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17 7-27-06 ~ Hot Sunny with 40% chance of a thunderstorm ~ Small Mountain Stream

The heat was oppressive, the humid air stagnant but filled with the promise of a thunderstorm. I left late in the afternoon hoping to get at least 3 or 4 hours on the stream before dark. The only relief would be a trip to the mountains to catch some trout and stand in a cool stream. As I drove up the mountain the clouds were growing into huge thunderheads and I wonders if they would move on or would I get caught in a storm on the stream. It started spitting a little but the sun was still shining so I headed up the trail and began to cool off in the water. The creek was in need on the rain as it was rather low despite the evidence that in days prior the water was up al least a foot higher, The grass was bend over on low islands and sand or mud was deposited at the edge of pools as the water receded. I searched for fish in the pocket water and deeper runs. I was fishing a #12 Joe's Hopper, one of my favorite patterns, although I wish I had a Schroeder's Parachute Hopper to help with the visibility of the fly on the dark tunnel of a stream. The steep mountains had blocked all of the direct sunlight and it appeared much later that it actually was. I waded carefully in the stream and crouched low against the bank as I approached each of the good looking holding spots. Even the slightest movement sent the smaller fish from the tails of the pools scurrying for cover of the deaths. I plopped the hopper into the middle on a pool and immediately the water exploded in a white froth as I hooked a brown it whipped the water it a froth as it fought. Then it dove to the bottem and ran to the head of the pool. The CFO's click and paw drag sang its sweet song. I worked the fish in and it ran again against the tightened drag. I soon had the fish to hand and tried to take its picture but it flopped loose and I got a shot of my empty hand. Next I caught a few small brookies in the shallow runs, I was surprised to see them so far down the creek, maybe the recent flood had carried them down. They looked out of place and endanger of becoming food for the browns! As the evening progressed yellow sallies began to come off the water in small numbers. I didn't see any fish rise but the occasional flash as the small ones took a nymph. I creeped up on a large pool from the side crawling on my stomach an inched to the edge of the overhanging boulder. Looking down at the undisturbed pool I noticed three or four small trout moving about. They didn't hold their position all that steadily, but down in the middle I noticed the stationary shadow of a large brown. This trout was about 18" long and just hung about 6" off the bottom waiting and wasting any energy though unnecessary movement. I studied the pool and planned my attack. I would try the hopper, hoping that this brown would be as greedy as the last one. As the line shot out from a single cast the fish bolted and it's shadows turned to mud as the fish rocketed to cover under a boulder at the head of the pool. A little later I cast to another pool and the hopper sat there in the middle for what seamed an eternity before a brown slashed and it clearing the water as I set the hook. The fish ran hard and once again the CFO sang as line ran out of the guides. This brown was bigger than the last one and put up a good fight on the two weight. As I was fighting this brown I wondered what it would be like to fight a smallie on this tiny rod. I was a good ways up the trail now and it was beginning to get hard to see the fly at the end of the cast. One more pool and then it would be time to hike on out.

16 July 14, 2006 ~ New River VA, Hot - Partly Cloudy to bright sun

The easiest way isn't always the best way to do things. I put the kayaks on top of the van right side up with hopes that we would beat any thunderstorms on the way to camp. Boy was I wrong. We had to pull off in Jonesville and flip them over before they filled with water from the cloudburst.  My son and his friend went inside to laugh at my attempts to flip and relash the kayaks in the storm, even under the shelter of the gas station I was still getting wet as the rain was driven sideways. We drove on up to the campground and it was pretty dry up there. Ralph, Steve and Mark were already there and after we had set up camp Mark and Ralph went on up to River Road to do some wading, but that was short lived as another storm blew trough. I left the boys and camp and drove on down to the take-out and joined Mark and Ralph for some fishing. I only managed one to hit but that was on a cast gone wrong and with too much slack line to every hope to set the hook. Ralph hooked one with a sneaky pete but Bill Danced it and then to add insult to injury the fish spit the fly and Ralph and I watched it float on downstream. I headed back to camp to check on the boys. Later Ralph told me he caught three right after I left.
By the time I got back to camp FT & BrentG along with Paul, Minchy, X-Capt. Bill and Disco had arrived. The five campsites were filling up.  We all cooked up our dinners and gathered around FT's picnic table for late night drink and conversation. Crab dip, salsa and chips were served along with the beer. Then we were interrupted by Big Daddy and his girl friend Buttercup. We won't go into detail here but it's safe to say that they provided some unique entertainment. Finally we hit the sack leaving the shuttle details for the morning.

The next morning Steve and I parked his truck down at the take out and once we returned the launching of the flotilla began. The river was flowing @ 1700 cfs and had some color to it but was clear enough to see the rocks and several feet to the bottom. Two canoes, two kayaks 5 or 6 one man toons and Ralph two man job. I was about the last to launch just behind the boys in the kayak. I started fishing with a Todd’s Wiggle Minnow (tiger pattern)It wasn't long before I was into some decent looking water just below the islands and I hooked a nice smallies who fought and jumped hard. A few cast later I had another one from the same hole. I floated on down casting to the bank and catching the occasional smallie. I got tired of casting the wiggle minnow and switched to a gurgler. I finally caught up with the boys who had stopped at the head of some rapids, I stopped at the first eddy below them and caught a nice smallie and after putting it back I cast again to the same spot this time the water erupted and a nice sized smallie took the gurgler! It jumped and ran zigging and zagging through the current. It put a good bend it the rod and I was glad that I was fishing with 1x instead of the usually 6x for trout. The fish jumped twice more and ran just about every which way trying to get away, I had to work hard to keep it from getting under the ledge where it surely would have cut the leader. I tightened up the drag and let the fish work a little more before I was able to bring it to the boat.

Everybody else was moving through the water quickly and I was bringing up the rear for most of the trip. I kept pushing through good water to catch up to the boys and the rest of the flotilla. I was worried that the boys would end up past the take out…..so I passed up a lot of good fishing. Towards the end of the float I even spotted a riser that I was able to cast to and wham it hit the gurgler! Way cool! By the time we got to the take out everybody was about done in from the heat and sun. For the next hour or two we worked the shuttles to bring all of the boats back to camp. Then everybody was ready for a cold drink and a hot shower and some good food too!. A couple of guys had to leave and Disco tried to leave but it took an hour or two to find his keys. Everybody who stayed turned in early on Sunday we all headed off in different directions. Some went trout fishing, others stayed on the new and I took the boys to stone mountain for some cold water fun. Great trip, got to meet with a few new board members and a lot of old friends too.

On the way back home I got a Cingular signal and receive FT's message from Friday night's drive down 81, he sounded worried about the weather and stated that it was raining hard and they were having trouble telling the difference between the river and the road and that they had both sets of oars out to help move the car along???

Plans are in the works for another smallie trip on the new below Claytor lake
in late Aug or sometime in September and we are going to get together next spring for the shad run on the Rappahannock. http://www.dgif.state.va.us/FISHING/rivers/rappahannock/

15 July 8, 2006 ~ Smith River VA

On a cool July morning a dozen or more friends of Ben Cochran gathered for a going away fishing trip. Even if the alarm didn't go off and I left 2 hours late I still found Ben (OTS) in the parking lot talking to Damselfly. The mirror plant parking lot was about full but everybody else was on the stream. I jumped into the conversation and even after Damsel had to leave to finish a painting (a likely story) Ben gave me the grand tour of the Smith. We spent the next three hours traveling up and down the river stopping at a dozen access points and discussing, in detail, the nature of the currents and holding patterns of the fish in each section. Ben recalled the 19" brown taken out of one spot and a 20" from another. He has been fishing the river since he was eight year old. I a way he was saying good buy to a good friend. Even though he will be living in Europe for the next several years he will always carry the memories of fishing the Smith with him.

Thanks to Ralph (ODG3), Devensdan and the others for the cook-out, everything was great. I think The Low had the high number of fish for the day as reported by Ralph with 15+ from the Special Reg section. I didn't even wet a line until well after the cook-out when Ben, Ralph an I hit a spot "over the hill", we were hoping for an evening hatch but it never really turned on.

I began casting a cdc pattern into the scum line and had a couple of hits, changing flies several times as the evening worn on I finally hooked a fish but it though the hook shortly into the game. A little latter while retrieving the fly it skated across the surface and a fish rose to it. I began using this technique and caught an 8" brown. Ben and I caught a couple and Ralph got five. We fished till dark when the bats came out and were feeding on the bugs that we couldn't see. Then we talked for another hour before saying our final goodbye's to the master of the Smith.  Thanks for sharing your river with us Ben!

14 July 3, 2006 ~ Smallsteam NC

Took off Monday afternoon to fish a small NC steam. Caught a few on a beetle and was trying to entice a large brown to take a hopper but all I got was a refusal. I fished small runs and pocket water changing flies often and doing the best with a BWO. Saw a lot of deer both on the trail and in the stream. A few yellow sallies were coming off the water and the fly enticed a couple of browns to take it. I caught about 9 or 10.
BFFFF fly fishing NC stream doe on the trail BRFFF brown trout fly fishing NC Buck in the stream NC fly fishing BRFFF

13 June 27, 2006 ~ Watauga River TN

Chris and I booked a trip but then the rain came and there was a lot of flooding on the eastern side of the mountains. The Watauga was up for a couple of days. For out trip the river was back down to a normal flow with a slight green cast. I was a lot clearer than we had anticipated due to the recent rains. We floated from the put-in below Elizabethon and floated through the trophy section. My son joined me reluctantly, his ideal summer vacation involves sleeping till 11 and the 6 AM wake-up call put him in a teenage mood. I tossed a bunny leach for a while and then switched over to the standard double nymph watauga rig. I foul hooked four bows in a row. Now these 22 ~ 24 nymphs were just outside of the mouth, left right, up and down... It was not until the fifth fish that I actually got a decent hook set only to be followed by yet another foul hooked fish. Yikes. The fish just weren't hitting and things were pretty slow for much of the float. Even "productive" runs and eddies proved to be difficult. Chris caught a couple but was bored and ended up having more fun rowing the raft. "Guide in Training".

Long day with a couple of half decent fish but not exactly what I had dreamed about the night before.....

Note: Always take a picture of the first fish (they just might be the best fish of the day

12 June 17, 2006 - James River VA

As Lauri and I got back into the truck for the long ride home we noticed that the little yellow stone flies were copulating right there in front of us on the wind shield. This was better than a drive in movie and I decided right then that the title of this trip report would be "Sex on the Windshield"

The BRFFF James river float started early Saturday morning with a three hour drive to Buchanan Virginia. I pick up Damselfly in Martinsville and we continued up 220 North to Roanoke and on to I-81 and Buchanan. We ran into FT with his trailer carrying his toon and a borrowed toon for Laurie, thanks Brent, at a pit stop and then we continued on to the Springwood take-out on the James. Lepomis Macro was waiting in the parking lot and we all began assembling toons to stack on FT's trailer. We then headed up river to the Horseshoe put-in. By the way let me tell you that Virginia has done an excellent job with the river access points with easy access and plenty of parking. There were a lot of canoes and johnboats being launched along with our four toons. FT said were were on the water by 10:30.

Bruce Ingram's The James River Guide indicated that the post spawn fish would "be on vacation" and hanging out in deep pools and cover, not being as aggressive as in the pre-spawn months. With that in mind I had tied up some of Harry Murry's hellgrimates and clouser minnows. I started out in the first deep riffle with the hellgrimite on a sink tip but not fish came and I floated on down. Just below this riffle I caught my first hard fishing smallmouth. Spread out across the river all of us got into some bass. The day was hot and the sky was cloudless with the occasional hint of a breeze. The fishing was slow but consistent for most of the day and I caught more smallmouth, a few fall fish, redbreast, a couple of red-eye perch and bream. The hellgrmite was the most consistent producer, but I did manage a few on the surface with gurglers, poppers, and sneaky Pete's.

Later in the afternoon things slowed down and I went back subsurface with the clouser. I caught four out of a long deep run before moving on. Below the next rapid I caught two more on a cone head hellgrimate. Then we got into a long slack water stretch and things really slowed down. We were casting up against the bank but nobody was home. Finally I got into some red eye's and finished the day with a bluegill. We hauled the toons out at 8:00 PM and after the shuttle we drove to Buchanan for dinner at Marcelo's Pizzeria. It was after dinner and good buy handshakes and hugs that Laurie and I noticed the stoneflies mating on the windshield.

BRFFF damselfly FT pontoon James River Fly Fishing smallie smallmouth bass fly fishing James River VA BRFFF fly fishing James Rvier smallmouth bass

11 May 28, 2006 ~ S. Holston River TN

I was hoping for a repeat of the sulphur action from the previous week. There were bugs coming off the river and there were a few sporadic risers and I couldn't find the right fly. There weren't interested in any of the sulphur patterns that I carries, I even tried BWO and midges. I couldn't see what there were taking. I finally gave up on trying to catch them on dries and moved on down to a nice run. Tied on a copper john with a pt dropper added a split shot and strike indicator and picked off a series of rainbows. They fought hard jumping a running down into the pool below. I also broke off a couple of good fish, I think they were browns by the way they fought, never can be sure of the size of the ones that get away, but I'd like to think they were about twenty... Then as the day progressed I worked the flats under the power lines again the fish were rising more regularly and I once again threw a number of patterns at them w/o success. The would rise to take a natural right besides my imitation. Frustration! I did managed to pick off a couple of browns but it wasn't easy. Moving into position I walked up on two of the largest browns that I've ever seen in the river. They were still picking off nymphs but not for long as my motion sent them across the river. I moved on up to another run and nymphed that w/o any hookups and was about to call it quits whiled walking back to the car I found a message finger painted on my windshield, "Hi Woolly" I went on down the road to another spot and tied on a sulphur and bam, bam, bam. I caught three nice rainbows. The bugs were really starting to pop off the water and I was sure the fishing would continue to be great but it was getting dark and it was 4:18 since the dam release. I stepped out of the river as the water began to rise. Excuse the quality of the photos as they were taken by a phone camera.

10 May 21, 2006 ~ Beaverdam River TN

Day three of PFF v.13 slept in late for some reason I was tired. We had some cleaning up to do, packing up the cooking supplies, tents and coolers. Coffee was running low at the camp so we headed down the road to get a fresh cup forgetting DD on the way. We waited and drank our coffee as he caught up. Our plans were to fish the Beaverdam for a couple of hours before hitting the road home. Since this was a smaller stream I pulled out the 6'6" 2 weight and began tossing a stimulator into the pocket water. I picked off a nice little bow. Moving on down the water was faster and deeper. We picked a section with some really fast and deep runs. I kept putting more shot on the line. I caught this bow with 4 shot on in a deep run. It was my last fish of the trip.

We headed north into Damascus and then north to I-81 and then back down south on 77. Logic would say that this was way out of the way and that the quickest way home would be on 421 but we made it back to Winston in two and a half hours shaving an hour off of the 421 route.

9 May 20, 2006 ~ Watauga River TN

Got up early and had some coffee thanks to Creek Scum and some cold biscuits and gravy. As Jedi and I were getting ready leave knowing we'd have to be back by 4:00 for KP at the camp, the breakfast crew started warming up the gravy and cooking the sausage. I grabbed a sausage and got into the Explorer with Jedi to head to the Super Secret Spot on the Watauga. We hiked in and the water looked promising. There were some bugs coming off but no risers, Jedi took the head of the run and nymphed it without luck. Later I hooked a few in there and Jedi moved up into the pocket water and caught three. The PFF flotilla moved on through and we sat hoping that the hatch would improve and the fish would start rising. We gave it another hour but the fishing never really got hot.

We hiked out and moved on down to Sycamore Shoals only to find the water way up and the runs pretty much unfishable. I told jedi to hit a pocket and he hooked up on the first cast. He finally landed one out of that spot. I moved on down to the flats but I knew there was no way to fish it with all the water that was moving through. I moved up to the head of the run and found some slack water and put on an extra shot and hooked a nice 14" brown. I called Jedi over to take a photo, put as I picked the fish up out of the net it wiggled free before Jedi could snap the shutter.
Watauga PFF FlotillaJust Judy floating the Watauga Watauga Brown Trout

7 May 19, 2006 ~ S. Holston River TN

Jedi and I, after a false start arrived at the PFF v.13 camp site and set-up tents and unloaded coolers before heading over to the S. Holston with Devensdan and Carter. We hit the Big Springs road and finally found an empty pull-off. Jedi and I took the lower end of the run with DD in the middle and Carter worked the upper end of the section. There were a lot of fly fishermen on the river fro a Friday afternoon. Sulfurs were popping and the trout were rising. Everybody caught some nice trout. I had a couple of good ones on the line but lost one due to knot failure and the other got off while I was waiting for Jedi to take a picture. Most of the fish were caught on sulphur patterns, more orange than yellow in color. Carter and DD had KP duties so they left at four and Jedi and I moved on down to to Rockhold area. There were a few risers and I was working a run when I spied a nice rise off to the left in another channel. It looked like a good fish and it was sipping sulfurs. Three or four cast later it sipped in my fly and the battle began. I fought the fish for a couple of minutes before it came to the net but it gave a little run again before I could get it in the net. Thanks to Jedi's phone camera I have a shot of it...
S. Holston Brown Trout S. Holston Brown Trout fishing the S. Holston on Big Springs Rd.

6 May 12, 2006 - The Mitchell River - Delayed Harvest Stream 70's Sunny

I don't know why I went to the Mitchell, sure it's nice to catch fish, but the river isn't all that attractive and the fish, well the fish are hatchery rainbow and brows that have been recently tossed into the river. They behave differently than wild trout. So the experience isn't exactly rewarding even if is nice to spend some time wading in the stream. It was Friday morning and I could get away for a couple of hours and I had read that the Smith was generating most of the day. The Mitchell is the closest "trout" water, so I guess that's how I ended up there. I parked in the lot off of the paved section not willing to suffer the sometimes malodorous section off of the dirt road. There was only one other car parked and I hoped for some "private water". I didn't see the other anglers as I walked downstream. I started fishing a long deep run and convinced myself that I should be able to get these hatchery trout to rise to a dry. The trout didn't want anything to do with the numerous dries that I offered even though I saw an occasional fish rise to a natural. I finally gave up and tied on an Original Cat Caddis, tied by John Thomas himself. Soon after I had caught a nice little brown, but was puzzled that I didn't get quite a few more from this usually productive run. I was going to work downstream but another angler was moving up behind me. So I fished back upstream but soon ran into a guide and his client. I waited and then fished through their water picking up a fish or two that they had missed... Then at the run by the bridge a spin fisherman came down the bank at I was getting the fish that run. He cast his wiggle worm without success but I hooked a nice 14" brown out of the deep run...

5 March 23, 2006 - Smith River VA - Sunny 50's

The water was down in Basset when I arrived, I don't think they ran the generators as planned ( 6 - 10) but they were releasing some water out of the dam from one of the rounds holes located on the face of the dam. All I can tell you is that the water was cold and I forgot my wading socks having to suffer with cotton instead. After a couple of hours my toes were aching! Fishing was slow. I expected to pick up a few more browns on a PT nymphs but only a couple came to hand. Only a few midges were flying about and I didn't see a trout rise at all. Inspecting rock bottoms the nymphs (BWO? were pretty active and looked ripe! I really was planning to call Al and fish with him but didn't decided to go until late last night.
Smith River VA fly fishing

4 March 16, 2006 - Mitchell River Delayed Harvest Fishing - upper 50's sunny - March Browns

Brookies,brows and rainbows...the DH grand slam.....Well it is a shorter dirve to the Mitchell, and there are a lot of eager fish in the water but it is such an unnatural way to fish. Not that it's not fun, but it sort of takes the sport out of it....I was a little surprised to see as many cars parked along the river, but it really wasn't crowded and I did get to fish one of my favorite stretches just above the low water bridge. March browns were coming off the water but the fish weren't really looking up, took the first couple on an improved cat caddis, then I managed to coax a couple more to hit an adams, and then went back under with a copper john to finish up with a dozen or so. The last one was a brookie and rounded out the delayed harvest slam....Nice day in the upper 50's with a breeze and some clouds mixed in with the bright sunshine...some of the fish were going ballastic chasing emergers, and I managed to get some on the copper john...

Mitchell River Delayed harvest NC Trout

3 March 13, 2006 - Smith River VA - Sunny 80

Managed a couple of hours on this bright sunny and very warm spring day. No bugs at all were coming off the water. Had to fish the falling water below the dam. Took a couple of small browns on a PT. A hatch would be nice...

2 March 9, 2006 - Smith River VA - Partly Cloudy 70 and Windy!

I got to downtown Basset just as the water was rising from the 6 o'clock release. A spin fisherman was below the library and had a nice stringer full of trout. I headed up towards the dam and found the water exceeded at the "No Trespassing" sign. With a fisherman below me I headed up stream. The weather was warm and promised sunshine, but the wind was blustery blowing down the river and making fly fishing troublesome. It wasn't the casting that was difficult but rather keeping a drag free drift as the wind caught the fly like and pulled out the slack. I fished an allie worm across and down and got one hit, hooked a nice bow that would have gone 16+ inches, but the slow hook set enabled the fish to get off. Around noon the wind died down and the sun began to peak from behind the clouds. I switched to a #22 PT and hooked the rainbow pictured below. Just as conditions were improving I had to leave and head home. I didn't see any hatches, no bugs at all. On the way out I noticed the beaver's marks, this is the first sign of them that I have seen, but Shane assures me that they have been in there for a while...
Smith River Rainbow Trout Beaver's on the Smith River Rainbow Trout on the Smith River

1 January 28, 2006 - Smith River VA

Finally got a day to go fish, well half a day anyway.

Fished about 3/4 the way to the dam in some riffles and managed to get one brown on a red brassie....

Nice looking fish but the only one that came to hand on this beautiful day.
Smith Rainbow Rainbow 2006