Disclaimer: This post is a lot of random thoughts. With a stretch, some relate to fly fishing. Others, certainly do not. Read on with fair warning.
5:30 AM on a Sunday? I guess so. Why do I wake up so early for this? Early bird gets… the fish. How does my brother listen to Bad Religion at 6 AM? Does this stream even have a name? “Maybe yes, maybe no, maybe go…” Continue reading
Another nice February day and off work early. So, I had to explore! Additionally, I mentioned in a previous post that I wanted to land a crappie on the fly. So, Dan Dutton of River Rock Outfitters recommended I check out the area around Government Island on Aquia Creek. Due to the amount of side cover from downed trees and bush, this creek is a pretty solid location for crappie, it at least that’s what my research suggested.
Quick post here on a weekend hike. The lady friend and I decided to take advantage of the very nice, and rather unusually warm February weather. We tried a new hike. Hikes are fun, and tons of trails exist, but just like anything else, you tend to stick with what you know. This time we ventured off the beaten path (metaphorically speaking, of course) and tried a trail in the Hazel Country portion of Shenandoah National Park. To keep it simple, stupid, I’ll comment on the photos in a chronological order.
If you go through the trouble of chopping up the wood, why not remove the sign and place it on a standing arbor? This rested right beside the trail head, and I can only imagine, this sign won’t serve it’s purpose for much longer. That sucks, man. It’s frustrating when things can no longer serve their purpose because someone or something won’t help them out. Now, that I come to think of it, I didn’t try to remove or replace the boundary sign either. I’m no better. I’m no better… Continue reading
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.
The seed implantation for this trip took place when I read through the Stream section of Harry Murray’s, Trout Fishing in the Shenandoah National Park. My brother worked as a SNP Ranger and stumbled upon a copy of this trout fishing bible while stationed at one of the campgrounds. Having grabbed the book from him and thoroughly read through it multiple times I found, not only the name, and distance from easy access appealing about Big Run, but also the fact that it holds many trout, and mucho large brookies at that.
The past few weeks came and went in a flash. The Combination of constant travel, lack of sleep, and high levels of fun barely allowed time for breathing. Trips to Florida, Tennessee, Connecticut, the World Cup, lots of fly fishing, studying for my GRE next month, and trying to get enough rest to make it through the following day seem to really take their toll. Not that my life appears to slow down now, I simply have a slow day at work. So, blogging resumes.
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.
–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 mykiss. While 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.
–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.
–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).
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 Park. We 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.