Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Last Trip in Virginia

An era has come to an end I guess you could say. Four years in Virginia fishing all over the state and many others. The rolling hills here are beautiful and possess a Southern state of mind that takes you back to the good 'ol days. Virginia is truly a beautiful place. Although compared with trout fishing elsewhere, Virginia does not top any lists but I should say that it can hold its own in all categories of tailwaters (Jackson River), spring creeks (Mossy Creek), and freestones (any mountain stream in SNP).

My last trip I decided to go to the first place I ever fished in Virginia, if memory serves correctly. The North Fork of the Moormans River. There is a pay to play stocked section below the Charlottesville Reservoir, but above it is purely wild brookies and the higher you hike, the more rewards you receive. A truly beautiful river with beautiful fish. Wet wading for the first time was amazing and I caught fish on top of it. A great day, although I left with a nasty sunburn. It only reminds me every time I take a shower or put a shirt on that I had a great day fishing, my last day fishing here in VA. My friend, Casey, accompanied me and we did not have a 50-fish day but it didn't matter. The bugs were everywhere and the sun was shining and the water was flowing. What else can a guy ask for?

The gypsy moth's have cocooned up and are ready to explode into beautiful moths. Their nests are truly a sight to see. These were everywhere along the river. It's been a great four years, the best of which were when I was with my friends on the river. It never matters which one you're on.

It's time for me to move on, and I'm headed to Wyoming for the summer. I can't wait for this new experience in my life. After that, who knows. Oregon? New Zealand? Somewhere else? That's the most exciting part. I'm at the wind's mercy to blow me wherever it sees fit.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Burn One Down

It's 4/20. 'Nuff said.

See ya'll tomorrow. I'm gonna hang out with Bob Marley and Cheech for a while. Peace.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The City Skunk

Where I am is probably the most important part of fly fishing for me. There is something about being in the middle of a river in the middle of nowhere surrounded by mountains. My mother called me on Easter and asked if I was going to church. I responded, "Yeah, I'm going fishing." She knows that the rivers are my church and the flow of the streams are my sermons, and in a bit of reverse fortune the river makes its offerings to me in the forms of beautiful trout, although the offering plate often reveals nothing in its bowl. Flyfishing is spiritual, it's pure. I don't have to meet my neighbor unless I want to and I can wear whatever I want.The hymns I choose to sing are generally by Bob (Marley, Dylan or Seger) with a little Creedence thrown in the mix. Instead of going to Macaroni Grill or Luby's, I can sit on a rock and eat a sandwich in silence.

Certain days when you don't have the time to drive three hours to get your spiritual fix, you find the closest thing possible. For me, if it's not a small bluegill pond it is the river that runs right through the city. The shad are running right now and all the rednecks are out trolling and chucking bait from the banks. I decide I really need to go, and I've never caught a shad before so I might as well give it a try.

When I get to the river, I see almost 50 boats and twice as many anglers on the shore with lines in the water. I figured this would be the case so I was not disappointed. The wind was whipping and the air felt arctic. The bank was at a steep decline going down to the river meaning a steep incline looking back. I had to cast at about a 45 degree angle vertically to avoid the rocks behind me, not to mention dodging my shad dart as it whipped by my head being coerced by the wind to take me out.

As I look out at the boats I notice one guy with a flyrod. All the idiots around him are sitting in their boats watching as the lone wand waver hooks up with one silver, shining shad after another. He probably pulled in around eight or nine fish in the 30 minutes I watched him in jealousy and admiration. I needed a boat, no question about it.

I knew my efforts were for not, but was still happy to give it a shot. After a couple hours of fishing and then searching the river for better spots and fishing some more, my friend and I call it a day and realize we can still catch the tail-end of the 4-7 happy hour at a local bar where PBR pints are $1. Into my third tasty Pabst I am assured I made the right decision, and my day was fulfilled. The skunk and the river, the beer and the bar, telling stories with a friend. It was a good day.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Something out of Nothing

I haven't been in the tying game very long and so when you don't have a lot of money you have to slowly build up your supplies. I had a decent amount of materials starting to get built up when my tying world came crashing down. Someone threw away all of my materials. Stupidly I had them in a big paper grocery bag, and so it's not surprising, but I'm still pissed. I had to go get a few things to start all over again.

When I sit down I usually have no idea what I'm going to tie. I just grab some stuff and think about it right then. I think that is a great way to be creative and learn how to use things differently. Anyway, I wanted to tie a couple streamers and all I have to work with is black and white zonker strips, a couple packs of dubbing, thread, and white and yellow marabou. That's it.

So here are three flies I tied with just this material. The first one is called the Heidi Fleiss because it's really easy. One white zonker strip wrapped around the hook and 7-10 1" pieces of peacock tail. That's it. It can be a little rainbow or any kind of fingerling or tiny baitfish.

The next fly is called the Gator. It's nasty looking, has a long tail, and is deadly. The side shot is a yellow gator. It is just yellow marabou tied at the hook shank, then a black zonker strip tied in front of that and then more yellow marabou tied in front of that. I then dubbed some white rabbit fur on right before the bead.

The shot from the back is a white gator with some yellow in it. Same technique, just different color marabou planted. The black zonker strip give is great lateral action and the marabou provides great body and color. Both of these patterns are great for post-rain, off-color water.

More important, I tied these with no materials other than zonker strips and marabou and thread.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

A Day in the Park

Saturday Cy and I went to Shenandoah National Park and fished one of the many Brook Trout streams in the park. It was in the mid 50s and overcast; not ideal brookie conditions. We hiked in (a hike that was longer than we anticipated) and headed to the stream. It was a beautiful, small typical mountain stream.

First cast and I was hooked up. A nice, but very small native brookie. Third cast, same result. Cy caught fish as well, but all of our fish combined were caught on nymphs. The water was still a little cold to get the fish to come to the surface. I saw a few insects (Epeorus Pleuralis, I think) but not much was coming off. It was great to get out in the park and fish for brookies again. We each caught a handful and were satisfied. The hike out was brutal in our waders and wading boots. It was not even 60 degrees and were were sweating, and both of us are in good shape.

All in all it was a great day as most any fishing day is. We headed out of the park and went to another stream and caught the evening caddis hatch. It was great to see bugs again. Spring is here!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Bring on the Rain

It has been almost three weeks since I have fished, and I'm getting anxious again. This weekend I am free to go fishing, but only because we lost our rugby playoff game last week. I'm really bummed out about that and I'm the most competitive person I know, so I hate losing at anything. Also, it is supposed to rain almost everywhere in Virginia for a couple days this week, so the rivers might be blown out. I am going either way just to get in the water and do something. I don't care if it's pouring down rain and the river looks like a septic tank, if you are looking for me on Saturday, don't hold your breath. I'm fishing.

A lot of rain brings either amazing conditions or unfishable conditions. The difference is usually a day or two. If you have a river that is rising and is getting muddied up, the conditions will be terrible. However, right after the rains start to lighten up, or stop altogether and the flow goes down, a lot of rivers turn into feeding troughs.

When a river is high and moving fast, the fish move to the banks and hide out in slow moving water, and wait for the storm to pass. When the river goes down something turns on in the fish, especially Browns, and they go nuts for anything looking meaty and swimming by them. Whether you are in a boat or wading, if you have a chance to fish a river that is slightly off-color and receding, you are going to be in streamer heaven. All you have to do is pound the banks, and hit as much water as you can. I learned this summer from the guides I worked with that streamer fishing, at least where we were doing it, is not relaxing. Cast, strip,strip,strip,strip, pick up and cast again. We would probably hit our streamers twice in the water for every 12 inches of water we passed. After about 45 minutes, if you are not sweating (for the fat guys it's about 10 minutes) you aren't doing it right. Sinking line makes the difference because when you are covering as much water as we are, you don't have time to wait for the fly to sink. It has to be down there in a hurry and moving the second it hits the water. If you hit the river at just the right time, it is sure to be a day of casting and blasting you soon won't forget. Jointed hooks are preferable (if the fish are big) and after 20 minutes or so of no follows, switch colors. Zoo Cougars are my favorite, along with sculpin and zonker patterns. White, Yellow, and Black are my favorite colors. Most of the time, if it is in front of their face, a big territorial Brown is going to at least chase it for a while to get your fly out of its area.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Part 3

After heading back from camping, I was still not satisfied for the week and wanted to get one more day in before I flew to Dallas and Austin for the weekend. The weather was cooperating so I headed out for a day trip.

The river I went to has a great stretch that runs right through a town. The urban setting is not the most aesthetic background scene, but the fishing is very good, and I was there for the fish. After setting up my rig, I went down to a stretch just below a bridge with some nice riffles and fast water. After my 3rd or 4th cast I was into a nice little Rainbow. I caught a couple others and other fishermen were catching fish as well.

Besides catching fish, the best sight to see were caddis flying all around. It was the first real hatch I had seen since November, and was a welcome sight. I knew it had been a very long winter when I saw a fish rise and actually said out loud, "Holy shit."

I can't wait for consistent warm weather which is right around the corner, I think. Wyoming is creeping up, and I am just trying to get out when I can to tide me over until the real fun begins this summer. A weekend camping trip should be coming up in a few weeks, so looks like it's just writing and tying flies until then.