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photo by Lynn Gambrellphoto by Lynn Gambrell

Seated in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia, Noontootla Creek Farms is a private hunting and fishing preserve, consisting of 1200 acres and two miles of premiere trophy trout stream. My great grandfather, Frank Owenby, a businessman from Marietta, Georgia purchased this property we now call home in 1954 in an attempt to escape the chaos of city life. Followed by his son, and my grandfather Paul, or as I like to call him “PapaO,” the property was used for entertainment for his clients as well as a playground for my dad, Greg, and his two older brothers. Four generations later, our farm not only serves as an escape for every member of our growing family, but it also serves our clients who come from all over the country to experience what we have to offer. We provide farmhouse lodging, a sporting clays course, guided quail and pheasant hunts, and last but surely not least, guided fly fishing trips.

photo by - Lynn Gambell

As a kid, I tried every hobby you could think of: soccer, piano lessons, golf, and plenty of others. But being raised on what we refer to as “the farm,” I have always had an admiration for our Southern Appalachian home and all it entailed. I counted down the days until my entire family piled in Grandad’s farmhouse for the weekend to spend every minute outside building tree forts, racing our ATVs, or playing in the creek. When we weren't splashing in the deepest holes we could find, we were fishing them. With Blue Ridge being the “Trout Capital of Georgia” and my family owning the main source of private water, I had a front row seat to really see the dynamics of the fly fishing industry, witness guide culture, and learn what cold water fishing was all about. I had always loved watching the guides on the water and hearing their fish tales at the end of the day but thought being a guide was out of reach for me. As I grew older, I finally took full advantage of the trophy trout stream in my backyard and spent my summers taking lessons with a great guide, learning all the ins and outs.

photo by - Lynn Gambrell

More often than not, I found myself daydreaming about the sport and the personal best brown that still haunts my dreams. I continued to fly fish all throughout my packed high school schedule, constantly begging my younger cousin Mitchell to fish with me. I learned very quickly that if you were going to make it in this industry, you had to learn to “run with the boys” because women were few and far between. Through social media, I began following female guides from near and far, a prospect which only pushed my obsession and inspired me even more. I would watch their videos on repeat, listen to their podcasts, pull apart their featured articles, and study their photos.​ Now you can find me fitting right in with the rest of my guide buddies, often giving them a run for their money - and even out-fishing them.

photo by - Lynn Gambrell

While the busyness of life took over, I began college and worked a part-time job with little time to spare. Even though I often kept my nose in a textbook, I couldn't help but think about the farm and the wild trout that were waiting for me. But once the pandemic hit​, I found myself with an abundance of free time leaving fly fishing as the ideal way to social distance. I had finally found the perfect excuse to get on the water more. I spent almost every day around the farm, moving from hole to hole, trying to improve my skills, and slowly but surely pushing my way into the industry. With countless trips shadowing some of the best guides on the Blue Ridge scene - teaching me the perfect “finesse” of a cast, how to row a drift boat like a pro, and that one should “never leave fish to find fish” - I finally felt confident enough to go out with some clients on my own. More importantly, outfitters felt assured and comfortable sending me as an “up and coming” guide. Without these mentors, friends who have become more like family, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to grow in this industry the way that I have.

photo by - Lynn Gambrell

Today I am passionate about getting anyone out on the water, but especially women and children. There are few better feelings for me than putting a fellow female or a young angler on the fish of a lifetime and sharing the excitement with them. Fly fishing can be an intimidating, male-dominated industry, which is why it’s especially crucial that we as women empower each other, on and off the water.

photo by - Lynn Gambrell

Now, I work hand in hand with my dad, grandfather, uncles, and cousins on the property, and I am a student at the University of North Georgia studying business management and environmental studies. I assist in managing the property and stream, bookings, and outfitter access, all while guiding trips on our private and public waters, and keeping a high grade point average. My team and I are heading up some huge, exciting projects here on the farm in hopes to develop our business and preserve our water. We are striving to improve our dynamic to ensure that clients truly have the experience of a lifetime and walk away knowing they just spent time on the best wild trout stream in the Southeast. In order to do so, we have to keep the health of our stream as our top priority. We are working with fishery biologists on a conservation initiative for the sustainability and conservation of our property, stream, and fish.

photo by - Lynn Gambrell

Emily in her element

Within an ever-changing world, fly fishing has truly been my outlet. I am fortunate to call Noontootla Creek Farms home, and even more so for the opportunity to guide, work, learn, live, and grow here. As I enter my twenties and earn my bachelor’s degree, I am making big plans to continue developing our company; more importantly, I plan to continue preserving our private portion of Noontootla Creek. I am thankful that I have the chance to learn something new with each trip, to grow as a guide, businesswoman, and person. It is truly a God-given opportunity for me, and I look forward to a lifetime of tight lines, hard work, and lessons learned right here at Noontootla Creek Farms.

Want to plan the trip of a lifetime? Check out Noontootla Creek Farms by visiting our website here.

photo by - Lynn Gambrell

The beauty of the surroundings and the fish make this the perfect destination for any trout lover.