Guy Harvey Magazine

SPR 2017

Guy Harvey Magazine is focused on fishing, boating, scuba diving, and marine conservation. Portfolios from the world's best fishing photographers, articles on gear, travel, tournaments, apparel, lifestyle, seafood recipes, sustainable fisheries.

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80 | www.GuyHarveyMagazine.com HOOKED ON LAKE HARTWELL For the past 25 years, Fred D. Garth's articles have appeared in numerous books, magazines and newspapers around the world. Read his blog at: GuyHarveyMagazine.com FRED GARTH LAST CAST I grew up in a little northwest Georgia mountain town where the waitresses at the diner called everybody Honey and said stuff like, "Ya gits grits with them scrambled aygs, Honey." This was proud hillbilly country and near the Chattooga River where the famous canoe scenes in the movie Deliverance were filmed. Sidenote: The banjo player was my neighbor. Not really. As a young Boy Scout, I visited a stunning place along the Chattooga River called Tallula Gorge where I slid down a giant slimy rock, buck naked. I earned the little known Butt Rash merit badge that day. Nowadays, the Chattooga is wildly popular for whitewater kayakers and is the headwaters for Lake Hartwell, which forms the border between Georgia and South Carolina and offers up some of the best freshwater fishing on the planet. Scads of rabid fisherman come to Hartwell to catch crappie and bass of multiple varieties such as largemouth, spotted, hybrid and striped. There is no butt rash bass that I know of. Back then, when I was young and stupid as opposed to old and ridiculously weird, I was more into jumping off high bridges and climbing crumbling rock cliffs than fishing, but I did get some early and critically vital knowledge of a lowly, disrespected lake fish. One day, three of us were hanging out on a rock outcropping when we saw a humongous golden blur lumbering along below the surface. It appeared to be a giant carp or quite possibly a yellowish submarine piloted by tiny subhumans from the Netherworld. My buddy Bubba (yes, everyone in Georgia had a best friend named Bubba) jumped up and uttered those now, infamous words, "Watch this boys." And with that, he leapt off the ledge and plunged toward the fish and/or submarine below. It soon became clear that the giant thing was definitely a carp rising to the surface to gulp a bug. When the fish/human collision occurred, Bubba squealed and somehow the carp slithered away faster than Ricky Bobby at Darlington, yet with one less dorsal fin spine that was now lodged in the arch of Bubba's calloused foot. If you've never seen a carp's dorsal fin, it has sharp, serrated spines. And, while Bubba's foot was tougher than a bull's hoof, the arch was marshmallowy soft. It took a real live doctor to cut the carp part from Bubba's foot and months for it to heal. Bubba was so overwhelmed with thankfulness that he eventually changed his name to Nathan and went on to become a celebrated podiatrist with a thriving practice in Myrtle Beach. So some good came from an asinine stunt. Lake Hartwell went on to gain fame as well, as one of the best bass fishing lakes in the country. In 2008, the Bassmaster Classic was held there and as far back as 1973, another South Carolina lake just downstream, Clark's Hill Reservoir, was host to the Classic. Known as the Super Bowl of Bass Fishing, the tournament returned to Hartwell again 2015, and it was recently announced that the 2018 event will be headquartered in Greenville, S.C. From March 16-18, anglers will zoom around the 56,000-acre lake hunting for lunkers. In the 2015 tourney, homegrown South Carolinian Casey Ashley won the first place prize of $300,000. His home lake? Hartwell. Little did our tiny brains figure back then that Lake Hartwell would become bass fishing Shangri La. If only we could have predicted the future, I'd have bought some land and built a little fishing lodge with a restaurant where we'd serve a special sandwich called Bubba's Carpburgers. Lake Hartwell went on to gain fame as well, as one of the best bass fishing lakes in the country.

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