By Kevin F. McGrath,
Just like you, I like my home water simply because it is mine. Even though we share our home rivers with others, we possessively think of them as nothing less than ours. As with all things we own, physically or figuratively, we want to enjoy, protect and preserve them.
The Chattahoochee River, or ‘Hooch’ as it is called by locals, is my home water. It is nearby. I fish it often, drink its water in my home and generally benefit from its impact on my community. Even though I share the Hooch with over 5 million other metro Atlanta residents, it is nonetheless mine. As a conservationist-angler, the relationship I have with the Hooch instills a desire to protect and improve the river.
You are no different than me. Close bonds are formed with the streams you frequent. Soon you begin thinking of, then referring to them as your rivers. Maybe not immediately, but over time, it is as if the rivers become family and you begin to take on responsibility for them. You become not only the river’s beneficiary but its steward as well.
There are many wonderful qualities about the Hooch. In the midst of the country’s ninth-most populous metropolitan area, it is home to a robust wild brown trout population. In fact, the river is one of only two trout streams in North America that flows through an urban area. Trout Unlimited, notably, has recognized the Hooch as one of America’s 100 Best Trout Streams. It is proudly home to a national park, the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, containing America’s first National Water Trail.
Vitally important to Atlanta’s, Georgia’s and the region’s economy, the Chattahoochee River has been, and will continue to be, central to growth and recreation. Beginning as a small spring in the north Georgia mountains, it gathers water along the way to supply drinking water to 70 percent of metro Atlanta and feed one of the world’s premier oyster fisheries, Apalachicola Bay. Surprisingly, the Chattahoochee River above Atlanta comprises the smallest watershed to provide a major portion of drinking water for any U.S. metropolitan area.
Solitude and natural beauty abound on the Chattahoochee River. Chattahoochee is an Indian word meaning river of painted rocks referring to the numerous rock outcroppings along the river. There are many secluded places on the Hooch that defy its urban location. The river is a legacy passed along from the Cherokee and early settlers that we will gift to our children.
The list of qualities, well, it goes on… But in the end, the Hooch is mine. That, alone, is enough.Kevin McGrath is the president of the Upper Chattahoochee Chapter of Trout Unlimited.