Upper Rapidan River June 2, 2014

Since my last post, I went to Florida for a major kayak fishing trip.  Therefore, I have much difficulty remembering my activities exactly.  I will do my best in the following.  Friday: I got nothin’.  Saturday, I partook in something during the day and went to an 80’s themed luau party for one of Kasey’s coworkers in the evening.  I wore a speedo and a tank-top to the party and therefore, drank heavily to compensate for my feelings of doubt over my choice of attire.  For reasons I feel I cannot discuss, I will remember that night for the rest of my life.

Photo: #80s #luau #party #saturdaynight #speedo #bighair


Now do you understand why I drank heavily?

Since I drank heavily Saturday night, sleep consumed Sunday morning. I eventually gathered a few belongings and my dignity and made my way back to Culpeper.  I believe I helped Kasey around her house. I borrowed my mom’s Subaru Forester, because I needed more ground clearance and 4-wheel drive in order to access the upper section of the Rapidan River.  I headed there early Monday morning. Although, I appreciate my Civic for the great gas mileage, I often wish for something with 4-wheel drive.  Not a big truck or anything else too redneck, but something a little more than a Civic.

I woke early Monday morning to head out for another My Mondays adventure.  Since the road to the Upper Rapidan raps around some mountains and contains many rough areas – honestly, it shouldn’t be called a road; more like a fire road at best – it took me about 45 minutes to arrive at my desired location.  As a crow flies, it would take less than half that time.  Oh well, mountains are cool, pretty, and isolated. So, I’m okay with it.

I came across a small parking area on the left side of the road.  Since this parking area appeared to be the first, I felt slightly hesitant to park and fish here.  Most people fish at first sight, which generally leads to more traffic than I desired. However, no one appeared present and being a Monday morning, I doubt anyone came through before me.  The parking area rested less than 50 feet from the river. So I began fishing immediately, which, came as a change from my previous mountain stream outings. Yet, is this a welcome change? I enjoy the hikes. So, maybe not.

Right from the first section of the river I understood why the Rapidan possesses the top brookie stream in the state title.  The river runs narrow with a few deep runs then suddenly, a large fall with a deep, wide pool. This pattern repeats over and over. I used a size 16 Sulfur Dry Fly in orange. With the water level quite nice, the weather perfect, and the amount of yellow and orange flies I view floating around, I thought more fish would take my fly.  Maybe I just suck at reading the water and presenting the fly? Maybe I parked and fished in an area that receives too much pressure?  Maybe I should have used something with yellow instead of orange? Whatever the cause, my luck soon changed. I didn’t exactly start slaying them, but I caught a few.  Just hiking up this stream seems worth the trip to the Rapidan. I could bring a camera and take a unique and beautiful snap every 50 feet. Also, I found a tube of Orvis Dry Fly Floatant Gel. I liked this because I never used the gel before.  Usually, I use a shaking powder.  I applied the gel and found it to work quite well.  Things started to look up..

I fished up the river a little farther, came to an exist trail which lead to the road, hiked back to the parking area, pit stopped at the vehicle for some water and headed downstream. I needed to be in Fredericksburg by 3:30 PM. Being it still before noon I figured  fishing up to the parking area the most logical thing to do.  I know not if this section of the river holds more fish, but on that day, I found many more.  Almost by chance I hooked and landed my biggest brookie.  After fishing the sides of the white water, the deep holes, and smooth run before the next ledge, I lazily left my fly in next to the ledge. I saw a large brookie come after it.  It took another serious cast before I landed him. I found it amusing because one of the first places to fish should be these ledges because that’s where the big fish hold.  Harry Murray told me this.  Strange how things can slip the mind at the times they should be front and center.  Hopefully I remember this on my next outing.

Photo: Gotta love the colors. #brooktrout #snp #rapidan #flyfishing

Nice brookie on the size 16 Sulfur Dry Fly. Sometimes we get lucky.

I fished back up to the car and found another fellow fly fisherman parked next to me.  He recently finished for the day and I chatted with him while he packed away his Orvis Superfine Touch. He said he landed quite a few fish on the day using a size 16 Yellow Sally.  Next time I head out I will go with the Yellow Sally, the Mr. Rapidan, and the Yellow Stimulator. Hopefully I can lay into quite a few nice fishies. Being my first time on the Rapidan and catching a very nice brookie, I considered the weekend quite the success.

As a side note, one might want to head over to the Rapidan River just to visit President Hoover’s camp at the headwaters of the river. In the warmer months the National Park Service gives tours of the camp site, cabins and surrounding areas.  I highly recommend it.

The Picture Chimney at President Hoover’s Camp back in December. Mind the facial expression.



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