Mossy Creek 6-27-2010

27 06 2010

Mossy friggin Creek. That’s right, I had an opportunity to fish Mossy Creek today and it didn’t disappoint. Anyone who’s remotely interested in trout fishing has heard of Mossy Creek. It’s arguably the top trout fishery in the state, known for big browns. If you’re unfamiliar with Mossy Creek, here’s a little light reading to get you up to date:

Virginia’s Top 5 Trout Streams
Snippet from Lefty Kreh’s Favorite Waters book (yeah THAT Lefty Kreh)

Rachel purchased a half day of guided trout fishing on Mossy for me for father’s day. What a great gift. I contacted Mossy Creek Fly Fishing to setup my appointment and it was determined I’d meet my guide and co-owner of the store, Brian Trow, at the Hardee’s in Bridgewater at 6:30am. It’s a 2 hour drive and I was so jacked up about this trip, I headed out at 4:15-ish am and got there about 6am. I spotted 2 ponds on my way into the town, one of which has no fishing posted and one that really looks like a water fountain with lots of lillies and muck. I had 30 mins to burn and had my froggin’ rod on my, so I decided to fish for a bit to waste some time. I minded the posted sign so hit the uglier, public of the two ponds. No bites, but this isn’t really why I drove out here.

I met up with Brian at Hardees and I was immediately surprised. I hadn’t checked out the guide page on Mossy Creek’s website, so I had no idea of Brian’s age. He’s a young guy, a few years younger than I….but make no mistake about it. Brian is a fantastic guide and really knows his stuff. He’s been fishing Mossy for 21 years and his knowledge of the water and of fly fishing in general is readily apparent once on the water. More on him later.

We hop in his truck and take a quick 5 minute ride to the private section of Mossy Creek. We get out and the creek is everything I thought it would be. Mossy is a beautiful, 15 foot wide clear water creek winding through farm pastures. There are tons of vegetation growing in deep pools and ample undercuts for big trout to hover under, waiting for the unsuspecting sculpin or insect to drift by. I snapped a few pictures:

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Brian wanted to check out my casting to see how much instruction I was going to need. As a surprise to me, Brian said everything looked pretty good with the exception of a lot of wrist action…something typical of folks who do a lot of brook trout fishing. This didn’t hurt my feelings seeing as I hadn’t casted a fly rod in close to 2 years and actually boosted my confidence quite a bit. I believe Brian’s words were, “Screw this, let’s get to fishing.” Right on!

Brian began by pointing out several Trico swarms and explaining how he uses them to determine when to throw dry flies. He also stated that nymphing was close to impossible and that the best fly for us would be streamers. We immediately get to work, with Brian explaining how to cast, where to cast, and how to manage my line around Mossy. I was down by the bank and fishing in no time. The morning starts off slow, we make several casts in an area and then walk down a few feet and cast some more. We continue this pattern, inching our way downstream. Brian changes out my fly several times; we’re working a white/copper streamer, a black bead head streamer, as well as a larger copper streamer all of which have names that escape me at this point. We continue working the undercut banks, vegetation, and deep pools with no fish moving at all. We see some risers in the creek, but no action around my fly.

Brian informs me that Mossy seems “slow” today, with noticeable disappointment in his voice. He also states I’m doing everything right; this is a much needed confidence boost as I have no idea if I’m doing things correctly. After an hour and a half or so with nothing to show, I get my first strike and bend of the rod. Brian immediately informs me it’s a fallfish, but at least I get to feel that familiar bend in the long rod again. It’s actually one of the larger fallfish I’ve seen. Brian removes it from the hook and returns it to the stream. We move on down the bank.

We continue to follow our pattern of swapping out flies, Brian identifying the angles and location to present my flies and how to let the current work my streamer into the best positions….followed by a “start stripping….strip…strip…strip”. As I have done the previous one and a half to two hours of the morning, I present my streamer to the inner side of some mid-stream vegetation and let the current bring the fly into the near side undercut. I start making longer, slower strips of the fly when I feel a familiar tug on the fly. I strip and lift the rod tip….fish on!!!! Brian immediately informs me I have a rainbow on line and he begins the instruction of getting the fish to the bank. We’ll land this one quickly so I can say I’ve caught my first Mossy Creek trout. I maneuver the rainbow to the bank and Brian scoops it up, all this was done in less than 30 seconds. Kick ass! My first Mossy Creek trout and certainly the biggest trout I’ve ever caught.

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I’m now on top of the world. We move down the creek a bit and start making more casts. Again, following the same pattern of throwing to the inside of mid-stream vegetation and letting the current swing our streamer out into deep pools, we see a very large, dark object slowly trailing my streamer back up stream as I strip it. Brian gets excited and starts instructing me on what to do…unfortunately I’m out of pool to work with. I pull the line out of the water and Brian changes to the largest of the streamers I threw for the day, a copper looking streamer on a size 4 hook. The dark shadow was easily the biggest trout I’ve ever seen in person. Brain confirmed it was a brown and described it as “having broad shoulders”. I can only assume this is a good thing. We pound this pool a bit more, but we can’t get the brown to come back out. That’s the Mossy I’ve read about! We continue moving downstream, I get a hit and a miss and I also end up landing another slightly larger rainbow, using the same techniques we’ve been using all morning.

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We approach the last stretch of creek and of my trip; this stretch has lots of shade and is protected by lots of overhanging branches. Brian spots a trout under some over hang but there’s durn near no way for me to get a fly in there (at least in my eyes). Brian coaches me up to try and get a fly in what seems like a 2’x4′ rectangle between 2 trees, allowing the dry fly to drift over top the hovering trout. The far bank has water that has little to no movement at all and the near bank’s current is swift. After several hang ups and false casts, I’m finally able to get the fly in the vicinity of where it needs to be, but the near bank current drags the dry fly out of the strike zone. This is too difficult of a spot for me, but Brian continues the instruction and encouragement trying to get the perfect cast. I make a few more decent casts, but the fly just won’t stay in the strike zone. When we’re about done, Brian takes the rod and makes one false cast and puts the fly exactly where it needs to be and the fly magically floats overtop the hovering trout. While the trout doesn’t strike, I’m amazed at how Brian got the fly not only in the appropriate area, but made the fly stay put so it would not drag into the current (and on the first cast). He explains he performed a “pile cast”, something I’ve never heard of but he explained how you do it and what it does for you. Again, Brian is top notch and this little “let me see if I can get it” was just exemplary of the skill level he has.

We continue on towards the end of this stretch, signaling the end of my day. Brian states that there are always trout in this last pool, but they’re in a rather difficult place to reach. As has been customary the entire morning, Brian instructs how to get the fly in the area I need it to be. A few casts and I’m unsuccessful. Brian informs me to not be afraid to put it into the far side bank’s vegetation and let the fly fall in, something I’ve never really done on purpose while fly fishing. I perform as commanded and get the perfect cast. As the streamer swings under neath an overhang and into the giant pool, Brian tells me to start stripping the streamer. As the streamer comes out from under the overhang, what looks like a giant log with fins rolls out from under the tree and begins trailing my fly. Brian can hardly contain his excitement and yells “Oh man did you see that!??!!?”. It’s a massive trout, easily the biggest I’ve ever seen (again). I’m unsure of the size but I can tell it was sizable by how excited Brian is at this point. He tells me this fish is about the size of the previous 2 trout put together, probably around 25 inches and 6 pounds. Brian gets a big grin and explains that I need to do that impossibly difficult cast again to get it in the vicinity of the pig but he has all the confidence I can do it. I make a cast and it goes no where near where we need it. No worries, pick up and cast again. I get lucky and I put the fly where it needs to be. Again, I start stripping when commanded and again, out rolls the goliath and opens his mouth. I don’t feel anything but Brian screams “Oh man he had it in its mouth!!!!” Surely at this point the fish was lost, right? I know what cast to make and make a 3rd impossible cast, out rolls the beast again and this time I feel that familiar tug on the fly. I lift my rod up…FISH ON!!!! I catch Brian out the corner of my eye bolt in the opposite direction of me to drop his pack and get the landing net ready. I immediately feel a burn on my index finder that I use to hold the fly line against the rod…you don’t get that sensation chasing small brookies. Brian yells out “give him a little line”, so I attempt to ease a little line out to the giant trout that’s now thrashing his head on the surface. POP. Out pops the fly and it sails over top my head. I can sense the disappointment in Brian’s voice, but he confirms that I did everything right, sometimes the trout just wins. What a memorable fish. It’s a shame I didn’t land it but I’ll never forget that feeling, it’ll be what keeps me coming back to Mossy.

We hit one more small pool and while I missed a strike here, my day really ended at the previous pool. We talk about the big trout some more and I get a few pointers on how to keep the trout down if possible, but again Brian informs me I did everything right. We walk our way along the creek, making our way back to the truck. Brian does some more instructing and we talk about the day I’ve had. While I had a blast, he lets me know that this was a tough day and things are normally a bit “hotter”. I can’t imagine as this was everything I hoped it would be. I can’t wait to get back to Mossy Creek and fish again. I plan on hitting the public section but I can’t imagine trying to fish the creek without the impeccable instruction of a knowledgable guide. If you’re serious about trout fishing in Virginia, I highly recommend fishing Mossy Creek and giving Mossy Creek Fly Fishing a call. You’ll be very happy you did.

For all pics, check out my Picasa album for this trip.

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2 responses

28 06 2010
jahndamonium

It’s always good to see someone so happy to go fishing. Nice fish, great day, good work.

12 02 2011
Mossy Creek Public Section 2-7-2011 « Tight Lines and Tight Deadlines

[…] have fished the private stretch of Mossy once and while this is still technically Mossy Creek, the public stretch looks MUCH different. It […]

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