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Fishing in Georgia

Georgia, also known as the Republic of Georgia, is an Eastern European country in the Caucasus region. Situated at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, it is bordered on the west by the Black Sea, to the North by Russia, to the south by Turkey and Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. Georgia covers a territory of 69,700 square kilometres (26,911 sq mi), and its population is about 3.718 million. One could imagine that Georgia is much like a Mediterranean country. But Georgia is a mix between western and eastern culture, and cannot be placed in either basket. That is what fascinated many travelers in the early nineteen hundreds and drew artists and writers from all corners of the world to Tbilisi; the multicultural capitol. Now Georgia is torn between the western influence, mainly USA, and their traditional relations to Russia. Because Georgia is mostly situated in the Caucasus region, the landscape throughout the country is quite varied. Western Georgia’s landscape varies from lowland marshes and forests, swamps, and temperate forests to snows and glaciers, while eastern Georgia has much of the same with even some arid plains. Forests cover roughly 40% of the country, while alpine zones cover around 10%. Because of its high landscape diversity, the country is home to many different animal and fish species, which is good news for the avid angler.

The variety of waters across Georgia means a very large assortment of game fish, with the most popular being the trout that inhabit the mountain rivers. But the carp is another plentiful game fish in the country, and can be found in many places. Most lakes have them, and the locals love the fish. In Racha region, more precisely in lake Shaori they have caught carp up to 10 kilo according to the locals. Despite not being the most popular fish species throughout the world, carp can give a good fight and the people do eat it. Another species found in Georgia is the wels catfish. These fish are popular for their giant size, and can grow up to lengths of 3 meters (10 feet), although most catches in the country are much smaller and are usually 1.2 to 1.5 meters long. It has very slippery green-brown skin. Its belly is pale yellow or white. Wels catfish can live for at least thirty years and have very good hearing. The wels catfish lives in large, warm lakes and deep, slow-flowing rivers, and feed on annelid worms, gastropods, insects, crustaceans, and fish; the larger ones also eat frogs, mice, rats and aquatic birds such as ducks. But probably the most popular species, and why many fishermen travel to Georgia, is for the trout. One of the best places for this is the Rioni River, which runs from the mountains in Upper Racha to the Black Sea. Another great area that is generally unknown to most tourists is the Tusheti National Park. The rivers in the Tusheti National Park are all glacier fed water running off of shale rock and are absolutely beautiful.

To catch these trout, usual fly fishing material and equipment can be used. If you only own a 9′ 6 weight you might want to do some rod shopping, because you will have a difficult time casting with dense trees. Another factor to consider is rod weight; using a stiff 6 weight you will not be able to load line on the short accurate casts needed for effective small stream fishing for trout. This is one occasion where your best weapon for easy casting will be a 6-7 foot long 2-4 weight rod. Most anglers don’t already own a rod this size, but everyone should. Try casting a 6 weight all day and suddenly picking up a 2 weight, it feels really good! If you try to walk down stream and fish for trout you will stir up the water and greatly affect your catch rate. One step into a batch of mud or mucky sediment and you could all but ruin your chances of catching a fish for a while. Walking upstream to the trout you will not need to be concerned with stepping in the mud, because any trout that see it will have already been cast. Roll casting is pretty basic and you can get good at it with very little practice. Once you master this cast you will find that 90% of the time it will be your best option while fishing for trout in small creeks. Fly fishing in small streams can take a while to get used to, but you can easily get away from the crowds. Chances are there won’t be anyone in earshot to hear all of the profanity that comes out of your mouth every time you hook a tree on your backcast. The number of small trout streams far outnumbers large rivers. It only makes sense since any river is composed of tributary streams. Most large trout rivers are fished much harder than more secluded small streams that are full of willing fish. However, many anglers fail to realize that they need to adjust their technique to take advantage of the opportunity. Small streams have less room for fish to move about in. The good news is that there are only so many places for the fish to go. The bad news is that the fish are far more sensitive to disturbance. Any trout that is aware of your presence is far less likely to eat than one that is carefree, going about his daily business of watching for food. The best presentation or the most innovative fly patterns will not hook fish that know what is going on.

With a little preparation, the Republic of Georgia can be a fisherman’s paradise. From the beautiful scenery and plentiful mountain streams and rivers, it’s hard not to want to fish here. This is one place any serious angler should have on his fishing bucket list, as they won’t want to return home after doing some fishing here!

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