Monday, January 21, 2013

"No Name" Stream, George Washington National Forest

David, Chris, and I decided to go fishing and stumbled upon this stream.  It's probably typical of the small streams that are not listed in the guide books but that exist throughout the Shenandoah National Park and Jefferson and George Washington National Forests.  Go explore!

David and I left Norfolk at 5 am and rendezvoused with Chris in Hampton and headed up Rt. 64 towards the mountains.  We were feeling adventurous so we veered off the grid and found our little no name stream.

This was our first trip of the year so it took a little while to shake off the rust and get our gear squared away.

We worked our way upstream hop-scothching each other and allowing each angler a string of pools before jumping in and casting.  There were midges floating around and the temperature was in the 50's so we were hoping that we might be treated to an afternoon hatch and some rising fish. 

To start though, I used a red brassie nymph that has served me well last winter.  The first couple series of pools did not produce anything for me.  This is not out of the ordinary since I would call my nymphing skills rudimentary at best.  Chris fishes with much more poise and confidence; to this I aspire! 

After maybe an hour, I saw the strike indicator twitch, I lifted the rod and brought this little guy to hand.  The Chub King strikes again! Not well versed in identifying these guys, my guess is that this is a rosyface shiner.

After many other hit-less pools, I switched to a pheasant tail nymph, but still was having trouble getting a bite and I was smart enough to know that all these pools could not be empty.

It may be not true, but it seemed to me that all the logjams, sticks in the stream, and the abundance of overhanging vegetation that the stream was getting less pressure than similar plunge-pool dominated streams like the Rapidan.  It certainly made the stream more technical to fish and all my snags in and out of the water were a testament that I had not yet brought my A game.

As I worked upstream I saw this big piece of meat!

Man!  The crawdads I tie are WAY TOO SMALL!

Since I wasn't doing so well, I decided to watch Chris and learn from the master.  Here he is on a sweet run.

This was a beautiful steam with the recent snow filling all the creeks and feeders.

Here's David wielding the bamboo with crouching tiger moves.  

Chris at the top of this picturesque run choosing a winning fly combo.

Rock art.

Chris could see I was struggling so in an act of utmost kindness, he gave me the best pool I'd seen all day.  Yes, I chose my friends wisely!  I missed the first two hits, and then landed three nice, palm-sized, wild brookies.

After catching each one, I released the brookie downstream so as not to spook the pool.  Afterwards, I wondered what effect this had on the poor fish.  I imagine they gravitate to the pools as preferred habitat for feeding and living.  Maybe they will just swim downstream until they find the next pool, but what if that pool already had it's carrying capacity of fish?  I'm wondering how tightly coupled the number or size of the pools and number of fish are.  I will have to try and find out what the responsible release action should be.  I can live with only catching one per pool if it's important to release the fish back into the same pool he came from.

Here's Chris working another beautiful run.

Here he is on another late in the afternoon.

The dry fly hatch we had hoped for never came and as the sun got hung up in the hills and the stream fell into shadow, the temperature seemed to drop 10 degrees.  We layered up and pressed on, but agreed to call it quits at 4 pm so we could bushwhack back to the car before dark.

At around 4 pm, I promised myself one more pool.  I caught a nice brookie, but then Chris hop-scotched me so I felt liberated from my resolution.  I found one more promising pool and landed this little brookie - so young, he still had his par marks.

OK, I didn't want to be greedy so I stopped.  We all rendezvoused and headed back to the car picking up beer cans, plastic pop bottles, and candy wrappers as we went.  I truly can't understand the mindset of those that desecrate these beautiful natural spaces.  Unbelievable!

Anyway, it was a great day with great friends, on beautiful water.  We're blessed to live in Virginia and with access to such great year-round trout fishing.  Looking forward to stumbling upon more jewels.  Stay tuned..... 

If you enjoyed this blog post and value VA trout streams, then let Governor McDonnell know that you do not want to allow fracking in the public parks and forests!  

1 comment:

KevinDuBoisPhoto said...

Here's some feedback regarding releasing brookies into a different poll from where they were caught.

If you are releasing a fish within the same general area, say less than 100 yards from where it was caught, it should not make a difference. The fish know the stream and the numbers of fish in any given riffle or pool can change from day to day. I did my graduate research on rainbow trout movement and found an individual fish can show one of two characteristics from the same pool. There are “movers”, those that will travel up and down the same stretch of river and swim all throughout the reach, and there are “home bodies”, those that never left a certain pool. That being said, when my research required to move the “home bodies” up to 100 yards, they were always found a few days later back in the same pool. In other words, if you move a fish a little ways and it wants to go back, it won’t take it long to get there. Good luck with the fishing. Brookies are beautiful!

Aaron Cushing
Fish & Wildlife Biologist and Environmental Scientist
SOLitude Lake Management
Office: 888-480-5253
Fax: 888-358-0088