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Fly Fishing in the Southeastern US
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 Post subject: Back to the Beginning
PostPosted: Sat Feb 04, 2012 9:54 pm 
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Brook Trout
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Joined: Mon Nov 15, 2010 9:08 pm
Posts: 224
Location: Richmond, VA
I got my fly fishing start on this creek years ago. It was the very first place I visited in Shenandoah National Park, and it was before I had even the slightest clue about what I was doing. One year, I asked for a fly rod for Christmas and my folks came through with a 9' 5 weight Cabelas rod and reel. To complete the outfit, I went out and bought a box full of dry flies and the cheapest rubber waders I could find. Then I set my sights on catching some trout in the SNP. It was January, and the creek was mostly frozen, but that didn't stop me from waddling down from Skyline drive in my rubber waders and casting dry flies to half-frozen trout. Needless to say, I took a skunking.

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After those first few months, I learned a few things:

1. A 9' 5 weight rod is WAY too big for the tight quarters on these little streams.

B. Trout aren't likely to eat dries when the stream is half iced over.

4. Rubber waders suck.

I went forth with my newly acquired knowledge and began to catch a few fish here and there - but I never went back to my first creek. So this morning I decided to pay her a visit. On the way in, I passed this barn smack in the middle of UVA country. I imagined all of the little preppy, rich kid students having to pass it every day and had a good chuckle. The day was off to a good start.

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Part of the reason I never returned here is that this stream suffered major damage in a 1995 flood. Large amounts of rain fell quickly and caused numerous landslides where large chunks of mountain side piled into the hollow below. As it washed downstream, it took tree cover (and shade) with it, channelized the stream bed and decimated the fish population. With so many other opportunities in the Park, it seemed a good one to stay away from. However, in the 17 years since, the stream has begun to heal itself and the fish are making a comeback. I received some intel from a trusted friend that the fishing was pretty good now, so I decided to see for myself. He was right.

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It seems as if Mother Nature has been doing a pretty good job of fixing the stream - lots of riffle, run, pool sequences and riparian vegetation. There are still some deep, featureless areas and stretches that won't see much shade in the summer, but it seems to be coming along.

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Cookie cutter 6 - 7" fish provided pretty good action as I made my way upstream. They were hunkered down on the bottom and I had to go deep with heavy flies.

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And one nicer specimen made the day. It's good to see some nice big, healthy brookies in here and, in time, it should only get better.

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This creek runs north to south, roughly parallel with Skyline Drive, and it's not one of the higher gradient streams in the Park. It does have several feeder streams that plunge straight off the mountain before joining the main creek, creating some pretty stunning visuals.

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After seeing that from the bottom, I had to climb up there and get a closer view. A big brookie has to live in this plunge pool but I flogged the water for 15 minutes and came up empty. A buddy assures me that there are fish above this point so it stands to reason that they would be here too. I'll have to try it again this spring to see.

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I'm excited and encouraged that good fishing has started to return to this creek. It seems like most places these days are getting worse, so it's refreshing to see what can happen when we just leave something alone and let nature take its course. And it's nice to have another creek to put into the rotation.

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 Post subject: Re: Back to the Beginning
PostPosted: Sun Feb 05, 2012 7:45 am 
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Smallmouth Bass
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Joined: Mon Oct 05, 2009 6:31 pm
Posts: 266
Location: The Hollar
I'm thinking those uppity ACC people need a good dose of SEC blood rootin' around in the hollars. I know it's an overused saying, but damn, I gotta get up to SNP to fish those waters. I've got a lifetime supply of bucket-list streams in western NC, but you're making me think of a road trip to the Commonwealth in March. Great photos and beautiful fish. It's always a rich experience to go back to that first stream. The view is rewarding as you look back on the waters you've fished since then, and you always wonder what's up around the bend, so to speak. Thanks! -Knox

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 Post subject: Re: Back to the Beginning
PostPosted: Sun Feb 05, 2012 9:23 am 
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Brown Trout
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Joined: Sun Oct 05, 2008 7:50 pm
Posts: 2614
Location: the metropolis of Wagener
Those really are nice pics....I have'nt been much of a trout guy the last couple of years (mostly due to the expense of getting there)....but damn thats some nice scenery!!

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"The fish and I were both stunned and disbelieving to find ourselves connected by a line." William Humphrey


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 Post subject: Re: Back to the Beginning
PostPosted: Sun Feb 05, 2012 10:58 am 
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Brook Trout

Joined: Tue Sep 15, 2009 10:07 pm
Posts: 193
Location: Carson City, Nevada
Wonderful narrative and photos!!!

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 Post subject: Re: Back to the Beginning
PostPosted: Sun Feb 05, 2012 1:12 pm 
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Brook Trout
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Joined: Mon Nov 15, 2010 9:08 pm
Posts: 224
Location: Richmond, VA
Thanks fellas.

Knox, come in late April/early May. The dogwoods will be in bloom, there will be plenty of bugs out and the fish will be stupid for dry flies.

In fact, Marty and I were kicking around the idea of suggesting a get together, similar to PFF, around that time. We could set up camp on Skyline Drive and disburse to various streams in small groups. I know that's pretty close to Spring PFF time, but maybe I'll start a thread about it and see if there's any interest.


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 Post subject: Re: Back to the Beginning
PostPosted: Sun Feb 05, 2012 1:50 pm 
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Brown Trout
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Joined: Thu Jul 10, 2008 7:30 pm
Posts: 1464
Great pictures, that brought back some fond memories. Back before we lost our buddy Brent, we had several PFF events in/near the SNP. He loved hiking down from Skyline Drive, and hitting those streams.

Anyway, if y'all want to organize a SNP outing, go for it. I'm sure there are a number of forum members who would love the opportunity.


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 Post subject: Re: Back to the Beginning
PostPosted: Sun Feb 05, 2012 3:30 pm 
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Brown Trout
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Joined: Fri Mar 14, 2008 9:19 am
Posts: 2274
Location: Holston Mountain, Tenn
Damn nice report and narrative.

Good flicks for sure. Gotta love a colored up Brookie :mrgreen:


JT

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 Post subject: Re: Back to the Beginning
PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 9:01 am 
Dshort once again a nice report and great pictures. Cameron and I were talking yesterday about fishing the SNP. We would love to come and fish if we can put something together.


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 Post subject: Re: Back to the Beginning
PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2012 10:22 pm 
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Brook Trout

Joined: Sat Oct 10, 2009 2:23 pm
Posts: 218
Location: Lexington, SC
Great post & great pictures.


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