Native writes fly fishing guide

Published 5:21 pm Monday, November 11, 2019

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Andalusia native Sam Johnson has come a long way since he taught himself to fly fish in his family’s pond back in the 1960s.

Johnson’s just written a one-of-a-kind guide, “Fly Fishing the Blue Ridge Parkway,” which was released by Mountain Arbor Press last month.

The 308-page, full-color book features more than 130 images, and a “bucket list” of more than 200 of the most productive places to chase trout along the Parkway in North Carolina.

“I started fly fishing in my family’s pond there in Andalusia back in the 60s, after visiting Brevard, N.C., and seeing fly fishermen in the cold water flows up there,” he said. “I transitioned from warm water fly fishing to cold water trout fly fishing when I moved to Georgia. All of this is documented in great detail in the book.”

In the book, Johnson groups 200-plus watersheds into four – 63-mile sections. He provides descriptions of the flows in each watershed including first hand observations and “At a Glance” insights such as: Sam’s ranking, fishing pressure, mouth & source GPS fixes, size of flow, trout species, gradients and best access points. Then, each flow is summarized in a source to mouth overview, and finally with a highly detailed mouth to source description. Descriptions are also provided for each flow’s fishable tributaries and feeders. Some of these watersheds include as many as ten or more flows.

“A lifetime of living with my safety clicked off – boots on the ground – and lines in the water experience, offers anglers ‘almost accurate’ descriptions and insights to some of the best rivers, streams and creeks along the North Carolina section (of the Blue Ridge Parkway) – with just enough history and lore to keep it interesting,” he said. “And if I live long enough, I’ll get my thoughts down about the 217 miles in the Virginia Section, too.”

The book also includes an overview of the Parkway’s history, construction, flora and fauna, climate, macro-hydrology, basic fishing regulations, Parkway management and contact information. Other chapters offer insight into the origins, physical attributes and habits of all three trout found along the Parkway, as well as some of the cautions / dangers associated with fishing Parkway waters.

Johnson, who is an equity partner in the Atlanta practice of Newport, LLC,  said he decided to write the book because “no one else was crazy enough to strap on the project of documenting 469 miles of fly water along the North Carolina and Virginia sections of the Parkway, so I became the fool that decided to do it. As of this date – there is no other book about this topic. I’m the first to do it.

“I decided to make it a reality because I have fished so many of the tame and remote and dangerous Parkway waters, and love it so much I wanted to leave a legacy that people could use as a resource to find and fish the same waters,” he said. “The Parkway is a very special place with a great history, and its waters are special too.”

To date, it has received good reviews.

“This guide to some of the best Parkway watersheds is an invaluable resource for any fly angler,” said Monte Seehorn, Regional Fisheries Biologist (retired) / US Forest Service Region 8.  “Sam’s ability to organize and describe each watershed’s key characteristics will help you find streams some only dream about.”

Carlton Wing – Outdoors TV producer, including “American Fly Guide,” said, “Those who cast fly rods understand the majesty of the sport. Fly Fishing the Blue Ridge Parkway will elevate your appreciation of the craft viewed through the lens of Sam Johnson and some of the most beautiful places on earth.”

Johnson is the brother of Andalusia Mayor Earl Johnson. His book, which is $24.95, is available online at