Chris Scalley

Chris Scalley

A River Runs Through Atlanta

  • By: John C. Kies
The first name that comes up when talking about trout in Atlanta's Chattahoochee River is Chris Scalley. Chris is the premier guide on the Chattahoochee, but he is much more than that. Chris launched the non-profit Chattahoochee Cold Water Tailrace Fishery Foundation, which is rapidly becoming the leading source for hard data on Chattahoochee water quality, and it regularly supports daylong sessions for children to come to the river, collect and catalog their own samples and learn about the ecosystem. Chris' group also observes and measures the river's invertebrate life, which is a key indicator of the river's health. Other foundation work includes erosion-control projects and wildlife-habitat construction.

The Chattahoochee is not only a great tailwater fishery, it is also the main source of water for the entire Atlanta-metro area. As Atlanta continues its rampant growth, there is increased demand on the river, which could result in further pollution and degradation of water quality. Faced with these problems, Chris leads the fight to protect water quality through his foundation and its research and education programs.

The Chattahoochee provides almost 40 miles of trout water from Buford Dam on Lake Lanier right up to the Atlanta city limits. As one of the southern-most trout waters in the US, and a fishery flowing through the fastest-growing urban corridor in the Southeast, the pressures placed on this river demand constant vigilance to keep it healthy.

Chris partners with several groups including the Upper Chattahoochee River Keeper and its director, Sally Bethea, on a broad range of water-quality issues. Through the foundation and his guide service, Chris monitors the river for both point-source and non-point-source pollution. Chris was the first to observe and videotape brown and rainbow trout spawning in the tailwater. This is particularly important because under Georgia law the presence of reproducing fish in a stream allows for better controls and regulations.

Through his constant vigilance, Chris Scalley has improved and protected this unique river, which is why he is my hero, and hero to so many who enjoy the Chattahoochee River, our "River Through Atlanta."

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