, and distant waters beckon to the adventurous spirit in all of us. We should keep in mind, though, how often it is the case that we find true love with the girl next door.
1 - 1 of 1 Posts