David wanted to catch a brookie. Since brookie zen master Chris introduced me to the Rapidan, David and I hatched a plan for a trip back to these beautiful plunge pools in search of native trout. This time, on March 19, we were also joined by my friend Andy.
The weather was better this time around so we were able without 4-wheel drive to go over the "hill" on Quaker Run Road and park along the stream a mile or two upstream from the Graves Mill Trail. We saved on walking time and that gave us more fishing time.
There were bugs all around and that gave us hope for some dry fly action. We rigged and got ready to go.
Even though I had seen a few rises, I thought I would go with a more optimal forage food and started fishing with nymphs. Last time a bead-headed pheasant tail nymph caught fish so I started with that. I fished several productive looking pools, but by lunchtime I had not gotten a bite. The predicted rain had not come and it was warm.
After lunch, I fished a couple of different nymphs. Perhaps traces of wood on the hook from all the tree snags was tipping off the fish.
Finally, I found the right fly. It was a red Copper John and I caught two fish in the same pool.
Brookies are such beautiful fish that sometimes you just have to stop fishing and admire them.
This fish also was fooled by the Copper John. What is it?
I continued to rock-hop my way upstream to fish beautiful pool after beautiful pool.
David was getting hits on a stimulator and I made a mental note that next time I would come prepared with a small stimulator or similar pattern for the small pockets of fast water.
After catching the brookies on nymphs, I decided to switch to a dry fly. On the earlier trip, Chris had mentioned that the Adams was a good fly to use on the Rapidan, so I tied a parachute Adams on (with a post for these old eyes).
I was having some fun with two tiny fish on a ribbon of water off the mainstem. Like in so many other places, there seemed to be a branch either wedged in the stream or dangling over the river in the worst place for making a cast. I would cast, and the fly would wrap around this branch sticking out of the water leaving the fly swinging right above the water surface. Of course, the little fish would jump and try to hit the swinging fly! It was fun seeing them go after my tangled casts, but I am thankful they never got hooked. For a milli-second I considered removing the branch from the stream, but then I thought about the protection it afforded these little fish (from anglers) and so I left it.
I found a few cooperative fish in a larger pool on the mainstem of the Rapidan and they took the Adams vigorously.
How can it be anything other than a great day on the river? Thanks Andy and David! There are many more streams in this area to explore. We're already talking about a camping trip next year to take advantage of more days to explore. Can't wait!