Washed By The Water

Posted: September 11, 2013 in Beaver Creek

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God Brings Change.
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It is the single greatest constant in life. Waters move and move everything. Rocks buried deep are turned. Trees rooted even deeper are thrown. Trout run, duck and hide, but some are swept away to resurface as shiny decaying medallions in a farmer’s field.

And so, not the greatest, flood poured through the valley in July. But, five inches of rain in 24 hours is nothing to shrug off.

Today is the anniversary of 911 and the attack on Benghazi. I’m writing this post from a privelaged distance. Weeks past from the flood and months removed from those tragic days, here I am, safe and dry on my couch. Alive.

I wasn’t here for the flood. I was hours away—a world away. I stood sweating on the shores of a NOVA lake teaching a friend to fly fish while the heavens fell on my valley. Not all new water is worth fishing, but stagnant water and crowded trails aside, teaching a friend to fish is always worth it. Those opportunities are far and few between.

The day floated by. That night I returned to the valley, to the stories but having not seen God’s handy work, I was eager to visit a familiar spring creek that I’d grown very accustom to.

What would change bring?

With the creek back in its remaining banks, Jeremy and I walked up to the familiar bend of Jerry’s property to find the water still very high, rolling and very stained. The picnic table was gone. It was sitting about three football fields down stream in a tree—but completely intact.

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Water had risen above the banks clear up to the gravel road in the background.

Many of the fences that stretched across the creek were now gone. But, it had opened up some holes that were too hard to get into before the torrent. Fortunately, the walking bridge was still there. The banks hadn’t faired well having been turned inside out and flipped over on itself. We were standing on the edge of field that was completely underwater four days ago.

Fishing would be hard but it was awe inspiring to see the immense power, if even a small bit, that had run through.

I had left the streamer rod at home and had the typical dry flies, tiny nymphs and some buggers. Top water action wasn’t going to work so I threw the largest size 6 buggers I had. The water was moving so fast it was hard to keep them down. Were there any fish there anyway? With no strikes I switched tactics.

I decided to drift the buggers like nymphs with no luck. Then I recalled a tip I read. I bobbed the tails of the buggers and drifted them with indicators—bingo! There were still some trout in there! Amazing.

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A butchered bugger dead drifted like a huge nymph pulls a few out.

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A nice 20″er remains in the stained high water.

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Further up a small but beautiful wild rainbow falls for a nymph.

The parting glance

Funny how humans call the change left in the wake of a flood “damage”. We build our homes on false confidence. We live as if we’re rooted in bedrock and life is powerless, left to rushes around us. We make our plans with assurances that we’re in control. We take the subway. We take the elevator up the tower. And God just smiles. Maybe even laughs a little.

Recently my mother was diagnosed with stage four non-smoker lung cancer. It’s terminal. Did I feel helplessly lost and caught in a flood of emotion and confusion? Most definitely. But sitting here now, recounting the ‘damage’ I saw in that creek, I realize now, it’s just change. God brings it in His wisdom and in His way.

Benghazi.
New York.
My mother will pass.
Just like I will.
Just like you will.

We’re all just moving through trying to make our own way. You can choose to see damage and destruction or you can simply see it as wonderful, amazing, awe inspiring change. Good will come from all of it.

It’s His way.

C.L.

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Persistence.

Posted: July 25, 2013 in Beaver Creek

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To date I’ve been mostly a streamer fly fisherman (thank you Joseph D Bates). Looking over my fishing records the kreelex and olive krystal bugger have been most productive. While I’ve had opportunity to try dry fishing, I’ve shied away from it for a few reasons. For one I’m told it takes a lot of skill to cast a dry fly delicately and getting it to drift drag free takes more than luck. These things may all be true.

I’ve cast a few dry flies and landed a few fish, mostly smaller 10-13″ trout and the occasional 17″ (which bent the delicate dry fly hook). I would not call myself a dry fly aficionado.

As luck would have it, my nephew who was visiting us from Ohio and is just starting his fly fishing brought me two books. One was timely—a concise excerpt of Frederic Halford’s seminal Dry Fly Fishing in Theory and Practice (1889).

Saturday offered a rare occasion—10-15 trout rising less than 10′ away below a 5′ bank. The drift in this section of Beaver Creek is so gradual and the well worn position on the bank is at a point where you can almost dap a cast down. You still need to be stealthy not to throw a shadow and scare them off.

The morning hours were less productive in the usual sections. A couple of gents from North Carolina were up fishing one of my favorite spots. I headed for the high bank and had very little luck with some attractor patterns. I even crossed to the opposite bank and tried the usually product down stream cast with a krystal bugger. I returned to the bank and tried a japanese pattern beetle. I got some curious rises but no strikes.

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Right fly. Right method.

I waded through chest high grass and weeds down stream. Nymphing got some strikes and some fall fish to boot. A PMX actually hooked one but again lost it near the big willow. At one hole upstream where I believe an actual brown lies I got a chaser and even a hook on him. It was an unlikely fly to use. A bright sunny day usually doesn’t call for streamers and this one was a large sculpin pattern of rabbit hair. Cast into the pools head, allowed to sink on a 15 count and stripping it through hooked the trout.

Eventually I’d ran into the one the Carolinians who showed me his rig—bingo. Right fly…wrong method. With that I headed home for lunch and returned a couple of hours later. On return I found the creek empty. The new rig landed two beauties from the usual spot.

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One-eyed Jim falls to the sub-surface beetle rig.

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Another beetle eater. This one out of a section that I thought too shallow to hold trout.

Would this rig work on the wary trout below the bank? Nope.

It was nearing dusk and after trying to race the sculpin pattern through the run, I returned to dries. I must have tried 10 different patterns. Eventually I started noticing rises so switched to a light pattern which actually got their attention. They rose and inspected and turned.

In and out of the swarm of trout rising I kept seeing this large beautiful golden rainbow. He looked like a shiny penny. I tried an ant pattern and actually hit the general on the nose sending him away. I checked my fly boxes and realized I left my dry fly box in the car which was less than 100 yards away.

Should I leave these rising trout and risk missing them to go get more flies or keep going with what I had? I had read that trout will ‘forget’ patterns after some time.

I stayed and kept getting the only fly I had left that I thought would work—a size 14 caddis. Most of them would not move very far to inspect the fly. The ones that did were smaller. The big trout seemed to want it landing and drifting right in front of them. All the trout had inspected it and only a few actually sipped it. I lost two.

Then the shiny penny turned up, gave it a look and turned away. Then all of a sudden it turns back and sipped. I felt like lightning struck my arm as it thrashed around. I pulled off some slack to give him some room to run and tire out. I wasn’t going to let him fight me with his full strength.

I dropped my bag which had my net attached to it to get more reach on the tether as I slid down to the water. There was no way I could net him from up there with short arms and 37″ long net. As I worked to keep him on the hook one of the land owner’s dogs came out barking his dissatisfaction to my presence. It was man eating dog above and unknown depth of water below, but I wasn’t letting this one go.

Eventually he tired enough to let me net him. I scrambled up the bank to scare off the dog (thankfully it left) and to photography my prize. It was well worth it.

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Persistence pays off. A full 21″ and 11″ girth.

The parting glance

Taking a chance is always a good thing and failure is only a temporary step on the way to success. Fly fishing has taught me that trying and trying and trying with or without the right gear always pays off—it takes the right attitude.

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Generations five and four.

Many have chosen (or not) to be blessed with (or without) children. My blessings are many but alas do not include rug rats. Although at times, we do find ourselves happily surrounded by nephews and nieces ranging from diapers to diplomas.

In truth, what I love about being an uncle, besides the ability to “teach them bad words, and then send them home,” is the opportunity to open up doors.

Corey is the youngest of my oldest brother’s sons. While on a visit a few summers back I brought a few fly rods to their mid-west country home and hooked him. Fast forward two years and I’m taking him on his first fly fishing trip at a favorite spring creek.

My younger brother, Bob, surprised us by coming along.

Summer fishing at Susie Q has been a little difficult. I’m not much of a dry fly angler so that may account for the lack of trout I’m landing. Nevertheless, a nymph should do it or the fabled olive krystal bugger?

Relatively cool summer mornings offer the best fishing if not the best temperatures to wade through chest high dew licked grasses and shrubs. Ever careful of a brush with poison oak, ivy or sumac I was covered up and over heating despite the cooler morning air. I’d positioned brother and nephew in the best spots with the most productive of my flies today. The strikes and fish were few but the memories overflowed.

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Corey works a favorite pool under the sycamores.

Between instructions, casts, missed strikes and the occasional hookup, we found time to get to know one another and many of the happy accidents that occur if you fish enough. I was running low on olive krystal buggers, both the result of outfitting three anglers, two of which are new to fly fishing and one (me) still taking risks with his casts. One such cast landed up in a tree. Thankfully, I was able to yank the whole twig down. Gratefully, the twig came down adorned with gifts—my bugger, an extra and a nymph.

Sweet manna from heaven.

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Christmas in June. Gifts of free flies. Although I suspect I had put them in the tree at some earlier time.

We worked all of the favorite holes together, Corey hooking up with one but lost it and hook. Still, it was a gift to see his excitement and joy. Bob, more a spin fisherman worked his nymphs to no avail.

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Bob working the Bush Hole with nymphs.

Alas we did not get skunked. I landed three on the bugger through the day.

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One from the Boogie Tree hole.

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A slim 15″ bow.

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Haven’t thought of a name for this hole yet, but it’s proving productive on all trips.

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Sweet release.

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As evening falls, Corey works the Parking Lot hole careful to not snag the abundant mustard seed behind him.

The parting glance

Experience flows downstream as it must, to family or friend. If it passes not, it stagnates and eventually dries up. I hope that we each take the time, make the time to pass more than objects on. What objects we do have, be it gun, pen, rod or reel we imbue them with memories that carry on long after rust and ruin set it.

I’m grateful for my friends and family.

I’m grateful that I may live on in their memories.

C.L.

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“Cry. Forgive. Learn. Move on.
Let your tears water the seeds of your future happiness.”
—Steve Maraboli

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I’d gotten a call from my good friend, Jeremy with news that his tenure at Rosetta Stone was ending. He has a certain intuition that serves him well. While he had read this coming for days which may have bolstered him against the initial blow, I wondered how he was faring.

When you’re called to be there for a friend you go with whatever tackle and rod you have at hand, wisdom in your heart and hope for the best.

Compared to hurt feelings, huge possibilities and looming fears, you might think that fly fishing should take a back seat. I say different. Wetting a line and whetting your soul are often the same for anglers. And when the thing you called a job or career lets you down, the only thing to do is rise.

I’m finding summer fishing at this particular spring creek difficult. The lunkers lay low and the juveniles are jittery, tucked in the shadows waiting for someone else’s cast. My casts were catching the explosion of plant life above and around the banks. Did I mention I’m getting over a chance run in with poison sumac, ivy, AND oak?

I decided to talk less and listen more (thanks for that advice Wendy). We don’t talk much when we fish together anyway, but the circumstances made the silence ominous. Mostly, I did my part to yield the best spots, holes and first casts to Jeremy and to make him feel valued. I wanted him very much to land many fish. I wanted my friend to be happy.

“Hope for the best, plan for the worst,” isn’t that the way it goes?

It’d been months since he’d fish the farm. He said, “it’s changed.” We fished the best we could. Between us each landing but a few.

There were lots of snags.
There was a rod breaking.
There was the silence.

“I’d rather break a man’s [rod] than break his heart,” I heard my mind say.

Then there was one walking off collecting his thoughts, the other collecting discarded bags and scattered tackle. He handled it like only a few people I know would. There aren’t many that would take losing your job and breaking your rod all in the same day so well. It definitely takes a special kind of person.

Eventually, waters part and come back together.

Thoughts collected.
A borrowed rod in hand.
Another chance.
A fresh flow.
Another pass.
Another go.

The parting glance

What I learned from Jeremy’s example is that his commitment to his faith and family by far outshine his commitment to work. In this era of fast-paced-fast-living-sacrifice-all-for-work kind of world, that must sound bad. But I tell you it’s right.

And so, more than ever, I am reminded of the importance of committing to what matters. My faith, family, friends and (dang it) fishing. In comparison to employment, those things cannot be taken from me. They are honest and true in their nature. They pretend not to be something they are not. Work is work.

And yet, I still hope that I work for a company that values people over profits.

I can hope for the best, but plan for the…well, you get the picture.

C.L.

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Me and dad. He doesn’t fish (yet).

Water - Susie Q Farm (Private)

Date – June 2013
Partners – solo
Productive flies - Olive krystal bugger
Water – high but falling, clearing from stained
Weather – sunny, 50-83

Anyone returning back from a business trip to the DC Metro area could use a break from sensory overload—a solo day catching trout is the perfect antithesis.

Mother Nature had dropped several inches of the good stuff three days prior to my trip so I was very interested to see what damage she left in her wake.  Would her little finned children be in their normal holds or not?

I got a slow start at 6am and, true to form, hit the parking lot hole. I was shocked that I only got one strike and landed zero from a spot that regularly gives up 10-15 trout. Could the next hole be as bad? I shifted my attention to the overgrowth of plants and grass. Overly cautious of snakes given my last outting, I slowly made my way to the sycamore hole methodically beating the grass before me with my net ahead of my steps.

On the way I decided to fish a section that I’d only stopped to look at before. The sun was directly across the creek so I had trouble seeing a beautiful trout that usually sits in 2ft of water about 3ft from the bank. You can literally walk up to it and watch it sway in the current. It never paid attention to me or my flies.

Just downstream an overhanging bush and tree invited a few casts. I’d never fished it. What did I have to lose.

The three trout I pulled out with downstream casts of a krystal olive woolly bugger, were definitely a welcomed surprise.

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Not the largest of the three, which was 16″, this 13″ was the prettiest.

I made a point to return to this section again on the way out and with the same cast and fly hooked two but only landed one 12″. The larger one was easily 18″ but it threw the hook. At least I know where he’ll be next time.

I did get to see the large beautiful trout coasting off the bank paying me no attention, until I slipped on the bank and fell in scaring it off.  Note to self, just because there is grass doesn’t mean there’s land under it.

The sycamore tree only offered up two trout and only on the second visit on the way out. The morning attempt left my net empty. Fishing this hole usually nets 4-5 trout.

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Releasing a 10″er from the sycamore hole.

Surely the waterfall hole would be fishing well (as usual) and I’d land at least one trout out of it.

Land? Yes. Trout? No.

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You know it’s summer when the bluegills are biting.

The bush hole was a bust too. No nymphs or buggers moved the trout that I thought were there. Were they? Had they been displaced? Or were they lying below my layer of reasoning?

My questions lead me to what I call Boogie Tree. Memorial Day with my brother Boogie included fishing this spot that yielded the most trout for the trip. They weren’t big but they were plenty and I was looking to add a few more since it had been a few hours since the last one.

Again the fish weren’t holding together from what I could see. But a bit further up stream I hooked into the largest of the day so far. A hefty 18″er.

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Finally, a worthy fin and grin.

I nearly fell in trying to net this one. I recently invested in a 37″ net, looks like I may need to go guide-length. Gotta love having short arms.

Months back I had a small accident with a hook and thumb at a particular spot. I had since avoided it given the bad juju that I believe tends to hang around. But, after striking out at another ‘tried and true’ section I gave it a go. Would Mother Nature play nice this time?

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Yes! Another lunker (19″). Bad juju be gone!

I DID go in for this one. The olive krystal bugger pulled this one out of a shadow hole. Happy I was to feel the weight, not so happy to realize I was nearly 7′ above the water. I was unable to net him the typical way so I decided to work my hands up the rod and drag the line. Forgetting that fish way more out of the water and being dragged up a bank doesn’t help, I shouldn’t have been surprised that the 4x tippet snapped. Down he went (a foot) back into the water to belly up. Do I let him go or jump in?

Like any honest angler I slid down the dirt bank all the way into a 3ft of water praying the bottom was solid. It was, so I netted him quickly. Gave him some time to revive himself and hauled him back up the bank. Photo quickly done and back down we went trying not to de-slime him. I got him back in the water and revived him to both our satisfaction. And there he remains, ready for next time.

It was the highlight of the day and nothing could top it so I headed back to the car.

Fishing out usually brings a few more to the net. I skipped the usual holes as they were unproductive earlier and headed to the ‘new’ spots. I landed 2-3 more and packed it in.

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A feisty silver bullet beauty to end the day.

The parting glance

I don’t have children so my Father’s Day is full of well wishes to friends and family, telling my father I love him dearly and remembering all of the wisdoms he equipped me with. There are tons to recall. Maybe, one day I’ll write them all down. One lesson I especially remembered while fishing Susie Q Farm is that when Mother Nature throws you a curve ball (like dumping tons of rain and blowing out your favorite spring creek for a couple of days) in her wake you have to learn to adapt. Look at things different, take a different approach, adjust your cast and sometimes…jump (or slide) in.

Thanks dad. I love you.

6:16 Rainbow 16 Big Sipper hole
6:57 Rainbow 15 Big Sipper hole
7:07 Rainbow 11 Big Sipper hole
11:00 Rainbow 19 Boogie Tree
11:07 Rainbow 13 Boogie Tree
13:43 Rainbow 19 Thumb hook hole
14:28 Bluegill 6 Waterfall hole
15:01 Rainbow 10 Sycamore hole
15:05 Rainbow 15 Sycamore hole
15:22 Rainbow 12 Big Sipper hole

C.L.

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I’ve never fished out west. But sometimes Mossy Creek can fool me into thinking I might be there.

Water - Mossy Creek (Public)

Date – June 2013
Partners – solo
Productive flies - Kreelex, personal patterns
Water – clear, then stained/muddy, a little high
Weather – cloudy 60-65 degrees

It’s been nearly two months since I’d fished it. Dame Spring is slowly packing up and it’s starting to feel like summer although it seems nature is taking its time. If I recall correctly, this time last year there were already hoppers lining the bushes in the cool mornings waiting for the sun to warm them up in time to lunch with the browns. On this recent trip there were several dragon flies skittering about, but no trout looking up.

Two days of rain had raised and stained the water so I decided it a good opportunity to take out the 6wt and try some larger streamers. At the suggestion of Mike and Jeremy, I’d picked up a rabbit hair sculpin pattern in white, brown and olive. I’m learning that some (maybe all) flies have a particular way it’s meant to be fished. In this case, these meaty patterns are to be thoroughly wet and all the air squeezed out to get the fly to sink when it hits the water. Then, strip it back erratically and rapidly.

I also carried a few size 8 kreelex in standard colors. Kreelex can catch fish on a slow retrieve or on a swing but it’s said they do best when fished like the sculpin patterns.

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The goal is to get these flies close to cover (moss, weeds, banks) and rip it back. Mostly throwing them upstream with a quick downstream retrieve. Although, I’ve heard, but not had much success stripping them upstream.

Needless to say I was going to need practice and a little experimenting was in order with these and a couple of other patterns I’d come up with. I say this lightly since most flies lean on other patterns. I’d tied up a couple of size 4 cone head streamers with bodies of long crystal estaz and marabou tails and no hackle in black, rusty brown and olive green.

Basically a no hackle woolly bugger. The long marabou tail provides some action on the otherwise streamlined baitfish shape. I’d also tried an articulated fly comprised of a size 4 body/head and a size 6 tail. Both with bodies of black long crystal estaz. The tail was a combination of olive, brown and black marabou much like a thin mint. The head was a black fish skullz. I may have had a black plum of schlappen tied in as a collar. I can’t be sure because the fly now adorns a log in the creek.

Both of my patterns got trout moving. The bugger type flies got some juveniles moving to my surprise. I’m not certain that it is only juveniles that would move for the fly since a kreelex can pull both large and small trout. The olive green bugger type pattern moved no fish. Black and rusty brown seemed to be the best color for the day and conditions in that pattern.

It should not have surprised me that the kreelex pattern got the largest fish moving and netted me my only trout for the day.

At the outset, I’d bee-lined for a particular hole that I suspected would hold larger trout. From the looks of the parking lot at 2pm I was the only angler, but I didn’t waste time fishing water that would be too difficult to cast in to given the grass and trees in full cover. I was looking for deep holes with good moss beds and open banks to get my rod moving and avoid getting my casts hung up.

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This particular hole would do fine. It’s not long, maybe 30 ft and 15-20ft at its widest. It’s fed by 2 to 3 good moving currents which narrow and drop off a moss bed that makes sort of head of this ‘pool’. The run dog legs right leaving the deepest but slowest part bowing out to the right. I’m certain there’d also be some fall fish in there which the nymphs found later.

I was on the bank closest to the deepest slowest part and was casting to get my fly (kreelex) into the currents to have it dump it out into the deeper section. That was the theory. My first cast brought a nice maybe 13-14″ brown to the surface chasing but I could not hook up. After seeing him, I’d settled on spending a little time at this hole.

In conversations with the local fly shop staff I’ve been told the following:

  1. There are just as many big trout in the public section as the private section. The difference is the increased angler pressure.
  2. The key to fishing Mossy is knowing where the fish are.
  3. Use the appropriate fly appropriately.

Point 1, I didn’t believe at first, but after this trip, I’m a believer. Point 2 makes total sense but is easier said than done. I’ve probably fished half the length of Mossy Creek, always starting downstream at the iron bridge and fishing upstream. I’ve been told that walking downstream may startled the fish, and I should take note of where I see them and then fish those locations as you head back upstream. Rather than do that I figured I’d use the largest streamers I have delivered with a bad surface plopping cast to scare them out of their holdings. Even if I don’t get to land them I’d walk away with their location noted for next time. I doubt it will be the same fish there, but I will have at least validated that that particular spot is likely to hold a similar sized trout.

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I now know where good size trout (good size for me since the largest I’ve pulled out was 10-11″). Or where good size trout can find good cover and feeding lanes. There is at least two in this hole. The 13-14″ I’d missed a hook up on. While I was attempting to entice the first trout out of his keep, another flashed at the head of the pool from under the moss bed. I immediately cast my attention there and stripped the kreelex back. I got a quick glance at the trout as he fought against the hook, but given his weight and fight, I estimated him to be 16-17″. It would have been my biggest brown to date had it stayed on that hook.

Several casts, pattern changes and even nymph attempts didn’t bring sight or strike of either the rest of the day. Even after returning an hour or so later. In the time between I’d landed the only trout for the day on a kreelex that was barely stripped through a shallow pool. If I were to say it was skill and not laziness that hooked him, I’d be lying.

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One surprising and note worthy event became the turning point of the trip. I’d worked my way upstream to the culverts and decided to cast a few kreelex into the rapids. Fortunately, I had to take pause to relieve a fence of my back cast, or I’d have walked right into the snake. There he was sun bathing on the grassy jumbled concrete. Patiently we sat staring at one another wondering what the other would do next. I took a few steps back, zoomed in and took a picture. Mostly to get a better look at the pattern and head. This is the second snake I’ve seen at Mossy Creek, but this one was most definitely alive.

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My initial assumption, given its color, girth, length and size of the scales was that he/she was a copperhead or timber rattler. After the excitement receded, I rejected the latter since the environment wasn’t right for that kind of snake. The only other poisonous snake in Virginia is the cottonmouth but they haven’t been observed further west than east side of the Blue Ridge. Their range is typically in the Tidewater area. That left copper head as an option.

Commonly photographed in their rusty yellowish brown variety, most people will mistake an adult mostly brown/black faint patterned copperhead with the northern water snake. However there are some slight (ever so slight) differences to note. Since it’s hard to tell the age of snake by it’s length and girth, one can’t assume that a northern water snake is not an adult copperhead. Better to assume it is and step back. Because the only other ways to tell require close examination aside from the pattern. I would not want to get close enough to examine whether the pupil is vertical (copperhead) vs round or see the heat seeking pit under the nostril common on venomous pit vipers. And I definitely do not want to handle a live snake to get a look at whether the post anal plates are a single or double row.

From a distance (or from a safely zoomed camera) you can see that the pattern on the back and sides of my new found friend are the opposite of the copperhead. The former’s bands are not hourglass shaped. They are narrow on the back and wide on the sides vs the other way around.

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I was relived to learn this after I got home. I had my suspicions it might have been a water snake when I was standing before it. Given that we were both next to a creek and maybe even how it jumped, straight as an arrow, into the water after I tossed a rock near it. Poisonous snake or not, I was determined to fish out that culvert.

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It’s important to note that all snakes in Virginia can swim, even completely submerged. But the cottonmouth which loves water and is very buoyant swims with most of it’s body on the surface while other snakes swim with just a small part of their neck (neck?) and head above water.

After that chance meeting, the afternoon changed. I started seeing deep, wet, thick grasses less a home and more a hunting ground for other snakes. I decided to fish out the way I came, in shallower, safer vegetation.

On a side note, if you’re fishing in Virginia, you should frequent the following web site.  http://www.virginiaherpetologicalsociety.com Heck, I’d even save some of those photos on your phone.

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These scales, I like.

The parting glance

Sometimes it’s good that the fishing is slow. It leaves time to take in the scenery and the fauna in a way that you can’t when you’re laser focused on hooking trout. This day was a particularly eventful and educational trip. I didn’t rack up a huge count, one landed and one hooked and two chasers, but the education was well worth it. I learned some of my patterns work. I learned how to better fish some flies. And I learned that not all things appear to be what they are. But, most importantly, I learned to stop and look around. Beauty is there. Sometimes so close it might jump up and bite you.

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Water - Beaver Creek (Public)

Date – June 2013
Partners – Jeremy
Productive flies - Olive and Black crystal buggers, thin mint
Water – clear, then stained/muddy, a little high
Weather – cloudy 60-65 degrees

I’d never fished in real rain. Not rain that falls all day long. Tropical storm Andrea was hitting the east coast 3 hours to the east and was dropping rain on the valley for nearly two days. Jeremy and I started at 6am and so did the rain. I had gone with every intent of nymphing but it turned out streamers were working best. While there were a few rises in the rain, my dry fly fishing attempts weren’t drawing any strikes.

We hit the bridge holes and after a couple of nymph attempts I switched over to an olive green crystal bugger. It picked up a nice 13.5″ trout.

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A few casts later I landed a nicer size 17-18″ rainbow with the same bugger.

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The long one for the day.

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Same fish in the fin and grin.

Fishing was slow all day. By noon I was nearly soaked through and since the temps never climbed out of the mid sixties I was starting to get a chill. Lunching in the car was a welcomed break—sort of. Why is it that you don’t notice how wet you are until you get some place dry? With the windows fogging up and starting to sweat in the waders I was ready to get back into the rain.

Re-energized we headed back out and ran into Mike. Evidently Mike is sort of a resident of Mossy Creek (we were on Beaver Creek), where he literally sleeps in his truck for days. He has no permanent residence. His truck is it. He ties flies on his steering wheel and was fishing what turned out to be one of his own helgrammite patterns. I know this because last night I shared a few beers with Jess Ward from the fly shop. It was good seeing Mike. The man knows his fish and he seems eager to share.

Mike had had it with the rain and was not going to fish a section of the creek where Jeremy had landed his largest trout to date. It’s a good spot. One that regularly holds 20+ trout. I pulled one out of there last winter and was eager to give it a shot.

We fished from the far bank swinging buggers. I hooked into a piggy of a trout. It wasn’t long but it was heavy.

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The piggy for the day.

After this I moved up to try and land some trout I knew were sitting in shallower water under a tree. It was time to try one of my own tied thin mints. I worked, pulling out two juvenile rainbows.

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A younging. I love catching juvenile trout. They fight hard, revive fast and aren’t beat up.

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Another little one.

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This is where the fish was. It literally torpedoed right out of my hand. I took a photo to note that I caught one.

There is something serene and surreal about standing in water while it’s raining. I’m certain that I’ll never have the words to completely convey the feeling. The surface of the water was vibrating like a live wire. Jeremy had long left to pursue his white whale further downstream. He reminded me to take note of the water levels. All of a sudden I just didn’t feel safe. I wasn’t in any real danger but the water had risen to a point that some of the rocks I recall seeing when I entered weren’t visible any longer. The sky was falling, I was tired, cold, soaked and alone. I figured no fish was worth falling in for or getting stuck on this side of the creek.

I headed back to the bridge holes where I half-heartedly cast a few more times. And then it hit me. I wasn’t going to feel dry again—ever. I’m sure it was sweat underneath the jacket and waders but it was wet. That’s all I felt at the moment. Soggy. I  headed for the car. I’d had it.

The parting glance

Water. Everything on earth needs it. But too much of anything is a bad thing. I’d never fished in rain like that. I doubt that I ever will again if the water I’m fishing can be fished at another time. In the case of Beaver Creek, it may not be so easily accessible. The recent news is that the shop that registers anglers and hands out passes is closing. It’s not the end of the world, but it surely would be a shame to lose access to this private spring creek. Hopefully the local TU chapter will find a solution that continues to benefit the public.