Tuesday, December 16, 2014


I motivated myself yesterday with the promise of a full day of fishing today to celebrate the weight lifted from my shoulders with the submission of a large assignment.  When my alarm went off (or rather, didn't), it was already apparent that the day would not go as planned.

    My alarm failed to ring at its preset time of 6:00 AM, and I awoke on my own at almost 7:00.  I promised my parents I would pick up a deck board from Better Living, and had hoped to be there when they opened at 7:00.  Rather, I arrived close to 8:00, and returned home at 8:30.  

    With the car packed and warmed up, I shut the hatchback of my Nissan Versa on the metal aglet of my wading boot lace, jamming the lock, and setting me back another hour.

    The destination I had planned to explore with my full day is a two hour drive from my Fluvanna County home, and so I racked my brain for alternative locations with a shorter driving time.  I settled my mind on a handful of brook trout streams I had not yet visited in northwestern Virginia, and oriented the Versa likewise.

    I arrived at the first stream around noon.  Large for a brook trout stream, and rather flat in most stretches, the water was notably frigid.  However, many of the larger pools featured long, flat tailouts, which will undoubtedly host a glorious scene of hatching insects and rising trout come spring.

Photo by Matt Reilly
    After striking out in several shallow but promising-looking riffles, I adjusted to fishing just larger pools, and took four decently-sized brook trout with that method.  A heavy #10 black stonefly nymph got the job done, though most of the trout were hooked very lightly--a reflection, probably, of the colder-than-desired water temperatures.

    I next took to the road, heading north, to scout one of the stream's larger tributaries.  A developing problem since trading in my F-150 for the economic Versa has been ground clearance, but I have been dealing well, partially due to the car's narrower frame.  An 11-minute zig-zagged drive along a curvy mountain road landed me on the bank of the mountain fork I was after.

Photo by Matt Reilly

Photo by Matt Reilly
    Again, occasional surprisingly-large pools spotted the stream's course through pine bottomland; but I didn't see enough slower, deeper holding water to convince me to string up my rod and angle for the winterized brookies.  I continued on.

    The last spot surprised me.  Often called a "small native trout stream," it held some unexpectedly-large pools, however infrequent.  The water in between was nothing more than a series of shallow stair-casing ledges, with the occasional deeper plunge pools.  I fished a few of the larger pools before striking off along a trail upstream, in search of better looking water.  I didn't find it, and I later found in a fishing report of the same stream that it commonly dries up completely in the summertime.  Perhaps this drought event has limited the number of fish in this otherwise-productive looking flowage.

Photo by Matt Reilly
    Though the day didn't go as planned, I had a liberating day checking off a few more of the Blue Ridge's brook trout streams from my bucket list.  On the route home, I payed a visit to Tommy and Kevin, co-owners of South River Fly Shop, for some fly tying materials, and good-old-fashioned fly shop talk.

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