The Savannah Rapids Trout Association has come up with a marvelous (and practical) vision to add to the investment value of Augusta's downtown riverfront development. In a letter sent to members of the area's legislative delegation, Association president Perry Houck spells it out.
The Augusta area is blessed with seven miles of clean, cold Savannah River rapids, about a half mile wide, that come right to the edge of downtown. Much of it is ideal for trout fishing.
Houck urges lawmakers to get behind the association's proposal to urge the state of Georgia, through the Department of Natural Resources, to designate the area an eight-month trout stream and stock it with a minimum of 100,000 catchable brown and rainbow trout annually between the months of October and May.
Houck points out that the DNR already established in the 1970s that trout will flourish in this stream during the eight-month period. In fact, he's convinced that once the area is designated as a trout stream it "will become the largest, primarily wadeable trout stream in Georgia, if not the South, which allows all citizens access to the resource."
Moreover, since the Augusta Canal is protected as a National Heritage site, this easy access is granted in perpetuity. The successful Augusta area fishery program was dropped in the '70s due to fund shortages. But that should no longer be a problem now.
Houck points out the DNR's wildlife and fisheries management programs are supported almost entirely by license fees, excise taxes and sales of hunting and fishing equipment of which Augusta area sportsmen are paying a full share.
Isn't it time they get something back for their money, particularly since this area is the second most populous in the state?
The answer to that question is a resounding, "Yes."
A thriving trout fishery attracting anglers from miles around Georgia and other states would be a boon to the region's tourist/recreation economy and a valuable addition to all the other riverfront attractions.
We urge lawmakers and other community leaders to energetically support Houck's visionary plan.