But, after seeing a sign on Riverside Parkway, the two decided to stop by the Rome-Floyd E.C.O. River Education Center and see what was going on. Once there, Graham took the opportunity to teach Donnally how to cast a fly-fishing rod.
“It’s a lot harder than it looks,” said Donnally. “They make it look easy and it’s not nearly that easy to do at all.”
Graham explained that fly fishing is all in the technique — learning how to cast the line far back enough, but not too far, before flipping it forward in the stream. It takes practice and concentration in order to get all the wrist movements right, he said, but once the technique is learned it becomes second nature.
Whether it was learning how to cast a fly fishing rod correctly, or learning about what kind of outdoor gear is available for people, there was plenty for all to do at the Trout Expo.
But organizers including Paul Diprima said they hoped one main message got through: the importance of protecting the trout and the habitats in which they live.
“Before people get here, all they think we do is fish,” Diprima said. “But that’s not all that we do. We’re out there helping to improve and recondition the habitats that the trout live in, so that we not only have fish but we have good fish who can take care of themselves.”
One of the biggest goals for Trout Unlimited is protecting the streams and watersheds where the brook trout, the native species to Georgia, can once again thrive. Over the past eight years, Diprima said, the organization has made some strides.
Kevin McGrath, who is an executive committee member for the statewide organization, said the group works with partners such as the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Forest Service to build stream habitats and to remove non-native species like rainbow and brown trout from streams and other waterways.
“The population of brook trout is stable in Georgia,” McGrath said. “And in the eight years that we’ve worked on it, it’s taken a lot to do.”
Diprima said membership in the organization is also on the rise, and currently the organization is working to bring in more members at a discounted rate. Visit their website at coosavalleytu.org for more information on how to join the chapter.