Meet Chris Loizeaux, local fly shop owner and guide, who claims fishing is more about the journey and not the destination.
CS: Where is your favorite lake or river to fish?
CL: North Chickamauga Creek. Not only is it close by, but it also has such an amazingly diverse fish population. From Greenway Farms to the Blue Hole in Soddy Daisy, you’ve got great warm-fishing all year-round. If I want to chase trout and gorgeous scenery, I love going to the Caney Fork River, Hiwassee River, and various other streams and creeks throughout East Tennessee and North Georgia.
CS: What do you primarily catch?
CL: The Chickamauga Lake and Tennessee River have some of the greatest warm-water fishing in the South. We catch everything from largemouth and smallmouth bass to stripers, freshwater drum, skipjack (better known as the Tennessee tarpon), crappie, and a multitude of bream (bluegill). When we go to the mountains and tailwaters (cold water released from dams), we target rainbow, brown, and brook trout primarily.
CS: What’s your favorite time of year to fish?
CL: You’d be hardpressed to find a fly angler that doesn’t love the fall. The weather can be spectacular and the fish are rising. However, one of the nicest seasons to get out in is the winter, because it’s too cold for everyone but a few crazy fly anglers, so you usually have the place to yourself.
CS: Do you prefer to fish alone or with a few friends?
CL: I love to go to the river with friends, but I spread out and fish alone for the majority of the time. Hanging out streamside or helping a buddy net a fish on occasion is always gonna be good, but having 50 yards of river to fish alone is a great thing, while still being able to see your friends nearby.
CS: What’s the best catch you’ve ever had? What made the memory so great?
CL: While I’ve caught some great fish, I probably remember the days more than the fish. I guess that’s the whole “it’s the journey, not the destination” cliché, but it’s true. I remember lying in a field in Montana, upstream from a moose and downstream from a herd of deer, looking up at the mountains overhead, pondering what the heck these fish wanted and reminding myself to not be frustrated with a slow morning of fishing. I remember the otters scaring the fish out of my fishing hole, and I remember the insects hatching in the evening. I remember the fly I picked out. I remember casting and the trout rising to my fly. I remember my friend landing the trout in the net for me, but that specific Montana rainbow trout is a vague memory.
CS: What tips and tricks can you share with new anglers?
CL: Fly fishing is much easier than you probably think, and it’s not just chasing trout.
CS: What’s your favorite way to cook a fresh catch?
CL: I rarely keep my catches. If I do keep a rainbow trout, I’ll gut it and cook it in olive oil, with a sliver of lemon, sea salt, and a sprig of rosemary inside it.