Skip to main content

A Trout Stream of My Own

Late evening haze, the warm glow of sun on the surface riffles of the North Fork finds me casting a hare's ear soft hackle, mending the drift downstream, trying to keep from hanging up in the tangled arms of a half-submerged yellow poplar tree that fell sometime in the squall of late winter, strong icy winds blowing across the lower mountains, at the foot of the Blue Ridge escarpment.

There are not very many trout here, in fact, I don't know if the state DNR even stock this stream anymore like they once did. What fish I do catch here are usually good ones, though, and put up one hell of a fight to match the struggle an angler must endure to locate and catch one of these wild, holdover fish. 

This stream is moody. At times, she is as calm and lazy as a summer day, water slow as a glass of fine wine. Other times, she becomes a handful, rough and dangerous, full of pent-up rage, making it difficult for even the most skilled of waders to stand in her powerful current. The waters of the North Fork are cold and deep, sometimes glacial when you're standing waist deep, trying to keep a foothold and at the same time fish the runs around bank edges, the green pools, and under the thick, overhanging brush on the stream's edges.

The North Fork is not a wide river, casts must be short, but have to be calculated, executed with precision. An angler will lose many flies to the low-hanging trees, the rhododendron, and deadfalls all along her banks. The prospect of catching a fat rainbow or brown trout keeps me going, helps me press on through the rapids cutting between massive rocks, and deep sand in the bends around thick brush.

Any local angler reading this knows exactly where I am talking about when I mention the North Fork. Many fly fishers will turn their nose up when they realize what trout stream I'm talking about. I gladly fish that stretch often for two reasons: 1) It's close to home, and 2) not many people fish it, opting for stretches of river that holds more fish, and is easy to navigate. 

I don't care if no other angler would want to fish there, in fact, I am happy the North Fork doesn't get any love from most fly anglers.

Slightly altering the name is not my attempt to try and disguise the location from other anglers, but to keep from mentioning it to what I call the "general recreationalist," non-anglers that crowd the ground around any trickle of water they can find when the weather turns warm. Those better-known stretches of trout water not only attracts fly anglers, but also picnickers, large families looking for a "natural" area to have a barbeque, and probably some folks who use the water as a trash dump, or a place to do their laundry.

All I am saying is, find your own place, and try to make it yours. Sometimes, especially in these parts, you will have to share the waters with other anglers, maybe a Sunday tourist or two. Be willing to fish places that other anglers wouldn't be caught dead fishing. Find a place so far off the beaten path that no sane person would ever try to find. And once you find one of those places, keep your mouth shut.


Popular posts from this blog

Book Review: The Promise: A Fly Angler's Long Journey Home By Paul A. Cañada

My favorite stories are the ones that give the author depth and serve as a window of insight into a writer's mind. Within the first few pages, it is important for me to develop a connection with the author, less I will quickly lose interest. I don't mean to sound like some type of literary elitist by any stretch– it's just me being honest.  Reading the first chapter in Paul Cañada's new book, The Promise , I felt that connection immediately. Paul tells of his childhood growing up in a military family, having a father in the Air Force, and the moves and re-adjustments that had to be made each time his father received new orders to relocate. I did not grow up in a military family, nor did my family move from place to place, but the relationship between Paul and his dad gripped me from the beginning. For me, this laid the groundwork for what was to come.  As his bio states, Paul Cañada is an award-winning writer and photographer with bylines in dozens of magazi

Love Letter

I wake this morning, to find your scent still lingering on my skin. With sleep in my eyes, I try to shake the heady buzz from the hours of being entwined with you the day before. I feel your residual energy flowing all around me. I step into the shower just to feel the rivulets of water wash over my body. You are all I can think about this morning, and I know that I will not find peace until I return to your side. I am completely, utterly, and desperately obsessed with you. When I look upon you, I am captivated. I am enamored by your beauty, by your natural sensuous movements. I follow every curve, trace all of your soft edges with my eyes, immerse myself in the rise and fall of your breath. You whisper mysteries known only to the deepest parts of my consciousness, and the narrative you speak to my heart is as old as the earth. I have watched you suffer mistreatment at the hands of so many before. You have been taken advantage of, used and abused, stripped of your purity. I

Hunting the Hard Way

Early morning sun catches my eye as it peeks over the horizon. It seems I am at odds with the world this morning. Already a crow has found my hideout in the tree branches, and pointed me out to his comrades as a spy for the human kind among the oaks. Only minutes later, the squirrel that emerged from the ball of dried leaves in a high fork betrays my location with a series of shrill barks, and I’m sure that every deer within twelve miles knows of my plan and will steer clear of this patch of woods from now until two hours after sunset this evening.  Once the alarm calls fade, all is quiet again, too quiet. It is always coldest after daylight, and I sit shivering, without so much as a wren or finch scratching around in the leaves, or hopping from branch to branch to entertain me. For two hours I sit with nothing but thoughts of a warm bed to occupy my time. Forlorn and desperate for some sort of action, I lower my bow to the ground and climb down from the tree. I need to do