Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Season Begins

Glady Fork, Randolph County, WV  May 29,2009

Low gray clouds loom on the horizon. A cold front has moved through the region, dragging a steady drizzle behind. The air temperature is in the mid-fifties, fog is settling in. The streamside parking areas are void of vehicles. A few days ago, there wasn’t room to park. I pull into a wide spot below a normally crowded bridge, not one angler is in sight.

I watch the river, while tying on my leader. A pair of green drakes emerges and head upstream, their destination seems to be an overhanging birch. They are consumed by a tree swallow, before reaching the tree. I tie on a pair of Picket Pins. I do not see any feeding activity near the bridge hole. I move downstream where a swift riffle has gouged out a deep area undercutting a system of tree roots. The first cast results in a missed strike from the root system. I roll-cast to the same spot and hook a fourteen inch rainbow, the fish is released. A mink works its way upstream and enters the root system. I notice a dead rainbow about eighteen inches long, at the tail of the pool. Hopefully, the mink can make some use of the deceased trout.

I fish downstream, wet flies swinging in the current and not much is happening. The creek chubs aren’t even interested. Various flies are hatching, a few sulphurs, blue-winged olives and green drakes, but not enough of anything to bring trout to the surface. I find four browns at a fallen hemlock. They aren’t interested in anything that I show them. They just sulk on the bottom. Darkness is quickly approaching. I see a rise downstream, at the next river bend. I move down and observe. The trout are feeding heavily, slashing the surface. Cream colored caddis flies are hovering just above the water’s surface. They have started a feeding frenzy with the previously lethargic trout becoming willing participants.

I dig through my box and find an elk hair caddis. I struggle to get the tippet through the hook eye, in the failing light. Each cast results in a hook-up or a slashing miss. I can no longer tell were the fly is and strike at every nearby rise. The action is fast and furious, in fifteen minutes; I caught and released 7 small browns and rainbows. Then it happened. The fly drifted toward the pools tail, a noisy splash, the line is tight and the weight of the fish is noticeable. The line goes limp, fish and fly are gone. I begin the upstream walk to my truck, through the fog and drizzle. The season has officially begun.

The trout fishing season in West Virginia is year-round, but for me and others the season begins when the trout stocking ends. The crowds disappear, parking lots are empty and the fishing on most streams is excellent. There are plenty of trout available and as long as the water level stays fishable there is good fly fishing on most streams well into July. Head for any of the trout streams in the mountains of West Virginia and enjoy the mountain laurel bloom, along with some excellent fly hatches. You will not be disappointed. Always remember that the fishing begins when the stocking ends.
Tan Elk Caddis Fly, Size 16, Price Per 3 Flies

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