Beaver Creek 2-12-2011

12 02 2011

I had a day to myself and after Mossy Creek earlier in the week, I had the trout itch that needed to be cured (not to mention my trout season beard is in full now). I decided I was going to try some new waters on this day so I headed west again from Richmond to the Shenandoah Valley…Beaver Creek. I’m constantly on Mossy Creek Fly Fishing’s website, checking conditions and looking at all the pictures of monster fish they catch in the local creeks. Beaver Creek is no exception in their trophy gallery so I was hoping I could finally catch that monster trout I’ve been looking for. Beaver Creek only has 4 rod passes per day and it’s first come first serve so I knew I’d have to get up early.

BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! My body’s internal clock wakes me up at 5:45am, a whole 15 mins before my REAL alarm was supposed to go off. While I’m excited about my opportunity to fish today, the desire to sleep almost won over. I’m glad I got out of bed…

I get to the Ottobine Country store at about 7:45-ish, get my pass (I was the 2nd of the day), and head up stream to Ottobine Elementary where I park and start to pull myself together. My leader is a bit short so I pull out an extra long piece of tippet and tie it on. As I’m clipping my tag ends on the connector knot, I cut the wrong piece and my tippet falls to the ground. Awesome way to start the day…

I get all my junk together and get over to the creek. It’s a beautiful, narrow creek running through pastures and a small wooded area. I start at a small foot bridge where the current is swift. It’s been a while since I fished anything other than a streamer, so I take out a bead head prince nymph, put on a strike indicator, and get to knocking the rust off a bit. I spend the next 30 mins or so working on my casting and drift technique with a nymph, it’s probably been 2 or 3 years since I fished this way. I keep moving upstream, with plenty of eddies, slackwater, and seams to fish but I’m not spooking any trout nor am I seeing any. I take out my thermometer and shove it in the water…I get a reading of 40F. I thought this was a spring fed creek so I was expecting it to be warmer; I chalk it up to a broken thermometer.

I carelessly keep moving up stream, not keeping a low profile when I notice the water has become deeper and more still and I see a fairly large trout swim away upstream. I should have been stalking a bit more and a little less careless, hopefully I didn’t spook the hole. I had placed several casts in front of this trout with the nymph and he didn’t take it before it swam off, so I decided I should switch over to the trout crack (kreelex). I make several more casts into this rather large, slow moving pool and get no hits. Well must not be anything in here other than the one fish I spooked, so I jump up to my feet to move on….SPOOOOOOOK!!!! About 10 spooked trout start darting all over the place, looking for cover. They must have all been stacked up on the bottom. Again, should have been a little more patient and worked the kreelex a little more diligently. Hopefully I didn’t kill the best hole I’d see for the day. 20 more minutes working the hole without a sniff and my worry was confirmed.

I head back to the footbridge and just below it, is a beautiful riffle with a very large pool below it. The following picture was taken from the back side of the pool, looking up to the top of the pool where the riffle enters.

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I still had the kreelex on, so I cast to the opposite bank and let the fly fall and swing into the center of the pool. As I’m stripping the line goes tight and the rod doubles over….FISH ON!!!! Holy crap, line starts pulling off and something hits the surface. That can’t be the fish on my line, it’s the size of an alligator! You would think one would be able to remember every moment of the best trout fight of their lives, but honestly the next 10 minutes are a blur. I spent so much effort concentrating on fighting the fish and giggling like a child with joy. The huge trout made several jumps shaking its head, a few long runs (pulled line off my reel..wow it’s nice to hear drag on a fly rod), tried to break me off in the riffle’s current, and just wouldn’t let me get it anywhere near the bank. I was fishing with my 3wt with 4x tippet and I just knew it was going to break, but it held on for me. I finally get the fish to the bank and attempt to net it with my very undersized trout net (note to self, get a new bigger net). When I get the fish a few feet away from the bank and lay it down, I can’t believe the size.

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I caught a large rainbow at Suzi Q back in December and this fish only had 3 or 4 inches of length on that other fish, but this fish outclassed the other by its girth big time. I’m unsure of the weight of this trout, but take a look at it compared to my hand.

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This was a monster trout that has to have been at least 5 pounds and I’m estimating it at 24 inches in length (using my rod for comparisons). Easily the biggest trout I’ve ever caught. I quickly snap a few pics (sure wish someone was there to take a picture of me WITH the fish) and get it back in the water. I revive it and ensure it swims away safely…hopefully he’ll be there for someone else to catch another day. I tell you what though, I bet it won’t be snapping at any gold/copper kreelex flies ever again 😀

Not sure how I’m going to top that one. I continue to fish and enter a wooded area that reminded me more of a Virginia brook trout stream….and I proceeded to fish it like one. I lost several kreelex flies and even a wooly bugger to over hanging limbs and branches and didn’t see any fish. I exited the wooded area and came to about a 1/4 miles stretch of stream improvements the Massanutten Trout Unlimited chapter has done. Let me tell you, the stream looks FANTASTIC. I didn’t see any fish holding in this section today, hopefully when the water warms up the fish will spread out. There are tons of log jams, mid stream boulders, k-dams, etc in this stretch…it definitely looks the part of trout water. I wish I would have taken more pictures here, TU really did an amazing job.

I finished the day at about noon and head back to the Ottobine Country Store for some lunch. I bought what is one of the best ham and cheese subs I’ve ever eaten for $4.50. If you fish Beaver Creek, do order lunch here. It’s awesome.

On a small side note, after I finished up I headed over to Mossy Creek to finish my day. There were 2 anglers parked at Route 42 and 4 anglers parked at the church. Coupled with the strong wind that blew in during the morning, there was nothing doing at Mossy. I did manage to catch another 12″ fallfish…damn creek chubs.

Picasa album of Beaver Creek.





Mossy Creek Public Section 2-7-2011

7 02 2011

My friend and co-worker Matt is having his first child at the beginning of March, so we wanted to get out and do some “last minute” fishing before the little one arrived. We decided we were going to hit the public stretch of Mossy Creek the 2nd-ish week of February and let the weather dictate which day. Unfortunately the best day hit on the day after the Superbowl, so that meant I was going to have watch my partying during the big game. I did and I was able to get up and meet Matt at 7am. We drive the 2 hours west of Richmond and park at the church on Mossy Creek Rd by about 9 am, no one else is here. While pulling ourselves together, Matt spots a bobcat or some wild animal and runs over to get a better look, but it scurries off. Strange start to the day. We get all geared up and head over to the stream.

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I have fished the private stretch of Mossy once and while this is still technically Mossy Creek, the public stretch looks MUCH different. It doesn’t feel as deep, the holes don’t seem as long, the undercuts are not quite as defined, it just looks more difficult to fish (not to mention all the pressure it gets). Matt immediately settles down into a spot right above the iron bridge and starts casting down towards the bridge. I imagine this area gets hit pretty hard, but it was worth a try. We’ve got 3 miles of public water to fish, might as well hit as much water as we can.

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We make our way upstream, trying to hit all the deep holes, runs, and logjams we can find. We’re both casting Kreelex flies, one in gold/copper and one in gold/silver but neither of us are even getting sniffs. We see a few trout but nothing is interested in our flies. I change over to a green bead head wooly bugger with rubber legs, but still not getting much.

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We make it to the first cattle crossing and cross over and continue to fish. Along this stretch, I notice a couple of risers, hitting who knows what on the surface. I don’t see a hatch but I spot one trout hit the surface in the same area about 10 times. I lose the kreelex streamer and tie on a BWO in size 18 hoping to get a hit. I throw my BWO above the sipping trout and let the fly drift down…nice cast it drifts right over where the trout was hitting the surface…but I get nothing. I continue to make another 15 or 20 casts with not even a sniff. I guess I spooked it with probably a sucky drag-laden drift. I pull up and start to tie back on a streamer when all of a sudden….SLURP! The same trout hits the surface again. Damn fish!

Matt had made his way around me and was fishing upstream when I hear a “Hey I got one!!!” Jubilation sets in as I realize we’ve finally got signs of trout life! I drop all my gear and run down to take a picture of what I hope is a 12″ brown. While it wasn’t the big whopper I was hoping for, we at least wiped the skunk off and Matt now has his first Mossy Creek trout landed.

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We noticed a couple of old timers have showed up and they’re making a bee line for the stream section above of us. We’ve fished about a half mile upstream from the iron bridge and know there’s a lot of Mossy below it, so we let the old timers take that section and we make our way back to the iron bridge. Along the way, we come back to an area we had previously fished and noticed that some cows had set up shop right by the creek bank. I snap a couple of pictures as it seems like a nice, photo op.

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While standing at looking at the cows, we notice that one of them is a bit “jittery”; it’s jumping up on its hind legs and seems to have a bit more “life” to it. As we’re walking away, this particular cow starts to follow us. At this point, Matt and I look at each other and ask aloud “Hey man do cows attack people?”, jokingly. We turn around and noticed that not only is the ornery cow following us, but the other 8 or 9 or so are now following as well. We pick up the pace. We propose the cow attack joke again, still giggling about the thought of it while we pick up our pace even more. We turn around to look and the cows have also picked up their pace, almost to a gallop. While I did grow up in the east end of Richmond, I’m not all that familiar with bovine behavior. I’m unsure if I should be afraid for my life, if I should run, or turn around and make myself as big as possible and make a lot of noise. At this point, hilarity has now turned to a little bit of fear. I ask Matt how fast he is, “Fast enough” he responds. I’m thinking I just need to be faster than him. We start to jog. I turn around to look and the cows are now in full gallop. Matt and I begin sprinting. I haven’t sprinted since 2008 or so, but I’m amazed and how quick I can become when forced to…all while in full fishing attire: waders, wading boots, backpack, net, rod, etc, etc. We sprint about 100 yards and start to walk again. I’m damn near out of breath. Turn around to look and the cows are still coming. Man these things are faster than you think! We start to sprint again…another 150 yards and this time put enough distance between us and the cows that they are no longer pursuing us. Matt and I are in stitches about the thought of attacking cows, but glad they’re no longer chasing us. Good opportunity to break for lunch.

After lunch we head down below the iron bridge and start making our way downstream. There’s a lot less to this story than the first, because we covered a lot of water and only spooked a few fish and didn’t catch anything. Well I did catch 2 large fallfish, but it should probably be left not discussed. The further we traveled from the iron bridge, the “worse” the water got. While there was a hole or two to fish, most of the water was flat with very little structure, nothing for a trout to use. The walk way eventually got so choked up with brush, we turned around and headed back. I’ll probably never fish this far downstream from the iron bridge, it seemed worthless.

On the way back, more cows had surfaced again….this time around 30. Some where along the line we had determined my red backpack was the reason for the charging cattle, so Matt made me walk 50 yards in front of him as we passed the cows. Luckily none of them charged, so I didn’t need to sprint again.

We fished the section below the iron bridge again for another 45 mins before we left. I managed to make a once in a life time cast to an undercut and managed to coax out the largest fish seen of the day, 16″+ brown but he merely sniffed my fly and went back to his resting place. I then spent the next 15 minutes making cast after cast hoping to get him back out…but nothing. We call it a day around 4:30pm. 7+ hours on Mossy Creek and all we had to show for it was a 6″ brown and 2 giant creek chubs. That’s Mossy for you!

Picasa Album





Susi Q Farm 12-21-2010

21 12 2010

Justin was coming into town for a few days for Christmas so we had planned on doing some fishing. We originally had a light line HRBT trip planned, but due to the 3 weeks of arctic conditions we’ve had, we figured we would get much action in the Bay. We opted for some trout fishing on Susi Q Farm, a private stretch of Smith Creek that is managed by Mossy Creek Fly Fishing.

We get to Susi Q and as we’re exiting the truck, acknowledge the 11F temperature reading on my truck. It’s damn cold. I’m warm natured anyways, so didn’t think the weather would be bothering me. I was worried about Justin. After getting my 3wt in order, strung up and with a streamer tied on, I look over to Justin and he’s not moving very fast (guess it was the cold).

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We finally get ourselves together and jump right into the section of creek in front of the parking lot. The water is deep on the opposite bank, so we start banging our streamers up against that bank. This is a giant pool with not a lot of movement in the water, some place I probably wouldn’t spend a lot of time searching for trout. I saw one trout hit the surface but couldn’t get any takers so we move down stream.

Right below a really large riffle and run was what looked to be the perfect trout pool. The pool had eddies on both sides, deep water, a root ball on the far bank, and eventually changed elevation to 1′ at the back of the pool…it was perfect. I offer the pool up to Justin confident there would be fish in this pool, but he told me to take it. I make a few casts into the tail of the pool, but don’t see anything nor do I get any strikes. I throw to the opposite eddy and strip the streamer through the pool, this time I get a following trout. holy moly this thing is huge, it looks like a brown. He turns around and nonchalantly swims away when the gets to the near bank, as I’m pulling my fly out of the water. I immediately throw back to the same location and get a strike, lift the rod tip…FISH ON!!!! The rod doesn’t double over so I know it wasn’t the brown I just saw. After a short fight, I land the first trout of the day, an average sized rainbow.

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We continue fishing downstream. I land another average sized rainbow and that was followed by an hour and a half of no action. It’s still insanely cold; we have to clear our guides every 5th or 6th cast due to ice forming. We backtrack to the pool in front of the parking lot and I start working the far bank methodically. I enter the creek to attempt to get better angles for casts this time, casting from downstream to upstream. I get hot…I land around 5 rainbows in a 30 minute span in this section. At this point, I’ve caught 6 fish and Justin hasn’t landed any so he comes down and starts casting from the bank, throwing in the area where I’ve been pulling them in. He gets a strike and lands his first ever trout on the fly!

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We continue fishing upstream from the parking lot, covering some good water. Although the creek looks low, there are still several trouty looking pools that we hit hard. Things are slowing down a bit so we decide to head over to the flyshop, get some new flies and some tips, grab some lunch, then head back to the stream.

Armed with several crystal buggers and kreelex streamers, we continue to work upstream from the parking lot as instructed by the flyshop. Most of the good water is up this way. We get to the famous “waterfall pool” and take up spots to give us some space between each other. I go on to land several more rainbows in this pool, some on the kreelex some on the crystal bugger. Justin’s still struggling a bit and didn’t pull in any in this pool, but he’ll heat up soon enough.

We continue upstream and while I get a chaser or two, we have no takers. We get to the end of the property and Justin gets hot in the large pools here. He pulls in 6 or 7 trout, all rainbows, out of this area while I go cold. It’s starting to get late so we start to think about heading back to the truck. We’ve lost all but 1 of the kreelex flies, so I tell Justin I’m keeping that one for the large brown follower from earlier in the morning. We head back to the waterfall pool and fish here a bit more. We both pull in several trout from here before we start making our way back to the parking lot. Justin decides to hit the big pool in front of the parking lot one more time while I head over to the big pool containing the brown.

I tie on my kreelex and start to feel my adrenaline pumping. If any fly can get that brown to bite, tis’g going to be the kreelex right? I make a few casts into the opposite eddy, where I had the follower and the strike earlier in the morning. I get nothing. I make a few casts right into the heart of pool where the water enters from the riffle, I get nothing there. I tell myself I’m going to make 2 more casts in the near side eddy before I pack it up and head home. First cast is perfect, it lands at the the head of the eddy. I let the fly sink for a few seconds and then give the streamer a couple of strips. The line goes tight so I lift my rod tip….FISH ON!!!! My rod doubles over and there’s much more weight on the end than any of the other fish I’ve caught for the day. The fish hits the surface and I get a good glimpse, it’s a sizable rainbow, probably 2 times the size of anything we’ve caught today. I begin shrieking like a little girl, telling Justin to come over so he can get some pics. After what seems like a 5 minute fight, I finally land the big rainbow. It’s easily the biggest trout I’ve ever landed. While not the big brown I was looking for all day, I was certainly happy with this catch.

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I release the trout as we did for all others and I call it a day. I’m going to go out on a great note. I head over to the parking lot pool where Justin is wrapping up his day by landing his final rainbow.

Susi Q was a blast and I’d love to get back and try it again. While the water was low and provided for “different” fishing conditions than I’d typically see with trout fishing, I’m fairly certain when the water is up fishing would be a bit more technical. Either way, I’ll be back.

All pictures from the day





Redfishville Shootout 10-9-2010

9 10 2010

You’ll have to excuse me if I can’t remember everything about this tournament. It happened nearly 2 months ago. I should have blogged about it when I first came back, but after the scouting blog, things got busy with work and school.

So after the extremely long day of scouting, Justin and I headed over to the Captain’s Meeting at Charleston Angler. We found out there were about 30 entrants into the tourney. After finding this out, we discussed strategy and thought the flat we fished for most of the day today would probably be crowded. We decided we would try and fish a flat to the north of the landing, a place Justin had waded a few times in the past with success. Before I came down, Justin sent me a Google map with a few points on them to put into my handheld GPS, the location of this flat was one of them so we shouldn’t have any difficulty finding it.

That morning we get to the launch much later than everyone else as launch site is packed. Kayaks are lined up and ready to go and our stuff is still all packed up. Water is still coming in and fishing time isn’t prime yet so, we’re not too worried. Since our strategy was to go in the opposite direction from everyone else, we were in no hurry to stake out a spot on the flat. We immediately make the northward turn and start paddling up the creek. Since we’re paddling with the tide, paddling isn’t too difficult. I’m following a track to one of the points in my GPS, so it’s not too difficult to get lost…or so we thought. We get into some thick grass and seem to be turned around. I keep telling Justin we’re heading straight for the point and a road is to the east of us, but he informs me there is no road in front of the flat we’re heading to. We get to the flat that I think we’re supposed to head to when Justin takes a look at the GPS…it seems as though we’ve been heading towards the wrong flat. He had several marked and I misunderstood where we were supposed to go. We still have plenty of time before the flat is completely flooded, so we start walk/dragging our kayaks to the appropriate flat.

Just and I had also determined we were going to fly fish the flats on this day. We were both determined to catch a Red on the fly and this would be a perfect opportunity. We get our fly rods ready and start stalking the flat. The fog was thick so it made fishing interesting at first.

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This is where my memory will fail me, but I can tell you I did a lot of stalking, a little bit of casting, not a lot of seeing/catching of fish. I didn’t see anything..nada..nothing. Justin claims he saw several and even cast to one several times but couldn’t get it to nibble. The tide peaks and the flat becomes impossible to fish, so we jump back in our kayaks and attempt to fish, but we’re fairly certain we won’t catch anything. We ready for the outgoing tide.

As the tide starts to leave the flat we get back out of the kayaks and start to stalk again, with fly rods in hand. Again, probably an hour and a half dedicated to talking, I didn’t see anything. I don’t think Justin saw anything either. We decide to head south to the main flat, where we knew most of everyone was going to fish. Taking the water out with the tide was just as easy as paddling with it in. We get to our destination in 20 mins. We start to pass fellow anglers fishing the tournament so we ask how others are doing. “So and so caught 6 or 8 fish, largest being 29. Such and such caught 5. So and so’s dad caught a 31-incher.” Well, so much for competing in the tourney, but we knew we wouldn’t do well fishing fly rods and artificials.

Fish are exiting the flat at this point so there is a line of anglers staked out in the Sound, trying to snag Reds as they leave the grass. Justin and start throwing to the grass hoping to catch something. After 15 or 30 minutes, Justin paddles off the line to go look at a few other creeks that exit into the Sound. I continue moving down the line, hoping to nail something. I see a fellow angler snag a stingray and over hear that’s his 3rd or 4th one of the day. I find a small creek existing the flats so I start to concentrate my casts here. The increasing volume of the sound of Redfish crashing bait is intoxicating. I HAVE to catch something.

After what feels like 100 casts, I finally get a tap-tap on my rod, as I’m retrieving my jig head with gulp shrimp, about 15 yards from the line of grass. I swing to set the hook and line starts TEARING off back to the flat. FISH ON!!!!! Within 3 seconds I have probably 50 yards of line off my reel, 30 of it now vanished into the tall, thick grass. My drag is still screaming, the Red is trying to lose me in the grass. I’m only fishing 15lb test, so I don’t have a lot of confidence in landing this fish. I can tell that the fish is definitely larger than the small slottie I caught the day before, but considering I’m fighting it and the grass and I can’t tell how big. I try pulling on the fish but not fighting too hard as I don’t want to break him off. At this point I’ve been pulled back into the grass, which helps stabilize me during the fight. After 7 or 8 minutes of gaining and losing ground, I finally get the fish boat side. I get a quick glimpse of it and it makes a mad dash back into the thick grass. Another 4 or 5 minutes and I have managed to not only not break my line, but get the Red boat side to land. I get my lippers and pull it out of the water.

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What a beautiful fish. He measures between 26″ and 27″, easily the biggest Red I’ve ever caught. I’m hoping that maybe I’ll place with this fish (I found out later that 4 other guys caught fish that were 27″, so fat chance). I give out a quick “WOO HOO”, put him on the Hawg Trough, take a couple of pics, and release the fish. I’m normally taking pictures of 18″ LMBs so attempting to get get all 27″ of this fish into a picture proved rather difficult.

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I fish for another hour or so with not so much as a nibble and call it a day. Justin and I head home to clean up before the weigh in and come back to the landing for the results. The winner caught a 29″ Red (I think) with 2nd and 3rd places having 28″-ish fish. The one 31″ was disqualified due to lack of a good picture. At least I boated a nice fish, it made my day.

The tournament was a blast and I’ll be heading back next year. I think next time I’ll try fishing with bait to increase my chances of landing a few fish.

All my pics





Long Roddin’ for Bluegills 7-9-2010

9 07 2010

Ever since my Mossy Creek trip, I’ve been thinking about getting out all my fly fishing gear. For those of you that don’t know me, I started freshwater fishing (after growing up saltwater fishing on the Chesapeake for Spot, Croaker, Flounder, etc) when I was living in the New River Valley from 2006 – 2008. I was fly fishing for trout in small mountain streams in the fall and spring and fishing for smallmouth and bluegills in the New River in the summer. I had put up my fly fishing gear in leu of conventional tackle when I moved to Richmond and bought my kayak.

I got out my stuff last weekend and after Rachel and Sadie were in bed tonight, I set out to Robious Landing Park. There’s a dock here that crew boats use to load/unload so I picked out a spot there and got ready to cast with my TFO 3-weight. There are about 8 people on the dock and most of them start to watch me as I begin the 10 o’clock to 2 o’clock arm movement of the fly angler’s cast. I’m throwing a size 12-ish ant pattern with some crystal flash and I’m expecting big things. I immediately hook into what feels like a really small fish…so on a 3 weight I know it’s tiny. Pull him in and I immediately hear the teenager behind me say “awwwww” to the 2-inch bluegill that is now flopping on the dock. Yeah…real big fish. I continue to cast for 25 minutes or so and while the fish are slurping the surface around my fly, none of them manage to get it in its mouth. I determine I need to size down the fly and tie on a size 16 hopper.

I move over to the boat launch and start roll casting to the brush pile about 10 feet away. I immediately get a hit from a much larger bluegill this time. While its only 5 inches or so, it puts up a great battle on a 3wt. I continue roll casting to the brush pile and end up hooking into 4 more bluegill, all about 4 to 5 inches in length. These things are great fun on a 3wt!!!! It’s 8:55pm and the park closes at 9pm, however I haven’t gotten the fishing out of my system for the evening so I head to a local apartment complex pond.

I’ve fished this apartment complex pond before for bass and have caught them from 8″ to 12″. I assume there’s bluegill in here as well so I get to casting. Within the first 5 casts, I get a 4 or 5 inch bluegill on. Another fun fight on the 3wt and another fish released. I go on to catch 2 or 3 others, sometimes sight casting to surface disturbance to get my strikes. I spot some more surface disturbance and throw my hopper over into the area. As my hopper is sitting there, I notice the surface disturbance stops. Hmm…wonder what’s going on? SPLASH!!!! The line tightens up and my now instinctive reaction kicks in to raise the rod tip. This is no bluegill, this is a bass!!!!!! About the same time I get my rod to the apex of my fighting stance, the line goes slack. SHOOT! Hopper broke off. I’m using 6x tippet and while it’s rated for more than what these bass weigh, I’m sure my knot tying skills with line this light is quite rusty. I immediately get charged about catching a bass on a 3wt so I run back to my truck to get my fly box.

I then spend the next 20 mins trying to tie a size 12 black wooly bugger on a 6x tippet in the only light I could find, my interior truck light. Tying an improved clinch knot with 6x tippet on small flies is difficult as is, try doing it when there’s hardly any light!!!! I finally got it tied and ran back over to the water. I then start the typical streamer fly routine of casting out and stripping back in. Cast….strip…strip…strip…strip…pick up…and repeat. About the 6th cast into the original bass strike area, I get the familiar feel of my fly line going tight and I go to lift the rod tip up…..the fly breaks off again. Damnit I’ve really lost fishing with light fly tackle. It certainly had to be another bass. I wasn’t going to spend another 20 mins trying to tie on another fly so I head home. I know the bass in this pond probably haven’t seen flies much, if at all, so I’m going to tie on some stronger tippet and head back soon. I’ll be reporting back later.





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.