Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Plan C Brookie Fishing

Well this trip had changed a couple times.  Plan A was to camp on a certain stream and fish it for a couple days, but the weather decided to be in the single digits at the altitude we would be fishing and snowing.  So Plan B was to just camp at a campground and fish a few streams in the area, but they added snow to the mix and dropped the temps in the valley as well.  Also got a stomach bug early last week and my body wasn't at 100% or in no condition to be in those temps.  Plan C was to stay at a friend's cabin and have heat and access to the NCAA tournament games.  Plan C ended up being a good choice.

I fished a brookie/rainbow stream on the first day heading to my friend's cabin.  This stream has always treated me well and holds some big rainbows and brookies.

Hemlock growing out of on old hemlock stump.

Even got some takes on the dry fly, but most were on the dropper.

Love the chalky look to this stream.

Few black stoneflies were out.

Woke up Saturday to some nice 21 degree weather, 20 mph winds, and some snow.  Thought for sure it would shut down the brook trout, but we were very wrong.  Trout were caught in about every run and the big girls were out and about.

Shoe laces were frozen stiff. 

Built a small fire to warm the hands and to make a cup of joe.

Mmmmm, coffee ground filled cowboy coffee

Shagbark hickory

Woke up Sunday to 12 degree temps and decided to just head home early. I had got my trout fix in.

Pretty drive leaving the mountains.

Now musky are back on my mind.  Hit them a few times before they start their spawn.

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Tale of a Stocker or a Wild Fish?

I hit a couple streams this weekend and came across an interesting fish.  This is one of the moments I wish fish could talk.  I caught a big small stream rainbow out of a run.  As soon as I got it to hand, I swore it had to be a stocked rainbow trout that traveled a great distance.  It had stocker like markings, ugly face and jaw, big size, and just looked like a stocker at first glance, but after looking at it more one can see the vivid par markings and the tail and fins intact and that of a wild fish. Even stocked trout that have been in the wild for years and years will usually show signs of their prior residence in the concrete fish troughs.  This fish's tail was rounded and full, and not squared off like a stocked trout's tail.  So it is a toss up for me.  If it is a stocked trout though, it made an incredible journey to where it is today.  The nearest stocked stream is around 5 miles away.  While this does not sound impressive, it is more so when the 5 miles this fish traveled is described.  Where this stream enters the stocked creek, a good portion of the stream goes subterranean and is very skinny even during high water.  Then the stream gains some steep elevation with some impressive plunge pools and falls that the trout would have to climb.  The stream had a couple mountain roads that cross it with some sketchy, old culverts it had to go through just to find this deep run to call it's home.  While not impossible, I still find it hard to believe that the fish had that much ambition to make that journey. I honestly think it is a big old wild rainbow, but deep down I kind of hope that it was a stocked trout and is back in it's run it found.

More to come from my trip, there were some big brookies caught as well in other streams.
Sneak peek brookie

Monday, March 9, 2015

Wainscoting Trout Break

I have been working on prepping a nursery for painting all weekend.  Put up a wainscoting, caulking room, putting up trim, and 50 degree weather made me put aside a few hours on Sunday for some brookies with a friend.  Good day to get out and spring is around the corner.



Monday, March 2, 2015

Musky Thawing Out

The streams and rivers of Virginia have been locked up with ice from old man winter.  Which has given me some time to focus on my wife as her Birthday and Valentines day hit close together in mid February.  In the past two weeks Lynchburg has received close to 20 inches of snow, broke an all time low temp record as -11, and froze a couple rivers up completely which I have never seen.  Luckily we received a couple days in the mid 30's and low 40's which seems like a heat wave and allowed me some time on the river chasing Mr. Musky.  Decided to be safe and chose a section of river that has a dam behind it that would ensure we would not run into any ice.

I moved two musky early on in the float.  One was beast.  I bombed a cast, strip, strip, strip, tight line, set the hook, "Am I hung on a log?".  Slowly rose the musky to the surface, she head shook a couple times and threw the fly. Tough getting a good hook set on a musky from a distance.  Got a good look at her though and she was one of the bigger muskies I have seen in person.  A really knee shaker. This was the fly that got it done for the day.

It was a cold day to be out on the river with the temps being around 20 when we put in and reaching a balmy 30 degrees for the day.  The sun being out helped too.

One of the keys for musky fishing is not focusing on catching a musky, but enjoying good company and having a good time being on the river.  Whenever I float with Dave, we bring a grill, take a mid day break on a sand bar, grill and few burgers, and rest our casting and rowing arms.

Also helps to bring some coffee and a hand warmer for the cold days.

If you take a step back and soak in the scenery you will be amazed at some of God's creatures you will spot.  Beavers, muskrats, a few hawks, and an eagle were out.  Got a blurred photo of the eagle.

At the end of a long day of floating and bombing a 450 grain line and a wet deer, we were treated to a sunset at the take out.

Beats a warm day indoors in my opinion.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Virginia Snow

Well Virginia got it's, what is becoming, yearly snow storm.  Holly enjoyed the snow.  She sits by the window whimpering cause she wants to be out in the snow 24/7. Here is a couple pictures of her enjoying the snow yesterday.


I enjoyed sitting inside with the fireplace going tying up a musky fly.

What I did not enjoy is having to shovel out the jeep every 10 feet this morning after a night of another 10 inches of powdery snow to get to work.  My jeep can handle the wet piled high snow, but the tires just spin on an unplowed street of powdery snow.  

Stay warm!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Over Engineering Fly Fishing

Fly fishing tends to get the stigma of being a complicated, difficult art to learn and it tends to deter a lot of fishermen from getting into the sport.  Why yes, fly fishing can be considered an art form and there are several different aspects that can make fly fishing challenging.  It is difficult to learn casting techniques, fly tying can be a tough plunge to take, there is an array of different lines, leaders, rods, and reels, and about a million different opinions on each of these topics.  However, fly fishing can be very simple as well.  Trout fishing is the bread and butter of fly fishing.  I am amazed at how many people in Virginia I run into that say "I have always wanted to fly fish for brook trout, but it all seems confusing and expensive".  One can make fly fishing both confusing and expensive, but there is really no need to.

I remember when I first got into brook trout fishing and I was always looking up new patterns and flies to try.  It did not take long to learn that fly fishermen seem to over complicate fly fishing.  Fact is, I have never seen a massive hatch on our Virginia brook trout waters where the fish get keyed on a specific hatch.  Tailwater fly fishing and big river trout fly fishing can get a little more complicated then brook trout fishing as the brown trout can and do get keyed into certain hatch.  However, the trout in the headwaters of these small streams cannot afford to be picky due to their high metabolism and need for constant eating to survive.  It is more about fly placement and stealth then fly selection.  I only tie two patterns for brook trout now days and they have served me well. 

One day when I was in a fly shop a 15 to 17 year old teenager came into the fly shop and asked "can you show me what flies work good for catching natives?".  To which the fly shop owner replied, "sure, but first what kind of fly rod are you using to catch those brook trout?".  I shook my head and immediately knew where this conversation was going.  The kid was using a $30 Eagle Claw fly rod and the owner immediately said, "this here is what you want to catch those trout with, let me string this rod up so you can test it out" as he grabbed a couple hundred dollar 3 wt from the rack.  I understand that the fly shop needs to make a profit, but the irony amazes me.  Sure, a 2.2 oz St. Croix Legend Elite 3 wt is a heck of a fly rod to throw for brook trout, but the Eagle Claw fiberglass 4 wt will do just as good throwing a dry 5 feet up a plunge pool (side note, those Eagle Claw Fiberglass rods are a steal and a heck of fly rod to abuse on a small stream if you can get past the bright yellow rod).  Over complicating the sport is a common thing that is seen in the fly fishing industry.  Just look at the latest gear and accessories at the fly shows.

When it comes down to it, fly fishing is a simple sport that the angler likes to over complicate and over engineer.  The way I started fly fishing was on Georgia ponds for bluegill and bass.  A hand me down 8 wt with a straight 10 lb mono line to a small woolly bugger or popper.  Simplicity.  While fly fishing for musky and striper tend to complicate things slightly more then pursuing brook trout, it is still the same principle.  While I do like the challenge of these different fish species, I still enjoy getting out on a small stream, casting a stimulator into a slow moving pool, and watching a little brookie sip the fly.  Fly fishing is only as difficult as one makes it.