To clarify, little, is a relative term.
I spent a large amount of time during the Summer of 2016 floating down rivers and throwing flies with just about anyone who would join me. Like my previous few posts, this is yet another documentation of such.
Let’s see; where to start? I had a friend in high school. I still am happy to call him my friend. However, now I spend more time fishing with his father. Strange how some relationships form. Anyhow, me and the friend’s father – let’s call him Mark – planned a fish date. Somehow, we managed to show up on time and set our eyes on the water right as the sun took it’s first peak over the treeline.
One of the great things about getting up early to drift down a river is how at peace the morning scenery appears. Another great thing about it? It’s not 90 degrees yet. So, your backside has yet to form a sweaty, bacteria-filled, ecosystem in conjunction with your canoe seat. Don’t worry, by high noon the inevitable happens. I wonder what would come of it if someone threw that stuff in a petri dish? Strange digression, sorry…
We floated a section of the Hazel. This section was a first for me. However, the wise, old, Mark covered it multiple times. Again, like a lot of the Hazel, this section receives little pressure and hitting it midweek practically guaranteed we would travel the waters in isolation. We did just that. We each caught a plethora of fishes. I managed a monster smallie and Mark slammed quite a few respectables. It got hot, but we prepared with all the necessary nutrients to combat the fiercest elements Mother Nature can throw your way in mid-August, humid-filled, Virginia. What nutrients, you ask? You know, the essentials. Water and stuff…
A little more on Mark: He’s an old school, spin caster and one of the best I know. He reads the water like a fish reincarnate. When it comes to drifting in a canoe he puts you in casting positions that I previously thought only existed in fables of yesteryear. He’s a great friend and tells it like he see it. He also loves Ohio State football… We all have our downfalls.
An interesting thing that comes to mind; my companion for the day enjoys a cigarette from time-to-time. Truthfully, I don’t care for them, and generally advise against the habit due to the correlated health issue. However, when floating down the river, the smell of cigarettes jogs me cognitively to the point of nostalgia. I like it. It’s something I generally don’t remember till it happens the next time. Glad I caught that thought, and documented.
Floating this sections requires you to portage a rather uneven section of terrain. The dam blocking your path appears more of a natural occurrence than anything man-made. Note this: before you set foot on dry land due to a dam, make sure you check it out with a fly. The blockage generally funnels water into a specific section, leading to a buildup of food for fishies, and other aquatic creatures. On the downstream side of the dam we managed a number of hook-ups. For the note, you’re welcome.
This river is relatively small, and therefore, can lead to a lot of walking if it gets too low. Luckily the water level was high for the time of year. So, other than the portage, we only walked when we desired. Also, this trip is worth taking just for the scenery. Where the Hazel makes confluence with the Rappahannock, you get a change in the riverbed. It turns from mostly sand/small pebbles to larger rocks, grass beds and see-through water. It is a pretty sight.