Trip Report Out of the House


Rain. More rain. Sleet and rain. Snow. And rain. Deep freeze. Rain. It's been tough to find that window to fish here in the Blue Ridge Mountains, but the moon and stars finally aligned and I ground out a day on the water earlier in the week.

My day got off to a shitty start when I found that someone had absconded with my wading boots after I left them on the porch after my last trip. Bummer. Swung by a fly shop and grabbed some new boots. This errand took me to the wrong end of town and got me on the water a little later than I'd intended, although the latter isn't necessarily a bad thing in late January. As I was clearing the city limits, I got a call from a buddy of mine who guides in the area I was headed. He was killing time in a hospital lobby waiting on news of his 2 year old with mystery hypoxia. He'd just talked to the doc, but got a Belichick presser instead of answers. Suddenly, the shitty start to my day seemed not so shitty after all.

After venting about docs and their inscrutable ways, he asked if I was fishing, then asked, "What you gonna do, dude?"

"I'm gonna pop over to [tiny pisstrickle blueline] and 10 minutes to see if some of the pellheads from that little shitheel hatchery up there got out during the high water like they always do, and if I find one, I'm gonna dry that fucker out. Then I'll head over to [a different blueline 10 minutes further up the road] for some browns."

Now I mention this because while I often talk or write about "plans," the truth is, my plans are usually more along the lines of jam sessions than concertos. It's not often that I call my shot. This time, though, I rolled up to the pisstrickle in question and pulled over a quarter of a mile or so from the shitheel little hatchery. I don't often target stocked trout, but my go to wintertime rig (a big goofy bead with a cream mop trailer) doubles as the stocker special. It took two casts to find the wandering stocktard I came looking for. A quick clunk and it was done. For some reason farm raised trout is ten bucks a pound at the grocery store. Fuck that noise.

I popped up the road to my next target. The creek was ripping, but the sun was getting on the water and that's what I like to see this time of year.

It was a grind at first. The sun may have been on the water when I got there, but it clearly hadn't been on there long enough to get many fish moving about. I whiffed on a couple of eats, and spent a lot of time fidgeting with my flies and rig. The usual symptoms of a day sliding sideways. I wasn't too discouraged, I was pretty sure as the afternoon went on and the water temps crept up, I'd start getting a little more action.

I worked my way upstream a ways and finally broke through in a spot where I absolutely knew I would get an eat. Spots like this are absolute money in cold water conditions, and this one didn't let me down.

That seemed to be the signal for things to pick up, and I started popping fish in seemingly every likely spot. Things were going swimmingly, then, unexpectedly, I went swimming. That sucked pretty hard, I'll be honest with you folks. Don't recommend it.

I went back to the car for some heat and dry clothes, but when I came back, they were still chewing. I was glad to see some really small fish in the mix, as we had terrible recruitment during the drought years.[img]


The light started to fade, but the bite kept rolling, so I kept following it up. Eventually, the stream reaches a small canyon, and I was there when I realized the sun would soon dip below the top of the hills. I knew my casts were numbered, but I got a nice drift through one more nice lie and was rewarded with my nicest (real) fish of the day. Racing against my miscalculation of the time, I was able to mountain goat my way to the rim of the gorge where the road ran, and made it back to my car just as the sun dropped out of sight.

Cheers y'all!


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