The Winter has been unusually harsh this year in the Commonwealth and as a result I haven't done as much fishing as I would have liked. So, it was with great joy that I looked at the weather forecast this past weekend and saw an opportunity to get back in action. My buddy Marty was of the same mindset and we decided on one of our favorite haunts for wild trout: Shenandoah National Park. The Park boasts roughly 90 small streams and almost all of them hold native eastern brook trout. For this trip we decided on a small stream in the eastern central district. In addition to the aforementioned brook trout, this little gem boasts a nice population of wild brown trout. The lack of natural barriers to upstream movement on this particular stream has allowed the browns to become well established and I, for one, like having them there.
We arrived stream side at about 10:00, strung up our rods and started in on a short hike. After trudging through the snow for about a half mile, we arrived at the first pool and got down to business. It didn't take long for the action to begin and on my third cast, I hooked up with a nice little wild brown.
It looked like this was going to be a banner day, but things slowed down a little bit after the initial action. With air temps still in the low 40s and water temps not yet breaking the 40 degree mark, I guess it wasn't entirely unexpected. We continued to make our way upstream, leapfrogging each other and fishing all of the likely looking holes.
It took a few hours for things to get good and warmed up, but eventually the fish started to cooperate and we each managed to hook a few. The browns made a stronger showing but a few brook trout decided to join the party as well.
One of the unexpected things about the day was the emergence of a few Quill Gordon mayflies. This bug is always the first major hatch of the year, often coming off when the streams are still pretty chilly and the water is high. Even so, we figured these guys were at least a month early. We decided to look on the bright side and not take this as some cosmic sign of global warming but rather as a signal that Spring is just around the corner. Even though the fish ignored the bugs on this day, it was still a site for sore eyes.
So we fished on until we were a couple miles up the hill and the light was starting to fade. Deciding that it was time to get outa Dodge, we hit the trail and made our way back down the mountain. A wild trout stream, good company and willing fish; I can't think of a better way to spend a February day.