COLUMBUS, Ga. — To many, the Chattahoochee River is a place to fish, go whitewater rafting, kayaking, and swimming. But to Jake Koehler, it’s a place of underwater exploration.
Jake Koehler lives in Phenix City and feels right at home the closer he gets to the Chattahoochee River. Jake grew up in California where he spent a lot of time surfing. That’s why he’s right at home riding the continuous wave a Heaven’s Gate on the Columbus side of the river, but Jake is most comfortable underneath those waves exploring what lies below.
“I know a lot of people probably lose some cool stuff here because everyone’s going down in the rafts. So I started swimming around and I started documenting the cliffs and sharing the footage on YouTube. Started getting a little bit of an audience and now I’m out here everyday looking for treasure, and it’s so much fun,” says Koehler.
Jake’s tools of the trade are a face mask and snorkel, fins, a pair of scissors, and a couple of Go-Pro cameras. They capture his underwater adventures and you wouldn’t believe all the stuff he’s collected.
“Just this past season where all the hybrids and stripes came up, I came out here and the first day I swam I found hundreds of lures. I must have found over 300,” Koehler says.
He’s even found a whole tackle box full of lures! He’s recovered sunglasses and cell phones.
“Lately I’ve been finding a couple of Go Pros. I found a gold ring last year. That’s about the best stuff I’ve found so far,” says Koehler.
When Jake comes across junk cluttering up the riverbed, he makes a special effort to yank it out the water and throw it away.
“I’m just trying to make it a safer place and I’m having a lot of fun just getting all these treasures, you know,” says Koehler.
Besides the man-made treasures, Jake also finds a wonderful world of underwater creatures.
“You see a lot of catfish, striped bass, hybrids, spotted bass, a lot of different kind of bass, some chad,” says Koehler.
From time to time Jake will run across a fish that still has a hook and fishing line in its mouth. He’s careful to remove the hook and release the fish bank into the river.
“Most people think swimming in the river is just creepy. But it’s honestly really beautiful underneath,” says Koehler.
Jake has tried his hand a noodling a catfish from beneath the rocks.
“You’ll see some big turtles. I’m a little stressed out about some of those big turtles. They might get me. I’m always out there barefoot and I don’t want my little toes to get chopped off. But it’s a lot of fun seeing all that stuff out there.,” says Koehler.