Chattooga River - What Others are saying about boating the headwaters

posted June 21, 2003
by Don Kinser

Are you a Yahoo?


The recent editorial in the Georgia Outdoor News Editorial (Click Here) by Steve Burch seems to sum up the general, and some what arrogant, attitude among the angling community. Mr. Burch suggests that the angler's form of "reverent intensity" and respect for the river is superior to a boater's "irreverent and audacious" behavior. That you and I we are a "yahoo" who invades an angler's river sanctuary like it was an amusement park ride. Yes we boat in small groups rather than alone for safety reasons, a concept lost on many lone anglers wading in swift moving water.


When Don Kinser becomes a "kayaker" you can tell the battle for opening up the Chattooga headwaters is really heating up. Desperate measures for desperate times. Upstate South Carolina's largest newspaper, the Greenville News carried this article on the front of the metro section in their Sunday 6/8 edition. Art Shick, one of the main actors in the Trout Unlimited opposition to self guided boating in the Chattooga headwaters shares his views are why we are not worthy of this wonderful river.


Buzz Williams of the Chattooga Conservancy opposes boating on the headwaters of the Chattooga. He shared his views on "yahoo" boaters in a recent interview on Your Day, a public service program of Clemson University Radio Productions. Click here to listen as Buzz tells the state of SC that you are a "yahoo", go straight to track 7 for Buzz's comments.


Click Here to read what anglers are saying on the North Georgia Trout On-line website forum.


Here are some excerpts from some recent emails flying around the angling world:


"… fishermen in general are sick of all the boating on the Chattooga and would like to see that use stopped on the entire river because of the current hordes of people that not only essentially prevent fishing below 28, but that overcrowd the river pushing those wanting a quieter experience upstream..."


"Wanting to open up the stretch above highway 28 now is viewed as a greedy grab for all of the river by an element that already has 3/4th of it..."


"…and has not spent thousands of dollars and man hours doing conservation improvement projects in the watershed as TU has."


Here are some thoughts from an angler who says "I'm a rabid trout fisherman and although I might never fish the Chattooga, I'd hate to think what permitting whitewater boating on that river would do to trout fishing…" He went on to say:


"…Consider how much money the trout resource brings in: from swim fins and float tubes to fly rods and barbless hooks, to hackle and peacock herl to how-to books and filleting knives, from fly-tying vices to gasoline for a pickup truck, from motel rooms to meals at a local restaurant. Millions of dollars change hands simply because of trout. I won't even go into how many people feed their families as employees of hatcheries. What about the money that students pay to a university to study ichthyology and related ecosystems?..."


"…Further, trout fishermen tend to ply their sport for a lifetime, passing the skill onto their children. Boys and girls share equally in their love for the sport and many marriages include a husband-wife duo out on a stream, flicking their hand-tied flies onto an eddy. Boaters spend money too but the amount of money does not come close to what the trout resource brings in. (People will gladly pay big bucks to own a house through which a trout stream flows.)…"


Obviously your money just isn't green enough to deserve the right to boat the Chattooga headwaters based on this logic. …or maybe it really is about money and influence after all?


But to be truly worthy of the right to boat on the Chattooga headwaters you need to build our own boats!


"…For me, the term, "wild and scenic" implies a certain approach that is different from pleasure boating. If the boaters in question built their own pirogues or keel boats in the fashion of Lewis and Clark, I'd have no argument having them on the river because they would have proved to my satisfaction that they were intent on preserving the resource with a deep appreciation for what the river was before the white man discovered it. If they built their own boats, wore authentic clothing, made their own knives, carried 19th century firearms which they crafted themselves -- a parallel to a trout fisherman who wraps his own rod, ties his own flies, feeds his family with his catch -- then I would welcome them onto the river because then they would understand that the river is not something to be used, then discarded and disregarded until the next frantic rush to escape the big city."





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