Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Bushwhackin' Good Time

I've given myself the goal to visit as many streams within the Shenandoah National Park as my legs and lungs will stand. To that end, Marty, new guy Andrew, and I hit up another new crick today on the western slope. Once again, this stream has no trail and requires a substantial bushwhack to even get to it's upper reaches. From that point, you continue down as far as you like and fish your way back up. I was excited about the days prospects as soon as we parked the truck this morning but also knew that there was going to be some pain and suffering involved. This was our starting point - the creek is down there somewhere.


After the initial scramble down a very rugged hollow, we were greeted with this beautiful waterfall that's located on the upper reaches of the creek. We took a few minutes to admire it and continued on down the mountain.


Shortly thereafter, we came to another steep drop that forced us to take the long way around. This is the view from the bottom. As I snapped this photo I was thinking that I was not going to be having much fun making my way back up around these things at the end of the day.


We finally made it down to the point that we felt would give us plenty of water to fish and still make it out of there before darkness set in. Immediately we noticed fish hanging out near the surface - a welcome sight. I clipped off the nymph I had tied on at the truck and switched to a dry. It didn't take the fish long to show us that it was the right decision.



The morning clouds gave way to midday sun and it turned out to be a beautiful day on one of the hidden gems of the Park.


The shafts of light coming through the water made for a nice effect on this shot - a good brookie hanging out after the release.


There were a bunch of olives hatching as well as some stoneflies and little dark caddis. I was expecting to see some Quill Gordons but they never showed. They started hatching last year in February (in the snow) so I was surprised we didn't see a few. It didn't really matter though because pretty much any dry fly was drawing a strike in almost every pool.



Even the snakes were out enjoying the warm day - luckily we didn't encounter any of the dangerous kind. I entertained the thought of picking this little fella up to try to get over my girlish fear of snakes - but the idea quickly faded and I ended up wussing out.


We fished back up past the waterfalls and then made our way (slowly) back up to Skyline Drive, where I was happy to peel off the waders. The hike out did indeed involve some pain and suffering, especially for someone of my particular build, but was definitely worth it for that kind of fishing.

Edit: Sometimes in my excitement to post pictures or brag about a particular trip, I end up rushing the composition of a post. That's exactly what happened on this one, and after going back over it, I realized it needed a rewrite. So, for those that already read the original, this version is slightly different and hopefully a little better. I also finally figured out how to get bigger photos into my posts by posting links from photobucket instead of uploading them directly into blogger - duh.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Tying Desk

I sometimes wonder why I spend most of tying time searching through piles of stuff for a certain package of feathers or hair. One look at the state of confusion that my tying desk is in tonight answers that question pretty quick! I never seem to be able to tie multiple flies of the same pattern, instead preferring to tie one of this and one of that. This inevitably leads to piles of dubbing, feathers and who knows what else cluttering my desk and can send me on a 10 minute search for the hackle pliers or the whip finishing tool.

I'm sure my Mom would be disgusted...

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Old Favorite

I got back out on my favorite brookie stream in all the land today. This one never seems to disappoint, even when the fishing isn't all that great. I'm not really sure what it is about this little stream that makes it so special - it just is. There are other streams close by where you can catch more fish but there's always a chance of tying into a big one here. The canyon it runs through is steep and rugged and there are some surprisingly deep holes for a creek this diminutive. I guess it comes down to familiarity more than anything else. I've fished here countless times and have come to know it well. If I had to name a favorite creek among the 90 or so contained within the SNP, this one would be it.

Marty and I fished from fairly low all the way up to where the good water ends today. We caught some fish and, as usual, he did better than me. Even with our recent warming trend, the water was still stinging cold and we had to go deep with meaty nymphs to get any action. A black stone was the fly of the day for me.

A few fish chowed down on a green weenie...

This place is idyllic even in winter when the trees are bare, but you should see it in the spring when the wildflowers are blooming.

Sadly, I didn't tangle with any big fish today - this was the best I could manage. He came from the mother of all brookie holes and slammed the black stonefly.

A parting shot while he was sulking in shallow water before heading back to the depths. See you next time my friend.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Weekend's Fishin'

The weather has been bad enough around here lately, that 2 days in the low 50s with winds gusting 20 - 30 mph seemed like perfect fishing weather - so I went both days. I have been wanting to get back up on the uppermost stretch of my favorite spring creek for a while now. This stretch is an overgrown mess in the summer that's full of ticks, so I haven't been up there for a year or so. To me, it's the prettiest water on the creek.

Unfortunately, the fishing wasn't good and I took a skunking on my home water. I fished it hard from the top to the bottom, and had 2 strikes all day long - both of which I missed. These fish are very skittish about overhead threats and the bright sky kept most of the fish tucked away - but it was a nice day to be out anyway - even if I was dodging my back cast in the wind most of the day.

I met up with Marty on Sunday and we hiked into a remote stream in the SNP that we've been talking about trying for quite a while. There is no trail on this stream and it's chock full of fish, probably because of the lack of fishing pressure it receives.

The water was still a chilly 37 degrees and there was plenty of snow and ice, especially in the upper reaches. Even so, we caught a bunch of fish, mostly in the 4 - 6" range. I missed a couple better fish and saw plenty of good ones, so a return trip when things warm up is definitely in order.

There was a bunch of good dry fly water on this one so I really want to get back in there in March or April when the trout are more likely to be looking up.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Fly Tying with Davie McPhail

For those of you that enjoy watching fly tying videos as I do, check out Davie McPhail's set of vids on YouTube. Some of his flies probably aren't as useful on this side of the pond, but there are plenty that are and you can definitely pick up some useful tips and techniques. I really enjoy his tying style and comments on the various patterns. The accent is fun too.

Here he is tying an elk hair caddis with rubber legs: