Once again, we hit the beautiful Shenandoah River. Once again, I tried to get a large group of friends to join. Once again, only 4 made the trip. Seems like a trend, huh? We arrived early Saturday afternoon to a rather large crowd. I knew a few of the individuals we camped next to from my high school days. I enjoyed speaking with them. Once the campsite setup received proper attention, we waded out into the crystal clear water of the Shenandoah and fished the far bank for an hour or so. We caught a number of smallmouth bass and blue gills. My wading buddies consisted of my lady friend and Wes (or Weslihno, or Westicles as we like to call him). After the hour pasted, my brother Corey arrived from his beach vacation to the Outer Banks. We waded back over to the campsite, loaded up the canoes and yaks, and kindly asked one of my high school comrades drop us off upstream. This way we avoided the painstaking task of retrieving the vehicle from upstream after the less than sober floating and fishing session.
By now my watch read 6 PM. I tried convincing the crew (Lady Friend, Corey, and Wes) to drift a little later. So, we could get some true nighttime float casting under our belts. However, I was vetoed and we simply partook in a “till dusk” trip. We drank a number of delicious brews from Sunken City and another Virginia brewery whose name escapes me. Plus, we enjoyed America’s finest brew, the Budweiser (Bud Heavy as some may feel so inclined to call it). As we approached sunset, the smallie action headed up nicely. The lady friend landed a nice 15 inch Smallie and I tricked his 13 inch younger sibling into taking a size 8 bright yellow bead head Crystal Bugger (website doesn’t have bright yellow, but you get the idea). When fishing for smallies with streamers, I find sinking tip line works better. Getting the fly down low, quickly, really helps with a fast current and steady movement from the canoe.
We enjoyed the float. We even got a kick out of getting stuck on a rock in the middle of the river for a while (pictured below). The lady friend didn’t do the best job at spotting us a route through the rapids. However, I can’t really blame her because I never asked her to look for a smooth route through. Perhaps next time.
Also, not long after we began the water trip, we notices one of our friends, floating downstream by himself on an inner tube. I shouted out, “Hey man, see back at the campsite after while”. He responded with a smile and “where is the campsite? I’ve been looking for it for hours now”. Needless to say, he had a few cold ones, while on the river (along with some other things as well). I directed the lost voyager to the homestead and continued fishing. I like to think I helped him. You know, did my good deed for the day.
After fishing, floating, drinking, and raising cane on the water for a few hours, we arrived at out campsite. We brought the vessels to shore, started the grill, set up the catfish lines, and partook in the festivities that come about when a large group of old friends converge for a night.
We drank and married. Soon we laid into a few hot dogs, sausages, peppers, and zucchini off the grill. Not too long after our feast, we heard to sound of bells ringing. When on a river and you hear bells ringing, it means one thing and one thing only. Catfish on! We landed a nice 2 footer. We thanked the fish gods, cut that sucker up and made a delicious midnight snack out of him. Sadly we lacked butter. If you ever come across fresh (I mean, like alive within the past 10 minutes fresh) catfish and you possess butter, do not delay. Cook that sucker up and load it with butter. The meat melts in your mouth.
Soon after the Ictalurus punctatus meal, we fell asleep. Being it, late July, we packed blankets lightly. Meaning we didn’t bring any. therefore, we froze. I awoke around 6 AM with the lady friend spooning me from behind and me in turn spoon Wes. It was cold and I needed to survive.
Once awake, I lined up my Winston Passport and headed out to the far bank for a few casts before we packed up and took off. I managed a number of 5-9 inch smallies and even had the pleasure of stepping directly onto a large catfish. To say the least, this scared the shit out of me. To feel the power of a large fish rubbing against your leg while standing in 3’+ of water is quite a unique experience. I carefully watched my steps after this.
Once back in Luray we skipped out traditional Taco Bell/ice cream run and headed into old town Luray for some traditional Mexican food from Rancho Viejo. I order shrimp tacos, refried bean, Spanish rice, and nachos, which, is a lot, I know.
Here at the Rancho, we parted ways with Wes and Corey.
Until next time.