Monday, January 24, 2011

Winter Spring Creekin'

The best way to cure a bad case of the shack nasties is to get out and go fishing - even if it is colder out than a well digger's back side. The thought of actually catching a few trout in the frigid conditions didn't seem too likely, but I needed to get out of the house. So, I set the DVR to record the football games and headed west towards trout water with Marty. We figured our best chance of success would be on one of the valley spring creeks. I've only been on this particular creek one time a few years ago and this was to be Marty's maiden voyage. We arrived, after a bit of driving around in circles, to blue skies and temps in the low 20s. The site of ice along the creek's edges didn't inspire much confidence.

This creek is mostly full of stocker rainbows that are much easier to catch than some of the other spring creek fish in the area, but there are also a few big wild browns. I spent most of the day on Saturday tying flies, so I wipped up a few bunny sculpins in the hopes of tempting one of those big browns.

The springs on this creek keep the water temps fairly favorable and the fishing actually turned out to be pretty decent. We didn't catch any of those big browns, but plenty of rainbows came out to play. Marty really got into a bunch of fish by dead drifting egg patterns and buggers slow and deep. Since fishing eggs to stockers is far too easy for any self respecting angler to do, I stuck with streamers and didn't land quite as many.

I did finally resort to drifting a nymph under an indicator and found a few willing bows that filled in the gaps between chipping ice out of my guides.

We fished until about 4:00 and headed for home where playoff football was waiting on the DVR. All in all, it was a successful day and it felt good to get out and catch some fish, although I'm ready for spring any time now...

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Starting the New Year on New Water

For the last few years, the Shenandoah Valley chapter of Trout Unlimited has been working with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries along with local landowners to open a new 4 mile section of special regulation water just outside of Waynesboro, VA. Several very large springs just above the upstream boundary of the new stretch keep the water temps trout friendly on a year round basis and the stream is full of insect life, sculpins and dace to keep the trout well fed. Studies have shown that the browns that have been stocked over the last couple years have shown tremendous growth rates and there are already some nice size fish in the stream.

This new fishery opened up on New Years Day and I was anxious to get out there and see it. I've been excited about the opening since I heard about it a few months back. Not only is it refreshing to see new water opening up amid the ever increasing trend of landowners locking down access, but it's also only about an hour and a half from Richmond. If all goes well, it will save me a lot of time and gas money.

I was hoping that New Years Eve festivities would keep most people home on opening day, but that didn't turn out to be the case. Plenty of other anglers made the trip and the stream turned out to be fairly crowded. The fishing was pretty slow - probably from all the pounding - but I managed to fool a few by swinging a soft hackle in front of them. Most of the trout are still pretty small and this fish is pretty typical. In a year or so, they should be nice size.

Things picked up considerably right before sunset and I picked up a better fish by slowly stripping a woolly bugger in a deep hole. Not a monster but not bad either, and not a bad way to start the year. My guess is that this fish was probably from last years stocking.

I really hope that all anglers follow the rules, respect private property and make the local community happy about this decision to open the stream. Nothing will get things shut down faster than a bunch of knuckleheads leaving trash all over the place or poaching the trout. I think the stream has a lot of potential and we need to take care of it.