Family Time on the Thorton and Rapidan 06/14-15/2015

With my sister and her family visiting from Florida, I took some time off work to fish with my two nieces – ages 13 and 12 – and then again with my brother-in-law and nephew – age 8. With my nieces we spin cast for smallies, red eye, chubs, and bluegill. We fished a section of the Thorton River, East of Sperryville, Virginia. My Cousin lives right on the river which allows for easy access as well as parking, which, are two things ones finds quite difficult on most small stream and rivers outside of Shenandoah National Park. In addition my brother, girlfriend, and nieces friends from Florida fished as well. I wouldn’t call my nieces excellent fisherwomen as of this time, so I left my rod by the streamside and as we waded up the river I helped with the tangled lines, unhooking the fishies, and showing the girls how to make a friendly release.

We managed to experience a lovely downpour for about 20 minutes or so while we made our way to a deep hole I fished on multiple previous trips. The rain cooled us off and provided an excellent scene or nature at one of her finer moments. In a rather sad turn of events for the soles of my feet, my niece decided to leave her shoes at the start of our wading adventure. This mean I would of course, give her my shoes and walk the rocky stream bed without protection. Needless to say, my feet felt a little less than perfect for the following few days.

We fished for a couple hours and landed more fish than we could count. I like fishing this section of the Thorton for a few reasons. First, in the Spring, an organization stocks rainbows for either Project Healing Waters, or another program of that sort and the leftovers provide nice trout fishing for a couple months. Additionally, other than the Spring plethora of rainbows I know of very few people who fish here. Therefore, you hook a lot of fish. You can also hook a few different species which keeps things interesting. Finally, privacy prevails here (at least privacy from fellow humans). Other than the occasional vehicle crossing the old bridge, my company includes whoever may be my fishing buddy and wildlife galore. I spot dear, herons, eagles, foxes, hawks, beavers, and other critters whose figures escape my remembrance at this time. So, yes, it’s a spot worth visiting from time to time.

Before we set out on the river my brother, girlfriends, nephew, and I took a trip down to a little trickle of a stream behind my parents’ house to see what we could find. Several years have past since we journeyed down to the stream which only rests a few hundred yards from my parent’s back door and I thought it a good idea to get the 8-year-old out of the house for a little while. The path certainly needs a good machete clearing, but we managed to make it down with minimal poison ivy contact. Most of the time my nephew piggy-backed on my brother and the girlfriend did the same to me.

When we arrived at the streambed we noticed a rather large black mass sitting just downstream. We wondered a little closer, cautiously. Upon closer examination we found the unfortunate resting place of what appeared to be a fully grown black bear. Poor fella’. After later conversations with the family, we came concluded that someone hit the bear with their vehicle and he painstakingly made his way to this location a short distance from the road. However, this event came to pass, I enjoyed to close up view of this strong furry friend.

  -Dead bear. More than likely the creature fell victim to an automobile accident. At least, that’s the word from the local country store.

After viewing the evidently mortal specimen for a few quick minutes the smell started to takes an unpleasant affect on our nostrils. So, we began the very short trip back up the ravine. On the way I turned around an snapped a quick photo of my brother and nephew on the home stretch of our adventure. My nephew certainly possesses and interesting imagination.

-For some reason, man often feels more adventurous and secure while in nature with a weapon in hand.

The following day, I took my brother-in-law and nephew up to Hoover’s Rapidan Camp.  I knew they would at least slightly enjoy walking around the camp and with minimal hiking, the nephew could easily make it. I learned a valuable lesson. If you hand a knife to a 7-year-old boy, show him how it opens and make sure he knows how to close it as well. Show him how to use it and make sure he knows how not to use it too. I left off the last points and turned around to see him trying to close it as we walked along the rocky path. I wasn’t upset that he had it open, – even though I told him not to open it without asking – but I was more upset with myself because I didn’t tell him why he should keep it closed or how to close it -the knife had a safety lock on it. Oh well, live and learn I suppose. Next time I’ll know.

Another cool thing about this trip: when we left the town of Culpeper the temperature gauge in the car read 96 degrees. While driving to Hoover’s Camp it rained and cooled down a bit. Upon arrival at the parking area for Hoover’s Camp and due to a combination of the heavy foliage, higher elevation, and of course, the rain, the temperature gauge showed the number 72 degrees. Amazing how one feels no need for an air conditioning unit when in the right location.

-The beginning of our hike up to the Presidential Suites.

After we walked around the multiple buildings and trails that make up Hoover’s Rapidan Camp, we sat for a minute and I took a number of photos of my bro-in-law and his offspring. I explained to my nephew the historical significance of this site. However, he cared more about the rocks, insects, leaves, and nature in general than the details. Sometimes being around a child reminds one not to think so much and just enjoy. This made me smile.

Both of my party looked forward to getting their feet in the water and attempting to land a nice native Virginia brook trout. I lined up my Redington CT 376-4 threw on a little yellow sally dry fly and headed for the foliage-covered banks of the Upper Rapidan. I breifly demonstrated a how-to fly fishing 101, then handed the rod to my nephew while I guided his arms.  He did…okay, but no luck. Then I passed the rod to my BIL. He did…okay as well, and actually had a fish jump at the fly. However, to lacked the coordination – mainly because I hadn’t gotten that far in fly fishing 101 – to tighten the line while raising the rod. Oh well…

We moved down to a wider section of the river. By this time the nephew found it more enjoyable to hop from rock to rock in the steam than to fish for underwater creatures, which by now he probably doubted existed. So, I took matters into my own hands and made my way under a small bridge. I figured it unlikely anyone would have fished this spot earlier today. However, while I advanced, I made sure to check every foot and finger placement in order to avoid spiders, snakes, and what else have you. A small 4 5 inch brookie gulped down my fly and I finally proved to my nephew – and by now my brother-in-law I’m sure – that fish really do exist in these mountain streams.

-Showing off my little treasure to the nephew. Told you they’re real!

After the fish we headed back to the parents’ for dinner and called it a night. Overall, I’m glad time allowed me to show my nephew somewhere few people venture. Whether its out of want, lack of knowledge, or lack of 4-wheel-drive, not many people make to Hoover’s Rapidan Camp. I hope he remembers it fondly.


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