Rhonda Ford

Rhonda Ford (left) is presented with a plaque by American Bass Anglers president Morris Sheehan after being inducted into the American Bass Anglers Hall of Fame last month in South Carolina. / Contributed

I first met Charlie Ford when he was working at Charlie Gay’s Auction sometime in the 1980s. Over time we started fishing together. Most of the trips during that time were to North Carolina for trout. Most of the trips were made in the winter, and many of the trips were on snowy weekends when the temps rarely got above the 30s.

I remember one trip Charlie, Scotty Davis and I took to Standing Indian, which is a section of the Nantahala River near the Georgia line. On that trip Charlie fished hard even though there was about 10 inches of snow on the ground.

I think all three of us suffered through the cold and caught a few fish, but Scotty had a reason to gripe a little because the cheap waders he was wearing developed a leak and I am surprised that he continued to fish.

Another trip that I made one winter with Charlie was to Cherokee, North Carolina. We stayed at the Drama Motel and it has one of the best and heaviest stocked fishing holes in the river in downtown Cherokee.

Charlie is tougher than most anglers I know when it comes to wading in the winter. I had come back to the room to warm myself and had not been there long when Charlie comes in the door with two nice trout between two and three pounds each. I was not so impressed by the fish, as I was that Charlie had been wet wading. His jeans were wet almost to the waist.

I can wade some creeks into the late fall and early winter months by wearing neoprene ankle boots and short pants as long as I would only stay in the water a few minutes, but Charlie can stand in near freezing water and not even shiver.

Charlie bought a jet boat and focused on striped bass for a while but has always been a trout guy at heart. On Nov. 12, 2001, I got a cell call from Charlie. He had just caught a huge brown trout from his jet boat in the Chattahoochee River and thought it might be a world record. He told me that it was about 18 pounds, and I informed him that the current world record was around 30, but I advised him to the details on how to apply for state records.

The state record for brown trout at that time was less than 16 pounds. Charlie claimed the Georgia state record for brown trout with his fish weighing 18 pounds and six ounces. That record stood until 2014 when Chad Doughty caught a 20-pound, 14-ounce brown in the Hooch.

Charlie fished with a friend Tim Welchel back in September. They were floating a North Georgia river and despite the high water both anglers had a good day. Fishing from kayaks Tim caught and released a brown trout that was about five pounds, and Charlie brought a monster brown to the kayak that was too large for the net. That fish was estimated at 10 pounds.

Charlie married a girl 15 years ago that loves fishing as much, if not more, than he does. His wife Rhonda has quite a history in fishing. She is a tournament bass fisher and has been competing for 21 years, going against male and female anglers across the nation.

During that time she won about 30 tournaments and placed in over 100 more. She is a director of American Bass Anglers and directs the tournaments at Weiss and Neely Henry lakes. She was inducted into the American Bass Anglers Hall of Fame this past Oct. 27. She is the second woman to ever be inducted to the Hall of Fame in the 62-year history of the organization.

Dream trip for two

Chances are now on sale by TU chapters in Georgia for the Dream Fly Fishing Adventure. The top prize is a six-day, five-night stay in a private cabin in Idaho for two.

Each angler will receive a custom built fly rod completely rigged along with dozens of flies tied just for the trip and the rivers. The trip is hosted by John McGarity and, being a great chef, will provide meals for the anglers. Contact any TU member for chances to win.

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