Want a nice get-away to the mountains for some scenery, cool air and fishing? I just got back from a few days around Blairsville and Lake Nottely. On the trip I ate some good food, looked at scenic views and fished for bass. And I was constantly having flashback memories of my youth.
All the years I was in elementary school, grades one through eight back then, my family went on summer vacation for a week in the mountains. We would load up the 54 Bel Air – and later the 1962 Bel Air – and head north from Dearing. All the roads were two lane back then and it was a slow, enjoyable trip.
Each night we would stay in a cheap roadside motel, four of us in one room, and eat at a local diner. Daddy insisted on country food just like we ate at home no matter how much I wanted a hamburger or hotdog. At lunch we would stop at a picnic table, often right beside the road but sometimes at a scenic overlook, and mama would make sandwiches.
My most vivid memory of lunches is not about the food. We always had Cokes in small bottles back then. I picked up mine for a swig and didn’t notice the yellow jacket on the mouth of the bottle. It took exception to being pressed against my lip and, after the burning sting eased a bit, I swelled up for two days!
The roadside attractions back then were not politically correct. At many you could buy a nickel Coke or candy bar and give it to a chained bear cub to drink and eat. I never wondered what happened to those cubs when they got too big, the owners probably ate them.
I learned about scams on one of those trips. A sign said give the owner a nickel and he would open the lid of a box cage and let you see the baby rattler and copperhead inside.
Sure enough, there was a baby shake rattle toy and a penny inside.
I loved the mountain streams and lakes but we never stayed in one place long enough for me to fish. But the year I was eight we changed our plans and I could not wait for my dream trip.
My family and another family, close friends, rented a cabin at Vogel State Park for a week. It was right beside a small stream that had trout in it, and only a couple hundred yards from the lake.
The other couple had a baby girl and she had colic. Her loud crying kept me up all night and almost ruined the trip. That is when I decided I never wanted kids of my own!
One morning before daylight I put on my overalls, slipped out of the cabin without waking anyone, picked up my cane pole and can of worms and headed to the lake. Where the stream entered it several row boats for rent were chained up. One was half full of water with its back end in the lake.
I sat on the edge of that boat for a couple hours as it got light, catching small bream, yellow perch and trout with live earthworms. I put my fish in the end of the boat that was full of water and it was supposed to work like a livewell.
Mama came hustling down the path to the cabin calling my name. When they woke and I was not there they panicked and went looking for me. Mama found me after she asked two teenage girls out walking if they had seen a kid.
Apparently they answered that yes, Huckleberry Finn was fishing down by the lake the lake! I guess that fit me with my bare feet, overalls and straw hat!
Many things have changed, you will not see chained bear cubs or baby rattlers. But a trip is still fun and fishing is good on Nottely and other area lakes.
My trip was to go out with guide Will Harkins and get information for my June Georgia Outdoor News article. Although Will is in college he is a great fisherman and knows Nottely and Chatuge well.
I stayed in a nice fifth wheel camping trailer through brooksiderv.com in a retirement camper community. It was cheaper than area motels and more comfortable and quieter than a motel would have been. It was only a few miles from Nottely and Blairsville.
About a mile from the camper and Nottely Dam is Papaw’s Bac-yard BBQ where I got some of the best brisket I have ever eaten, delicious and tender enough to cut with a fork. He has a wide variety of sauces and his Brunswick Stew was very good, too.
Next door at the Amish Store some interesting jelly is available. Frog jelly is fig, raspberry, orange and ginger. Toe Jam is tangerine, orange and elderberry. Traffic jam is mostly strawberry for some reason. There are also many other things, from furniture to funny signs, for sale too.
The first night I drove into Blairsville and ate at Mike’s Seafood. The scallops were delicious, cooked just right, and the bite of grilled tuna I tried was excellent. I always like walking into a place like Mike’s and see you order at the fresh seafood counter.
I planned on eating there on Saturday night before I left. Although Google Maps said they got less busy after 8:00 PM, an hour before the close, at 8:00 that night the wait to order was 90 minutes!!
Sicily’s Pizza & Subs Pasta was just down the street and there was no wait. The pizza I got was great but it was not the scallops I wanted! Till next time – Gone fishing!