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Most serious fishermen probably think of one fish when they think of Georgia fishing: George Perry’s 22-pound, 4-ounce largemouth bass. However, while deciding when and where to fish for my trip, Shane Watson’s site ( sold me on targeting trophy freshwater stripers on Lake Lanier near Gainesville, Georgia. Shane was inducted into the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in 2010 and I was very fortunate to fish with him personally.

I caught my first striper (a 34-inch, 17-pounder) within 30 seconds of putting the bait in the water, giving Georgia the distinction of being the quickest state completed. (Ohio would later tie this record for quickness.) I caught eight more stripers after that, with the longest being 35 inches and the heaviest three being 20, 20, and 22 pounds. (Georgia’s minimum for an Angler Award is 25 pounds or 36 inches, so I just missed the latter criteria by one inch.) Of the nine stripers I caught, all but two were between 33 and 35 inches. I also caught four spotted bass, with the longest being 19 inches. The excellent fishing coupled with the beautiful 75-degree Georgia weather made for a fantastic trip.

Update November 2017: Since the birth of my son, I have been spending a lot more time at home and a lot less time fishing. However, I still try to get out once in a while, and in November 2017 I decided to head to north Georgia to tangle with some of their famously massive trout. I was definitely not disappointed. I had one of the best trips of my life with George MacMillan of Unicoi Outfitters ( I caught over 50 rainbow trout, including an incredible five fish that met or exceeded the 20-inch minimum necessary for a Georgia Angler Award. Georgia became the 37th state in which I have caught at least one trophy, and only the second in which I have caught a trophy on a fly rod. George is an excellent guide and I have him to thank for both putting me on and coaching me through these truly amazing trophy rainbows.

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