3.27.2013

The right place at the right time

My last work trip brought me to our nation's capital, Washington D.C. for a satellite communications exposition. Of the 9 days I was there, I only had 1 solid day where I could actually get out and do some fishing.

My original plan was to make a 2 hour drive to the mountain streams of Virginia in search of wild brook trout. I was rather excited about the prospect of casting dry flies with the new 2wt to eager brook trout until I went to purchase my fishing license the night before. As I navigated Virginia DNR's website, I had to get a up a few times to make sure my eyes weren't playing tricks on me. I even took my contacts out thinking that they must be dry or something. $72 in license fees for 1 day of fishing?! Exsqueeze me? I beg your pardon?

That can't be right. I thought for sure I was simply misunderstanding the poorly laid out website so I called the customer service number just to make sure. After a 5 minute call with the gentleman on the other end of the line, I realized that I did indeed understand the website correctly and my eyes were not playing tricks on me.

In short, f*%k that!

On to plan "B" which consisted of fishing a place called Gorman Park in Maryland which was about a 25 minute drive from my hotel. Luckily, Maryland is a place with much more reasonable fishing license costs. I had heard about this place somewhere on the internet so I figured it would be a good place to start. If nothing was happening there, I would drive 10 minutes further to another section of the same river that I have fished several times before and have always caught something.

With me was my long time friend and coworker, Shannon. He is also a fly fisherman who happens to be left handed so it's always a pleasure to fish with him since we can stand side by side and not get in each other's way. Gorman park yielded nothing and there wasn't a thing moving in the ultra clear water or hiding in the very limited structure. After a couple of hours of exploring, we decided to head to our proven spot.


As we walked to our favorite hole in that stretch, we noticed a white truck and a few guys with buckets standing by the river. Instantly, I was getting my phone out to call the DNR and report the bucket heads. As we continued towards this truck,  I noticed a few of the guys had badges and then noticed the DNR stickers on the truck when it dawned on me. They weren't bucket heads! They were stocking the river! Unsure of what this meant in terms of being allowed to fish, I asked the question, "Can we still fish?" To which one of the guys replied, "Absolutely! The river is open!"

After a bit more conversation, we hit the water to see fish everywhere! It seemed peculiar to me as I watched fish after fish hit the surface. I saw no visible hatches so I was quite perplexed as to what they were doing. I never really figured it out, but the choice of which fly to use seemed obvious to me - DRY FLIES!

Well, it turns out the obvious choice wasn't really the right choice. As a matter of fact, the next hour or so was spent trying everything from dries to nymphs to eggs and even a few worm patterns. Not a single fish was taken during that time.

Finally, one of the volunteers who was helping with the stocking came down and started tossing a spinner right next to us. His first dozen or so casts resulted in almost as many fish before he decided to move up stream a bit. That was all I needed to figure it out......

FLASH!

These fish wanted something moving pretty quick and they wanted something with a lot of flash. Out came some crystal buggers and in came the fish.

Over the next several hours, we caught so many fish that I lost count. Most were 10 to 12 inches and very aggressive. A few bigger ones came to hand as well including a couple pushing 16 inches. I only took pictures of two fish the entire day. Picture one was the first rainbow of the day and the second was my first golden rainbow trout ever.

First rainbow of the day
Every fish was exciting but a few of those fish were absolute rockets when it came to hitting the fly. One of my favorite fish that was landed was a golden that chased the fly down for a good twenty feet before it finally took a swipe at it. Watching that thing chase down the fly that was just inches below the surface was simply awesome.

It may not be as grand as catching wild trout in some remote stream, but it sure beats catching nothing. They still presented a challenge as the presentation had to be pretty specific for them to actually hit the fly instead of just following it. Too slow and they lost interest. Too fast and they didn't even pay attention. Loose the rhythm on the strip and they darted the opposite direction. In the end, a lesson was learned when it came catching stockers on the fly - use something with a lot of flash and keep it moving!



First golden rainbow trout for me
*edit: A fellow angler corrected me - it isn't an albino rather a golden rainbow trout

24 comments:

  1. Virginia needs to make some changes regarding their out of state and trout licensing fees. I would love to have my relatives up and take them fishing, but it would cost us a fortune to do so.

    As a Virginian, I am appalled. Virginia has some great fisheries, but the high fees are seriously hindering fishing tourism.

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    1. Absolutely right! It's almost as if they are trying to keep revenue down by making it so expensive to fish there the people just don't bother. Do they not know the revenue loss for the rest of the economy that these outrageous fees cause?

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  2. Sounds like you had a great time, and got some great experience in the process.Those Virginia fees are outrageous, but at least you got to fish.

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    1. It really was a great time. In all reality, I would have had a blast in VA as well but the costs kept me away. I had just as much fun in Maryland for $42/less in license fees

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  3. Walt Franklin3/27/2013 4:42 PM

    I fished VA last year and reconfirmed my notions that most of the guys in the licensing department don't know their hind-ends from a hole in the ground when it comes to selling an out-of-state fishing license. Blame VA on the confusion it presents. I bought a 5-day license at Dick's for something like $30 or so, but it took a while to make them understand what I wanted. There's no way they can charge you 72 for a one-day. I'm heading to DC on Friday for a week of fishing in the Blue Ridge for brook trout. License from Orvis, hopefully, rather than looking for Dick's or K-Mart, which usually handles most of the business for licenses. Sorry VA gave you BS. At least Maryland was good for you.

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    1. You are absolutely correct. A gentleman at one of the fly fishing forums that I frequent was giving me some info on where to go in the park and when I told him about the license fees, he informed that I did not need that stamp. The guy on the phone though, and the VA website, both told me I should have it if any of the waters I will be fishing is a stocked stream.

      Well how the hell am I supposed to know what is or isn't a stocked stream? That is the confusing part so the safe bet is to buy that stamp.

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  4. I'm blown away by the story about DC fishing licenses. On the other hand the rest of the trip sounded pretty cool to me.

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    1. In then end, I am actually quite happy that I stayed closer to the hotel!

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  5. walt franklin3/27/2013 8:50 PM

    I think I figured out the license problem. VA has this weird set-up where you have to pay an extra $47 just to fish in waters stocked with trout. That's on top of the $27 non-res. license. So if you want to fish for stockers in VA expect to shell out your $70+. Crazy. I'll take fishing for wild brookies anytime. 5 days for $27 sounds a whole lot better!






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    1. I agree but how does an out of towner know what streams are and aren't stocked? Then don't forget about the park use fee either!

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  6. That looks like a great time. That license fee is really crazy. I think that non-resident fees are out of control pretty much everywhere. To bow and gun hunt costs me 320 dollars in Wisconsin and that is crazy. Virginia seems to be on the same page. Maybe they do not want fishing revenue. I stopped hunting in Wisconsin because of their fees, only so much a person can take. Glad you got out and caught a few though.

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    1. I have fished in quite a few states and VA is by far the worst! Once you start doing saltwater, it even gets worse.

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  7. I think Plan B was better fishing AND less money, good choice! That Golden is awesome... every great now and then I see one at the trout stockings we have in Ohio - still looking to hook up with one. Nice report and I cannot wait to get out fishing this weekend!

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    1. There was an estimated 16lb golden that took my fly there. The fight was over pretty quickly as the 2wt gave up yard after yard of backing. Eventually I just popped the line. It was fun for the 30 seconds it lasted though!

      One of the DNR volunteers was watching standing next to me when I hooked into it and watched the fish swim the other direction at will. After I popped the line, he told me that it was the biggest golden that they had stocked in there. I guess the guy or gal who has the right tackle will get a free fly when they land him.

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    2. A 16 pound Golden would have been worth going out and buying a complete new rig to catch it! I think I would have camped the spot for weeks.

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    3. You know, if I didn't have to work the next day, I probably would have! LOL

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  8. Great read, Nick! I cannot believe the out of state prices for a fishing license...WOW!!! That is some serious ridiculousness!! Now I know never to plan a fishing trip there. Haha. Sounds like a great trip none the less, and you didn't even have to travel far from where you were staying. Bonus!

    Golden Rainbow Trout - New to me. I would have guessed it was an albino.

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    1. So the confusing part...and partly why I decided to initially call it albino, is because if you google "golden trout" you will see that is a completely different species.

      As a result of this, I assumed albino would be the correct term but in fact, they are golden rainbow trout.

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  9. This trip exemplifies why one should never give up on experimenting, because sooner or later you will hit on the right combo; interesting fact about the retrieve, which had to be to the trout’s liking? I guess that explains why your buddy is landing trout right next to you and are landing nothing sometimes. Great post really enjoyed the read!!

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    1. You are correct, Bill. My buddy had a hard time with rapid 1 inch strips that were fast enough to keep the fish interested. As soon as you broke cadence, the fish darted the other direction. As a result, I ended up with more fish this day than he.

      Fly color didn't matter...it was all about the retrieve.

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  10. Man that looks like such a refreshing trip! I don't think life gets too much better than that!

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  11. Nice haul there! I was just debating trying out the Gorman park area after work but you've got me thinking it's not worth my time. Were you at the stocked Little Patuxent area near Savage park?

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    1. Thank you! They may have moved up to Gorman by now. My biggest problem with Gorman is the lack of any real structure, pools, etc...it's all relatively flat and sandy.

      I parked at the old mill and hiked upstream. There are more structure and pools there and I have always had the best luck there

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