Orvis/Exotic Fly Fishing Adventure Video: Republic Of Georgia - Orvis
The water ran a shade of gray typically reserved for concrete mixing and mid-winter clouds. Mountains tore into the perfect sky, leaving jagged silhouettes that somehow put things into harmonious perspective. Deep in the Tusheti, a region in northeast Georgia frozen in time, a group set out to decode the fly-fishing opportunities the Caucasus Mountains have held secret for ages. Anglers Marty Reed, Matt Hansen, and Dan Armstrong joined Daniel Kunin—an American advisor to the Georgian government—on an adventure into this unbridled and majestic landscape that, after centuries of foreign occupation, has only recently grasped its own freedom.
“When we took off, I had no clue,” said Reed, a pharmacist and long-time guide on the Henry’s Fork. “I had never even heard of the country. When it wasn’t asphalt and peaches, I realized there was another Georgia somewhere.”
Kunin set up this opportunity, partially due to his own curiosity as a fly angler, and partially because he hopes to
see Georgia’s burgeoning tourism industry benefit from anglers willing to explore. He invited Armstrong for his photo experience, Hansen for his writing expertise, and Reed for his guiding acumen. What would happen was anyone’s guess.
“I felt a lot of pressure on myself,” Reed said. “I’ve been guiding for 13 years and I felt like I have a good idea how to catch fish, so I just felt honored to be a part of the crew.”
Armed with an array of Helios 2 rods, plenty of Budvar beer, and a generous helping of hope, the foursome wet lines on the Alazani River for three hard-fought days. They encountered 6-inch-long grasshoppers, local fishermen, and every conceivable type of holding water—but not many fish. The ones they did catch were small, and looked like a cross between brown and brook trout—
“brownbros,” as they came to be known.
“The whole time we were there, we didn’t see one fish rise,” Reed explained. “What if we had gone there and slayed them? That would have been great. Now, it’s a mystery. Now, it’s a challenge.”
Success is often an indefinable word when it comes to fly fishing. It becomes a highly individualized concept, completely reliant upon each angler’s unique perspective. To some, traveling halfway across the world to catch a handful of small fish would be a folly, a total failure. To these anglers, it turned into a sublime mystery that waits for an answer.