Too Much Fly Fishing? May 23-26, 2014

The title says it all: I fished a lot this past weekend.  While I enjoyed every minute, – the hiking, the views, the art of casting, losing flies in the brush, catching fish – I thought maybe I fished more than my utility allocated for the activity.  Looking back, I feel a substitution for a hike or some worthwhile reading – on fishing, of course – may have created more happiness.  However, I desire not to change the past for fear of the butterfly effect. Therefore, I look back on the weekend with no regrets. Although, I fished a lot, I enjoyed it; all of it, I think.

After the ever-typical 7 to 3:30 Friday shift, I made my way back to the apartment where a large gray Great Dane waited. My brother’s dog, Gigi decided to come spend the weekend with me.  Although, Gigi is a nice dog, she never visited my apartment before.  Therefore, her eight hour stay in a strange place without human contact probably lacked calm tranquility.  Once I arrive, she happily wagged her tail, whined out of joy to see a face, and then plopped down on my bed.  She look so comfortable that I decided to join her.  We napped for an hour or so. Then, we went for a run. She handles very well on the leash. For the most part, I jogged beside her brisk walk and let the leash lay at her side.  I like dogs. Their companionship to humans appears to be second to none. However, I need not a dog.  My siblings and parents have them.  Therefore, I get my fill of canine comradery.  After showering and leaving Gigi at my place, I made my way to an event my girlfriend organized for her boss.  I helped set up, ate, and spoke with a few people I don’t know.  I then picked up Gigi and heading for the parent’s.  As stated earlier, she never stayed at my apartment before and she knows my parent’s well. I thought she would be more comfortable there.

Once I dropped Gigi off at the parent’s, I headed back into the metropolis of Culpeper to listen to The Dry Run Band. One of my girlfriend’s cousins plays in the band.  They play a blend of country, southern rock, rock, and blues.  Although, I hate country, I mind not their other numbers. We drank more than we should, then returned to my parent’s for the night. Although Gigi stays at my parent’s from time to time, she lacked peaceful sleep and woke me multiple times.  If I remember correct, my first words when I woke that morning resembled something along the lines of, I hate dogs.

I dropped Gigi off at my girlfriend’s because she lives on several acres. Gigi would have plenty of room to roam.  My girlfriend’s cat, Bougie, also seemed to be quite entertained with Gigi. Bougie bossed Gigi around.  It was cute. One of my friends, Johann, who I recently convinced to purchase the essentials for fly fishing joined me.  He purchased his outfit about a month ago and due to the high river level of the Rappahannock had yet to give it a try.

I took him to a couple locations: the first was my cousin, Brian’s place on the Thorton River.  I showed him how to set up his rod, tie a fly on, and the basic approach to cast.  Although we saw a few nice trout, we only caught  a few chubs and a sunfish. We lost a few flies as well, which proved quite frustrating.  With the recent rains, the lush green colors of nature overwhelmed me.  The beautiful and ever-changing display of the earth rarely disappoints me.  We used Murray’s Marauders size 12 in black as well as in white. They worked well. However, at $3.50 a pop, they’re not cheap, especially when you lose several.


Murray’s Marauders in black and white as well as a Besty Streamer. Photo courtesy of Murray’s Fly Shop’s Website 

After a few hours here we headed to the Robinson River. Again, the clear river water, thick green tree cover, and the sun shining on both humbled me.  I showed Johann how to roll cast and we fished.  He caught nothing here and I managed only a small rock bass. When we left I felt a little upset because I wanted my friend to catch a nice trout or two.  However, he shared no similar feeling.  He enjoyed getting out in nature and learning some new fly fishing techniques.  Therefore, I quickly discarded my trout-less thoughts.

Rock Bass on the Robinson River. He took a Murray’s Marauder in black size 12.

I spent the afternoon playing FIFA 2014 of Xbox 360.  Even though QPR sacked me in my sophomore season at the club, I enjoyed playing the game.  With school, work, and outdoor activities, my recent FIFA binges have been few and far between.  Hopefully they stay that way.  However, like I said, I enjoyed playing for a couple hours. I spent Saturday night at my girlfriend’s. We watched an episode, or two of Once Upon a Time. Gigi stayed with the parent’s that night, which I liked. It allowed me to get a little more rest. I will add however, that Bougie likes to waken humans from their slumber as well. So, I slept better, but far from perfect.

Sunday morning, I woke and headed to the Rose River for a couple hours.  At 2 PM I needed to report to AT&T in Fredericksburg to switch phone carriers.  Sadly, I woke late so my time on the Rose lacked longevity.  I left my rod outfit intact from the day before. So, I quickly dressed and started hiking up the Rose River Fire Trail.  I walked briskly for about 15 minutes.  I found what I thought looked like a nice area to start.  I climbed down some boulders, as the river ran about 50 yards off to my right.  Once I arrived, I noticed a fellow fly fisherman coming up the stream towards me.  I arrived too late.  He started on the river first and therefore, I felt obliged to move on. We exchanged a few words.  He fished nymphs with a strike indicator, I fished drys. Specifically, I used the normal Mr. Rapidan Dry Fly. I believe I used a size 16. I hiked up another 10 minutes.  Time being tight combined with my tardiness allowed for the introduction of fear.  Maybe I just showed up too late? Maybe all the locations on this popular stream were spoken for?   While walking, I came upon a section of the river which runs right beside the fire road. I thought, why not? I’m limited on time and need to get in the water.  I started fishing and within a few minutes had my first bite.

Photo: Good morning Mr. Brook Trout #snp #brooktrout

Brook Trout from the Rose River. Seems like the smaller ones have less coloration. 

A soon found out the reason for this river’s popularity.  I fished for roughly an hour in some really nice long runs.  I landed three or four trout and many more escaped either when taking the fly or while I pulled them in.  I even pulled multiple fish out of the same hole.  This excited me. I never landed multiple trout from the same stretch before. Although I wished to stay longer, I needed to head back.  However, I will be back on this stream sooner rather than later, for sure.

Corey and I met my oldest brother, Patrick, and sister-in-law, Avelyn, in Fredericksburg. We switched phone service providers (lower monthly rates) and gave Gigi back. Then, we headed back to the parent’s in Culpeper.  Although I felt a little tired from the driving, I still possessed the itch. I tried to convince Corey to come fish a mountain stream with me. However, he declined. I think the power of FIFA overcame him.

Since I fished it last weekend and knew a nice hole where a large trout held, I decided to head back to Brokenback Run. I knew people said to fish dry flies in the afternoon/evening due to the high amount of hatches, but I found it hard to believe the number of insects.  They surrounded everything, including my face. I honestly found it more difficult to fish with the dry in the afternoon due to three things.  The high number of insects hatching provided fierce competition. Why should that trout take my imitator over the real one? Secondly, I found it difficult to focus with all the bugs flying around my face.  I put on insect repellent but it hardly kept anything away.  The aspect I found most difficult was the eastward flow of the stream.  With the sun setting in the west, this created a strong glare. I could hardly read the water, let alone spot a trout or my fly. I caught a couple little guys (four inchers). However, the larger trout who I specifically came to catch evaded me.  I saw him jump for my fly but I reacted too slow. Hopefully next time I’ll land him.

I will say I enjoyed this trip. Even though it proved challenging, I experienced evening fly fishing in the mountains.  Just watching the hatch, with the sun glazing through the tree provided a very relaxing experience.  Little yellow and white flies flew about with a fairy-like presence. I hiked back and spent the night at my girlfriend’s.

With Monday being Memorial Day and my girlfriend working for a politician, she naturally attended an event to celebrate and remember the many people who serve(d) this country.  I however, looked at her work commitment as just another reason to go fly fishing. Corey, my cousin Stevie, Stevie’s girlfriend, and I made our way back over to the Thorton River where I took my friend, Johann on Saturday.  With losing so many flies here the other day I caste with more care.  Instead of just fishing the hole near the parking area, we decided to wade up the stream for a while.  We made our way about 200 yards upstream catching rock bass, sunfish, and some rather large chubs along the way.  When we reached the bridge Corey caste under it first.  A nice deep run flows under the bridge which provides great artificial cover for the fishies. Corey laid into a nice size rainbow trout.  His 5 weight rod tip bent over almost to the water.  This rainbow had fight in it. I happily watched him reel in the beauty and netted the fish in my rubber lined net (it does not remove the slime layer or scratch the fish).  Since Corey’s recent fishing endeavors were less than ideal – i.e. he’s been on a dry spell -he showed great excitement for the catch. He used a black and brown bead head wooly bugger with some crystal pattern throughout (although, not enough to be considered a crystal bugger) in size 10, I believe.

After our nice little fish landing adventure, we waded up a little farther.  We certainly gained excitement and desire to catch another rainbow.  We fished upstream for another hour or so, walked back, and decided to fish the original hole near the parking area before we called it a day.  Yet again, Corey hooked a nice rainbow. Yet again, I happily netted the Oncorhynchus mykissWhile other trout showed interest in our flies, Stevie and I landed none. The brother received top fly fisherman award for the day. When he posted the picture I took on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter he used a hashtag I liked. He created the hashtag #rainbros. 

Photo: Nice troutski. #rainbros #flyfishing #trout

The brother’s second hard fought rainbow of the day.  Netted by yours truly.

After this we headed back to the parents, cleaned up, ate food – Corey ate one of the rainbows; it’s okay they’re stocked and die off in the heat of the summer, so I think a quick death is better. However I am certainly not God – and played a little FIFA.  I went to my girlfriend’s for some burgers and brats, watched another episode of Once Upon a Time and called it a night.  This episode of Once Upon a Time caught us up with current broadcasting. So, we will take a break from watching the program for a while.

All in all, the weekend proved quite busy. I enjoyed it and certainly enjoyed the fishing, time spent with my girlfriend, Gigi, FIFA, and the delicious food. When Tuesday morning came around, I felt a little worn out. Probably a combination of sun exposure and the multitude of activities. Corey’s rainbows were definitely the highlight.




Brokenback Run May 19, 2014

Recently I came up with what very well may be my best idea ever. I generally try to fill my schedule to the max.  However, this summer I decided to try something different.  Instead of picking up shifts on both Monday and Wednesday, the two days I generally have classes during the school year, I chose to take off on Mondays.  I justified this crazy notion with the following: I take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) in August and need one day designated to specifically to studying. Now, I know studying one day a week will not lead to GRE success, but setting aside one day a week to really dig in seems smart. Even though I will study for several hours on Monday, it also allows me a day to myself. Everyone I know works on Monday and therefore, I can get some great alone time in the mountains as well.  I look to the coming Mondays with delight.  I will call them My Mondays.

So, today was the first of those My Mondays. I slept in with my girlfriend until roughly 8:00 AM. I generally wake up earlier, but when she sleeps with me I tend to stay in bed longer.  I eat a quick bowl of cereal, grabbed by fishing gear, kissed the girlfriend good day, and made my way to the mountains.  Mr. Murray suggested I head for skyline drive, hike down and fish up a stream.  However, I foolishly left my map at the home place and therefore, decided to make for a stream I knew from the bottom of the park.  I picked Brokenback Run for two reasons; its proximity to my house, and the fact that my fishing trip there last weekend ended far too soon for my liking.  Due to the heavy rains we received last week, the water level rose a little from my previous weekend trip. However, this is a small stream and the water level increased only a slight amount. I told my mom I would be back before 3:00 PM. So, I started on the stream around 10:00 AM after a mile hike up the road from the parking area. I needed an hour to walk back. Therefore, I had roughly 4 hours to fish this stunning little stream.

I began fishing the same section my brother and I covered last week. It surprised me that I hook two fish in the same locations as last week.  I suppose each fishy has his niche.  I used a size 14 Mr. Rapidan Dry Fly with a 2 foot tippet connecting a size 14 Bead Head Squirrel Nymph.  Although, I lacked clear vision on all the bites I believe they all hit the dry fly.  I guess having the second fly in the water increase the chance of a bite. However, I wonder if the line hanging down from the top fly ever spooks this fish. If I gave my opinion, I would argue that it does get in the way.  So, I took it off in hopes of actually hooking a fish.  I switch flies as well.  I switched right where we left the stream last week. I guess I changed flies because Mr. Murray recommended a size 16 Murray’s Flying Beetle. I left the dropper/tippet with the nymph off as well.  I only casted this Beetle a few times before I realized how much I appreciated the Mr. Rapidan fly.  I found, or rather, could not find the Beetle on the surface when I casted.  So, I felt I would fare far worse off without seeing my fly and switched to a yellow stimulator.  I received a couple of bites, but not as many as I thought I should with such nice conditions.  So, again, I switched back to the Mr. Rapidan.  Sometimes you have to go through a few to realize how well the first one worked.  Without the dropper, it worked even better.

The last of the perfect pools.

I started getting more bites.  I also started fishing some really nice water.  After a few more casts I stopped for a bit to eat a snack and drink some water.  I felt quite alone and happy with what I thought to be a remote location.  Upon fishing up a little farther I released hikers walked not too far off to the right of the stream.  I held mixed feelings about this.  One, knew a way back without walking back down the overgrown stream sides. But I also knew I was not as remote as first thought.

After catching a nice little brookie (4 inches) next to a downed tree across the water, I came to one of the most beautiful holes I have ever laid eyes on.  Three wide, smooth running pools separated by small waterfalls were directly in front of me.  I thought I died and went to heaven.  I knew a nice fish or ten lived in this area.  To my surprise I fished the first two without a bite.  When I caught sight of the third and final whole I felt strongly about my chances of getting a quality brookie out of it.  I started near the waterfall and received a bite almost immediately.  After a few more casts and working my way up the water I threw my line nicely beside a large boulder. Then it happened. A gorgeous brookie came right out from behind the rock and grabbed the fly. I viewed the take with perfect clarity. I hope I never forget that image. At this moment in time, I felt like a true fly fisherman.  I pulled the beaut in and, like with all the other fish that day, it slipped right between my fingers before I gripped it.  Therefore, I have only a story with no picture of this perfect fish.  He was a nice size as well.  Roughly 8 inches I would say.

I even spotted a pretty doe on the hike back.

I long to make it back to that same whole and fish it as soon as possible.  I feel like the experience of the last hole and last fish is something that only takes place in dreams.  I will dream about it often.  Even though the fish gods allowed me to take zero pictures, I caught a few nice brookies.  Even in heaven, some days are better than others.






Dark Hollow Falls May 18, 2014

Trees across rivers make nice photo ops.

I made the mistake of sending my girlfriend an article recently which described the adventures of a hiking cat named Millie. I thought the article read nicely and the idea seemed cool. However, my girlfriend took it a little too serious and felt we could train her cat, Bougie, to be a mountain master.  So, we tried Bougie out around my girlfriend’s place Sunday morning. To my surprise, she actually followed well. Though, she soon tired. I knew she would not last for an entire hike in the Shenandoah National Park. However, my girlfriend still dreams of it.  She truly is a dreamer and does not always think of all the possibilities.  This is probably both a good and bad trait. However, let’s not go there right now. The main thing I feared with taking the little kitty to the SNP is the number of dogs which people bring into the park.  She could be a quick snack. Although, I conceded that Bougie followed us well, my girlfriend decided that Bougie’s hiking adventures would not officially begin that day.

Always make sure to have your balance.

We however, planned on hiking somewhere in the park. After making our way to my parent’s, we looked over a few maps to pick a trail.  We picked out two and decided to let the Park Ranger at the entrance to Skyline Drive give us his opinion on either Dark Hollow Falls or Lewis Falls.  The distance between the two falls’ parking areas measures less than a mile.  The Ranger provided little to no insight on which hike he preferred.  Probably a veteran who needed a job and knows nothing about the park.  Sorry, I digress.

View from below the falls.  They went a little farther down as well. But, A full photo proved difficult to capture.

We chose Dark Hollow Falls because the trail covered more ground. We could hike longer and this would probably eliminate most of the tourists as well.  The actual falls rest pretty close to the parking area. Therefore, lots of people gathered on the trail near them.  However, after the falls the trail cleared out as we suspected. We hiked along the fire road for a while.   The fire roads in the park are nice for connecting trails. Yet, they seem boring compared to actual trails. We came across an old cemetery along the fire road which turned out to be a pleasant surprise.  We looked around at the old head stones. To our wonder some of them died in the 1990s.  So, I guess if you possess the family lineage you can still gain admission into this scenic graveyard.

Sign at the entrance to the cemetery.

After the cemetery we crosses Skyline Drive near Fisher’s Gap to finish off the hike on a small stretch of the Appalachian Trail. I always enjoy hiking on the Appalachian Trail due to the history and longevity of the famous path.  We worked our way up to the Big Meadows Camping Area and stopped for a few slices of cheese and crackers at one of the pick nick tables.  I washed my Swedish Fire Knife in a small spring rising from below a tree trunk.   I thought it very pretty and natural. We finished the hike with a visit to the Big Meadows convenience store for a couple Moon Pies and a Gatorade.  Interestingly, we found out the reason behind creating Big Meadows.  The workers who built Skyline Drive needed a place to stay within a close distance to their work site.  So, they cleared a large area and created Big Meadows.  It resembled many civil war battlefields and provided quite the nice view in my opinion.

So, out of the six waterfalls within the SNP, I now visited four. I still need to see Lewis Falls, and…one other.  I went to The South River Falls about a month ago with my brother and father.  I frequently visited White Oak Falls in my high school and undergraduate days.  I viewed the Cider Run Falls last Summer with my brother. He slide down the slide from the top. I lacked the desire and only attempted it from half way. Therefore, I need to tackle the next two in the coming months.  Although, I’m a little anxious about the number of snakes I’ll soon see on my trips.

Overall, I enjoyed the hike.  It was nice to see the falls and nice to spend some alone time with my girlfriend (something that doesn’t happen enough, in my opinion).






A Visit to Murray’s May 17, 2014

The spring semester finished up last week and therefore, I decided to pick up an extra day at the physical therapy clinic. This new schedule meant that after my normal 7 to 3:30 Friday shift, I needed a nap.  I woke around 5:30 and began packing for the weekend spent in Culpeper. This just happened to be one of the rare weekends where I planned nothing.  Sometimes, the best weekends occur as a result of spontaneous decisions. I hoped for this outcome.  I spent Friday night at my girlfriends.  We went to town for some ice cream and returned to watch Once Upon a Time. I F****** love that show! I rarely watch television, I don’t own one, and if I watch anything, it usually involves soccer on a Saturday morning.  Exception: Once Upon a Time. After a little tube viewing we soon drifted off to sleep.

Mr. Rapidan Dry: One of the flies I picked up at the shop

I rose Saturday morning around 8 AM (its nice to sleep in on the weekends). I fed the chickens and made breakfast. Eggs and bacon with some O.J. create energy for the entire day.  The night before, I brought up the idea to my girlfriend of traveling to Edinburg, VA.  Now, only one reason exist for someone to travel to Edinburg. A town with hardly more than a post office, a restaurant, a pharmacy, and yes, a fly fishing shop. In case you missed it, the latter location is why anyone in their in their right mind would visit this place.  This fly shop is special, because of the owner. Harry Murray owns and operates Murray’s Fly Shop which, opened in 1962. If you believe you love fly fishing in mountain streams, you must visit this fishing haven. Mr. Murray’s fishing knowledge on the surrounding waters truly seems second to none. Honestly, I lack the ability to explain how awesome this guy is.

Anyhow, she agreed and after breakfast we began our roughly ninety minute journey. We arrived and I refrained from screaming in excitement. I felt like a little girl at a Backstreet Boys’ concert in the nineties.  I walked around the shop – which shares space with the pharmacy – with my girlfriend. I wanted to get some sort of a sovereign; a shirt, a hat, something I could wear all the time.  The shop appear empty other than a lady behind the counter asking if we needed any help.  I thought to myself, with a little wind taken out of the sails, that we missed Mr. Murray. He probably traveled to some place to give lessons, or a speech.  Then my girlfriend asked to lady a question to which the lady replied, “I’m not sure, let me get Mr. Murray”. I immediately became existed again.  I don’t think I showed it, but man, my inner smile shined bright.  The old man (no, really, he’s like 80) came out and spoke to my girlfriend. I gained his attention, asked about what flies to use, and he started spitting off information and giving suggestions so fast that I struggled to keep up.  After listing ten or so patterns to use for different locations, he stepped back into his office, out of sight.  While I gave my full attention to Mr. Murray, my girlfriend told the lady I possessed a man-crush for Mr. Murray.  The lady replied with something along the lines of, “Yeah, people come from all around to talk to him, get his autograph, or even paint his picture. But to me, he’s just Mr. Murray”.  Awesome! this guy knows so much and so many people respect him, yet he treats everyone the same. I get the feeling that if the Jesus himself walked in and asked about flies, Mr. Murray would give the same response to the Son of God that he gave to me. He came back out of the office asking the lady about some email he received from an individual in the Netherlands who wanted some fishing advice.  A guy from all the way across the pond wants advice from a guy who lives in Edinburg, VA. I wonder how many emails Mr. Murray gets a day? I bet he answers all of them, even the simple ignorant ones. When we left, he simply said, “Thanks for stopping in” and walked back into his office.

Little Yellow Sally: another one

I left without a shirt or hat, because I spent too much on flies. However, I purchased a sticker, which reads MFS in black letters with a white background similar to the OBX stickers everyone slaps on their vehicles. If I see one of the MFS stickers in the future, I know I found a friend.

We drove a short distance North of Edinburg to the town of Woodstock where antique stores abound.  Now, I hate antique stores with as much passions as I love fly fishing. However, my girlfriend really likes them.  Huh! I spent the next two ours trying to enjoy myself and think happy thoughts about the wonderful experience at Murray’s Fly Shop. This lasted longer than usual, but by the third antique shop I felt like giving up and pulling the trigger.

We finished up the dreaded shopping and made our way to Joe’s Steakhouse.  One lady in the last antique store we visited recommended Joe’s.  I thought of heading to the Tavern, the name of which escapes me. However, the antique lady insisted, “it was nothing more than a redneck bar”. I thought that sounded nice.  Oh well; next time. Joe’s turned out fine.  The weather stayed warm enough to sit outside, the wine quenched out thirst, and the food actually tasted great.

We traveled back, picked up some cider and called it a night.  Although antiquing took place, I considered it a success. I really enjoyed meeting speaking with Mr. Murray as well.

Between Two Runs: Brokenback Run May 9, 2014 and Mountain Run Lake May 10 2014

This proved to be quite a busy weekend.  I planned to partake in quite a few activities and knew that by the time I reached Monday I would need to rest.  However, I’m young and enjoy a full schedule. So, I happily jumped in and enjoyed every bit of it.  Tennis, waterholes, fly fishing, spin casting, canoe fishing, family time, and school work all made their way into my schedule (pronounced: shed-dual)

After the typical 7 to 3:30 shift on Friday, I made my way to Culpeper and played tennis with the girlfriend, brother, and cousin. We all enjoyed it and I started hitting the ball better.  Tennis generally comes and goes in phases. I play a lot for a month or so and then it dies off for the next several. So, playing well is nice, but we’ll see how long it lasts. After tennis, we made our way to one of the not so many watering holes in Culpeper to have a round in celebration of my cousin’s new job.  While there, we grabbed a bite to eat as well. then, we returned to the padres’ with a 12 pack of ciders and what my cousin and brother thought to be a fantastic buy of a video game, Lego The Lord of the Rings. It took less than two ciders before I fell asleep on the love seat. I eventually made my way up stairs and slept well for the rest of the night.

Saturday morning came and I woke to the excitement of fly fishing a mountain stream.  Since my last weekend lacked any sort of fishing, I carried extra excitement.  This time my journey included a partner.  My brother, the one closest in age, accompanied me.  He and I have more of a current love for fly fishing and the overall outdoor lifestyle than our old brother.  Well, that or my older brother enjoys making more money than either of us combined. While he dressed himself and I anxiously waited to leave, I read to him some of the streams listed in Harry Murray’s Trout Fishing in the Shenandoah National ParkWe still needed to decide on a location.  Due to the nice description Mr. Murray gave, its proximity to our parent’s house, and the fact that we never fished it before, we picked Brokenback Run.  This stream runs beside the Old Rag Fire Road and, like river it flows into, receives little fishing pressure. It is small, but swift with nice deep holes. We had the entire day to fish this beauty of a stream and nothing but a little rain in the forecast to get in our way, or so I thought.

Although I thought this trip would take at least several hours, two things set us back.  After I noticed by brother taking an extra long time to get ready, both at home and at the parking area I asked, what’s the deal? He responded with sweat beading down his forehead, “my head is pounding”. I knew this wasn’t from the night before, because we only consumed  a couple ciders. The cause of this headache seemed to be allergies. Secondly, my brother has yet to purchase a smaller 3 weight rod, so even with a clear head he would have had a hard time keeping his line out of the trees. He seemed excited to try out his new Simms Guard Socks and attempted to push through the visible pain of his headache but alas, we called it a day about an hour into our adventure.  I hooked a couple nice little brookies,but lost them both in the process of their landing. They literally slipped through my fingers.  My bro, had no such luck and spent most of his time becoming quite familiar with the local Oak population. We sat on a log for a time while a quick shower past.  I felt happy. I hiked to a peaceful place in the middle of the forest, fished a nice stream with a couple yellow stimulator flies (buy ’em from a local fly shop), and sat on a log next to my brother.  He felt no happiness. So, we walked back. He threw up on the way to the parking area, I drove home, and he slept the rest of the day.

Due to my frustration with calling it an early day on the stream, I decided to head over to one of my other cousin’s property on the Thorton River.  This river is stocked with trout near his house for the Wounded Warriors. So, I have permission to fish as long as I catch and release. After the group comes in and fishes the river for one weekend in the spring, I can keep and eat those suckers. I possess no guilt with the consumption of these stocked trout because, they generally die off before the end of the summer. I needed to be back and cleaned up by 7 PM in order to make Mother’s Day dinner in town.  So, instead of putting my fly rod outfit back together, I used the spin rod for about thirty minutes. The beauty of this stretch of river always amazes me. It makes me relax and feel happiness. I hooked into a strong 14 inch rainbow which created a nice fight on my 4’6” ultra lite setup (it fits in just about any vehicle and works great for the canoe and river trips when fishing the banks under tree cover). I fished a while longer, witnessed a few nice jumps by rather large rainbows, and caught a 4 inch chub. This one scared me because of the horns on its head. I never saw this before. I immediately thought, mutant fish! The rainbows will soon disappear due to this carnivorous beast and the world’s doomed! I quickly and ignorantly kicked it back into the stream without the consideration of snapping a photo. This event unsettled me, for sure. I later researched and found out about the hornyhead chub. So, no mutant takeover, hopefully.

Dinner in Culpeper took place at the Hazel River Inn. Mom liked it, I thought less of it than expected. However, it turned out okay because of the time spent with family, and my oldest brother picking up the tab.  Ice cream followed and then back to the home place for some more conversation and sleep.  I enjoyed dinner because its rare my two brothers, my parents, and I all get to hang out together.  The sister lives and Florida and therefore, decided not to attend.

Sunday morning came with a list of activities for the day. While eating breakfast I tried to finalize this list to create maximum efficiency. Once finished with the meal I found the shovel and wheel barrel. My Mother’s Day present consisted of K-9 fecies. While I cleaned the yard of their wastes my brother gave them baths. I believe my mother enjoyed this present and it only took an hour or two.

My parents’ perros are large. Therefore, cleanup stinks.

Following the doggy duties we loaded up the canoes and made way to Mountain Run Lake for a little fun in the sun. My girlfriend, brother, and two cousins attended.  I caught zero fish, a feat no other member of our group accomplished.  Little large mouth bass proved to be the only thing biting. One more thing about the lake; everyone but myself neglected to wear sunblock on the first hot sunny day of the spring. Needless to say, we all fried. Although I covered my anterior side with lotion, I lacked the flexibility to cover my back and therefore, burned my posterior.

The lady friend’s monster large mouth bass.

We loaded up the canoes, dropped them off at the home place, quickly showered, the made our way to Warrenton for dinner at our Aunt’s. My girlfriend parted ways at the lake in order to spend time with her mother. The afternoon weather seemed perfect for relaxing on the back deck with a couple cold ones and family. We even played a little volleyball against the younger generation. It surprised me that we lost. However, like I said, we had a few cold ones.

After a nice bit of time relaxing with the family, my brother and I headed back to the home place. Once home, I began writing a paper and studying for my biology final set for the following morning. Needless to say, when my head hit the pillow, I fell asleep immediately.

This proved to be another action packed weekend.  I knew this going in, but it really took a lot out of me. After my biology final I slept for about five hours. Guess I needed it.

UMW Sports Interview

I partook in this interview while attending UMW.  Randomly found it today and thought I would throw it up on the blog.  Why not?

In case the page disappears, I pasted it below.  I know, goofy smile. I think Andrew Jackson to be foolish for his treatment of the Native American Indian tribes.  His late attack at the end of the War of 1812 looks bad as well. I think I like mountains and fly fishing more than music right now.

October 28, 2011

INTRODUCING … Mary Washington Senior Men’s Soccer Midfielder Bram Sims

Studying plays develop, just like studying history and people, is a trait that has helped Mary Washington senior Bram Sims become a two-year starter and four-year letter winner as a defensive midfielder.   Sims, who helped the Eagles secure second place in the 2011 CAC men’s soccer standings, is this week’s INTRODUCING … featured student-athlete.

Briefly, what is your background in the sport you play?  I’ve played soccer for as long as I can remember.  Both my older brothers played and I picked it up at a very early age along with baseball.

What is your favorite spot on campus?  I don’t really have a favorite.  I suppose anywhere outside; the campus is really nice.  Any of the benches along Campus Walk are great for sitting, watching, studying, etc.

Outside of your home and campus, where is your favorite place visit?  I enjoy visiting the mountains during the winter.  My closest friends and I always go snowboarding.  There isn’t a particular mountain I enjoy more than another.  It’s more of an atmosphere thing.

Other than your team, what organization (s) do you participate in (on campus or off campus)?  I work as an official for Campus Recreation (refereeing and supervising intramural games).  I’m also a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.

Briefly describe the most memorable experience during your collegiate athletic career.  Playing against Salisbury on Homecoming Weekend of my freshman year.  The game was cold, wet, and windy.  However, I don’t think any of the players cared about the conditions because we had so many fans at the game cheering us on.  It was a really fun, adrenaline-packed experience.

If you could change any one item in the world (in your personal life, school, community, amateur or professional sports, national/international issue, etc.), what would it be, why, and how would you do it?   I don’t feel that I have spent enough time thinking about this question to put forward an actual good answer.  That’s something you could spend your life thinking about and still it might not be the best change.  I guess I would end world hunger.  I can’t imagine how it must feel to be starving.

What is your major in college, and what is the most important thing you learned in that discipline?  I’m majoring in History and Economics.  For history, it would have to be how to do research. Not just historical research but, research in general on any subject. I feel it’s a very important and often overlooked skill. For economics, the ability to think critically and differently towards questions.  Often times you can’t simply look up the answer in a textbook.  You have to take a unique approach to find the (possible) answers.

Other than your family members, who was the most influential person in your life?   My best friend growing up. He never puts his wants in front of the cause.  I think a lot of people could learn from that.

What is your favorite form of entertainment?  I enjoy live musical entertainment.  There is something about a live band that captivates me.  I can listen to the entire band or pick out a certain instrument while the rest are still playing and study that one musician.  It makes me smile and I rarely tire of it.

What is your favorite source of information (TV, book, magazine, website, friends in dining hall, etc.)?      My favorite source of information is a book.  If I am able to focus only on the book, the information really seems to stick.

If you could give one piece of advice to elementary school children, what would that advice be?   I don’t know. Everyone is different; therefore, different advice is needed…Follow your dreams!

Outside of the Capital Athletic Conference, who or what is your favorite sports person or team?   My favorite sports person is Paul Scholes.  He’s a retired English and Manchester United socccer player.   We play the same position and his ability to distribute the ball is amazing.

Name three (3) people, real or fictional, living or dead, that you’d like to have dinner with?

Muddy Waters.  He’s an incredible blues guitarist and I like music.

J.R.R. Tolkien.  Anyone who can create that crazy of a story with its own language would have to be an interesting dinner date.

Former U.S. President Andrew Jackson.  Because I would like to see if he is as much of a fool as I think him to be.


Montpelier Wine Festival May 3, 2014 and Corbin Cabin Hike May 4, 2014

Finals for the spring semester took place last week.  This however, by no means, meant I skipped out on having fun over the weekend. It just meant I took a little longer to write about my endeavors.  I…can’t remember what I did on Friday, the  2nd of May. So, let’s conclude, I did something related to tennis, drinking, hiking, or fishing. On second thought, fishing evaded me that weekend, because, and only because, my girlfriend said I do it too much and our relationship suffers due to said activity. I’m not really arguing; I really like fishing. We’ll leave it at that.

Saturday my girlfriend and I attended the Montpelier Wine Festival at the Estate of James Madison.  The weather remained nice, a little on the hot side, but after the long, cold, snowy winter I doubt anyone complained.  I only wish I wore and outfit a little more comfortable.  Yet, the wine tasted nice, as did the fat cigar between my lips.  After a few hours of tasting, which took place in the large field in the front of President Madison’s property, we decided to take a closer look at the living quarters and their surroundings.  With my wine buzz still intact and my shoes in my hand, we walked around.  I found myself thinking, “This is nice. Nothing specials, but nice”.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I like history and historical sites. I really want to visit Monticello, the home of the great, Thomas Jefferson, but currently I’m in fishing mode. After being told several times to shut up about fishing and enjoy the event, I found myself desiring the rod in hand, the water at foot, and the fish around the bend. Then I found it; I found the view. From the front steps of Montpelier I beheld the breathtaking and utterly refreshing view of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the west. I asked the few individuals who accompanied my girlfriend and me if they could imagine waking up to this every morning? I could; the day immediately went from one which lacked fishing to one not wasted. I located happiness or at least tranquility for a few moments. That’s a special feeling and one that I seldom get from anything other than nature.

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‘Twas a nice view

Sunday began late due to sleeping in, which I enjoyed. I probably studied for a bit before we (my girlfriend and I) headed out the door to hike somewhere in the Shenandoah National Park. Looking back on it I wonder if my view from Montpelier captured the park at all. I convinced my brother to join us on the hike and in turn, he convinced the dogs to tag along.  Jubal, my parents’ 150 lb. Great Dane and Widget, my brother’s Harrier hopped in the back of the Subaru and we headed for the Old Rag Parking Area.  We hiked the Nicholson Hollow Trail.  I enjoyed having the dogs with us, but the trail followed the river.  It killed me not to fish. Again, don’t get me wrong, I like hiking and I like my girlfriend, but I have fly fishing fever!

Jubal had a rough time getting the hang of crossing the streams.  Large builders placed across it just seemed like objects of hindrance to him rather than a way to stay dry.  I feared he would cut his legs while slipping and sliding through the streams.  Thankfully he learned by observation (classical conditioning?) and crossed with ease on the way back.  He also likes to walk himself by holding the leash in his mouth.  Because he possesses great strength, we found it easier to just throw his leash around his neck. He stays close and technically he stays on a leash. So we break no rule, which is nice.

I hiked this same trail last spring with my brother and it always takes longer than we anticipate.  When we reached the cabin we ate lunch on a rock which sat in the stream and relaxed for a few minutes.  After getting back from the hike, I studied some more.

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Jubal, checking out the surroundings while we ate

Overall, the weekend received a B+ in my book.  It could have been worse; it could have been raining. The view from Montpelier excited me.


Slow Weekend on the Rappahannock Fall Line: April 26, 2014

Planning for last weekend started back in January. I purchased Fly Fishing Virginia by Beau Beasley with some money I received as a Christmas.  Over the next several weeks it became my bed time reading. Now, one must understand, reading before I go to sleep is sort of a foreign concept to me. I generally only do so, if I feel it necessary for school. I get through a couple of pages — if that — and soon my eyes are so heavy, closing them seems an immediate inevitability.  However, a stray from the norm took place with this book.  I found myself getting excited and, dare I say, becoming lost in simple yet interesting details about streams, rivers, and ponds located throughout the Old Dominion.

While the mountain streams captured my attention more so than most other locations, one stood out amongst the rest, the mighty Rappahannock, as I like to call it — with a voice intended to sound like Clay Jenkinson’s of the Thomas Jefferson Hour.  For some reason the way he says, “the mighty Potomac” sticks in my mind and I often enjoy substituting the Rappahannock for its larger northern neighbor.  Yes, the Rappahannock at the fall line in Fredericksburg.  I currently call this little historic city my place of residence and have so since attending the University of Mary Washington for my undergrad.  Therefore, reading about the excellent fishing literally, right in my backyard created quite a stir in my brain. I found myself thinking, how could I have lived here for so many years and never known about the pole-fun located so close? Well, honestly, playing soccer every day, attending college full time as a double major, and working a significant amount kept me quite occupied.  I only really found my love for the outdoors, when both soccer and school slowed down, a little.

Let’s get back to the point: After reading about the fall line fishing on the Rappahannock I knew where I would be for at least one weekend during the Spring of 2014.  It is true I caught the end of the Striper run last year, but I knew little about it then.  This year however, I invited a number of friends the stay the weekend and hit the water Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. So, after the typical 7 to 3:30 shift on Friday I drove straight the river to meet up with the crew. The water level looked perfect, the fish jumped hungrily, and the weather soon took a turn for the worst.  Sadly, we only casted for about an hour before thunder began rolling.  In that time, I caught a nice little Herring and my good childhood friend, George Franklin (name change, because he wished to remain anonymous) hooked into a nice striper which lead to a five to ten minute battle, ending in yours truly skillfully grabbing the gracious monster from behind.  We, used sinking line, with Clouser Minnows for the Striper and Tommy’s Flash Torpedoes for the Shad and Herring.  Side note: When I list flies, I would recommend either purchasing them from the original maker, or a local fly shop. Help those people out, because they’re awesome!

Photo: Jb with a hard fought striper on the rapp

With the onset of the storm we quickly decided to hit the local watering holes and enjoy our time together. Two good friends, one great friend, myself, and a brother had a night on the town.  The next morning, we woke a little later than intended and made our way back to the water by 8 AM. It was already starting to rise and get muddy. We tried our best and quit not for several hours. Yet, we fished in vain. So, we watched an English Premier League game, napped, showered, and made our way to this Nation’s great capital.  D.C. United kicked off at 7 PM. We planned on riding the Metro in from a friend’s house, but the HOV lane lacked efficiency and an hour drive turned into a two hour affair.  So, instead, we drove straight to the game. In the end we made it on time, watched the home club take all three points and made our way to another group of watering holes after the match.  We sang, we danced, and we were marry.

Sunday morning came with the excitement of a Liverpool versus Chelsea title clash.  Sadly, Liverpool could not breakdown the very organized defense of Chelsea and the Blues took all three points.  Hopefully Manchester City trips up in the following weeks to give Liverpool their first title in twenty-one (?) years. After a long search for the car keys — which I smartly placed in my toiletry bag the night before, so I would not lose them, of course — we drove back to Fredericksburg in search of a clear river. We found none. We napped, everyone left, and I began studying for a biology test.

The weekend fishing lacked the fun and excitement which I imagined for the past few months.  Still, I dare not say it lacked adventure. Although we caught a low number of fish and Liverpool failed to conquer Chelsea, it was time well spent. We fished, we cheered, we enjoyed.