Books, culture, fishing, and other games

June 30, 2004

Best Laid Plans...

I'd hoped to fish the Chattahoochee a little while in Atlanta, but apparently the rain I drove through had passed through Atlanta. The river was up and ugly. And then it rained more Saturday. And again Sunday just as I got to the river to check it. It usually takes a few days for the runoff to drain and the river to clear again, so I was looking at Wednesday. That wouldn't do. And the forecast was more rain.

So I hit the Kroger Monday at 11am to get my tags renewed and climbed back in the Explorer, my tackle already loaded, and headed back north to DC. I figured I was better off basing out of the apartment there than going straight to western Virginia. I was in by 10pm.

I needed to do some errands before fishing, but got those cleared away by 11am. I did a bit of online research, then I hit the local fly shop to scan the latest books on Virginia flyfishing and pick up a few flies in whatever pattern the local guys said were taking fish. Turned out to be beetles and ants, which makes sense since it's summer. Then I headed out I-66, stopping at a WalMart to pickup up my license and trout stamp, then on to Harrisonburg.

The word is the mountain streams are in drought conditions. The water levels are very low and the water is warm, as a result the brookies are stressed. So I decided to stick to the spring creeks in the area. Mossy Creek went on the list, but I decided to try to get onto a fee stretch or two of some of the others in the area. Unfortunately, all but Beaver Creek were booked up. I went ahead and booked Beaver for Thursday.

Then I scrambled over to Game and Fisheries in Verona before 5pm to pick up my permit for Mossy. I eyed the sun, decided it was still pretty high, and headed back up to Harrisonburg to check into the Sleep Inn. I still made it to Mossy Creek by 6pm.

The shade from the trees on the west side was well over the water, and a few small trout were rising as I strung up my rod. I tied on a beetle and walked down from the bridge a bit planning to fish back upstream and be near the car at dusk. The stream is exactly as I remember it: full of vegetation, pasture on the east side, tree border on the west. Most of the rises I saw were over under the trees, across a strong current, so drag was going to present some serious issues. And there there were the four-foot tall thistles and other hungry weeds, just waiting for a sloppy backcast. It's amazing how easy it is to drop my backcast low when I'm focusing on throwing slack upstream to let my beetle float somewhat naturally for a few feet.

Despite a few disagreements with the weeds, I managed to pick up three little browns on the way back to the bridge. At the bridge proper there was a whole little pod of small browns sipping something. There's a riffle just upstream of the bridge, then it flattens a bit, so it's the sort of spot for hatch activity, but I sure couldn't see what they were taking. I tried a #20 Adams, they would look it over and turn away. They did the same with the beetle. I'd tried an ant earlier with similar responses downstream, so I didn't try that again.

It was dim enough that I couldn't see my dark flies at all. The post on the Adams was still visible, barely, but there was no way I was going to be able to see well enough to thread another fly that small onto my tippet. As usual I forgot a small flashlight. My eyes just aren't up to the job without good light. I can tie an improved clinch by feel, but I can't thread a 7x tipper through a #20 eye that way.

So I stuck with the beetle and moved on, looking for opportunistic feeders.

Before I found any, I ran into a couple of local fisherman coming back downstream to the parking lot. We chatted for a while. A decent fish rose just up from us and I gave it a shot. It was at the base of a small riffle, ubder a big oak. I could just barely make the rollcast work, about 30 feet upstream, but didn't get him to take before a branch did. It was well wrapped too, so I ended up breaking off the fly.

That was it. We all walked back to the parking lot, chatting about other streams, then parted, wishing each other luck for tomorrow.

I should be sleeping. I plan to get up in time to try for the trico fall I hear may still be going. 6am is way too soon.

But I'll dream tonight, of finally making the 20-20 club. Best I've done is 18-18. Mossy Creek holds the fish, but will they be sipping tricos? I sure wouldn't bet on it, but I can dream.

And now I will.

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