Sunday, September 23rd – I was a trout angler again after ten long months. I missed the 2012 Spring hatch action and by the time I made it out on the water the trout season was over. Virginia and Maryland host a few limestone spring creeks that can sustain trout through the year, and the closest is 80 miles away in Maryland, so that’s where I headed.
I was up by 5 am, too exited to sleep. I puttered around my workshop second guessing what gear to bring, “Should I bring my 5 weight or short 4 weight rod? Maybe I should use my Tenkara rod. Which flies? Nymphs…maybe some terrestrials. I’ll bring some small wooly buggers too. Hip or chest waders? Maybe I can get by with just my Muck boots.”
Unable to decide, I loaded everything into the car. Well, not everything. In my rush to make one more cup of coffee for the road, I managed to forget packing the spare cloths laying neatly folded on my bed. An hour and a half later I was walking into the Beaver Creek Fly Shop to get the gouge on the hot flies and any tips for hooking fish. Owner James Harris was out on the creek with clients, but his father was super helpful. Brownish Size 16 cressbugs or scuds were producing on a 9ft 6x leader. I grabbed a new leader and a half dozen of the nymphs. Five minutes later I pulled into the parking lot on Beaver Creek Church Road, donned hip waders and rigged up a foam/elk hair stimulater with a nymph dropper.
I’d fished there once, four winters ago. The leaves were down then and there was a dusting of snow on the ground – a different creek it seemed. I remembered there being less vegetation along the creek as well; the path is gone now and thorny brush has taken over. The farmers have also put up electric fences and posted signs to keep away, leaving little access from the creek bank. It was a real pain in the ass moving through the brush with a 9 ft rod, but tough access also means less pressure on the fish, and sure enough, there were 4 or 5 pools teaming with wild and holdover trout. This is a small stream 6 to 15 feet across and choked with brush along much of it, so much so that roll casting from the bank can be a bitch; I was forced to wade in the stream to get a cast out. A 9 ft 5 wt is too big for this stream in my opinion. I considered fetching my Tenkara rod from my car, but the idea of navigating back through the brush discouraged me – I’d make the 5 wt work. I managed to land one 8-inch brown trout in this section and then spent – more like wasted – the next hour working my way down stream looking for more good holes. I saw none and the bushwacking was becoming pretty pointless. I high tailed it back to the farm houses where I knew there were fish, this time I waded upstreamed fishing the holes again from below, with more of a strategy, better casts and…
“HOLY CRAP! THAT WATER IS COLD! WHY IS IT RUNNING DOWN MY LEGS?”, I thought.
“Oh yeah, you’re wearing hip waders, dumbass,” I mumbled to myself.
One quart of water weights two pounds. So, now I was wearing 2-pound ankle weights in the form of frigid water sloshing around in my boots, soaking my socks.
“OK,” I thought, “I’ll deal with it until I’m back at the car and can change into dry socks and drain the waders”
This was not the first time. I often forget my waders are crotch-high and not chest-high. I put them away for a year, opting again for chest waders. Then I take them out a year later and dunk my junk again – a vicious cycle of poor judgement and stupidity. I had the idea of laying on my back with my legs up (insert sorority joke here)…you know, to drain the waders . And with icy water now running up my back and soaking my shirt I reconsidered the logic of assuming this yoga-like position. It sort of worked though.
The trout were rejecting my fly, so I switched out a few times, changing the colors, sizes and the patterns. At one point, 20 or so brown trout hovered near me just a few feet away, some 12 inches, but most in the 5-8 inch range. They didn’t seem to know I was there, or didn’t care. They were eating bugs, just not mine. They were not falling for my poorly strategized game of clever deception. I’m OK with that though because hunting wild trout on a limestone creek should be challenging after all. I enjoyed several more decent hits, but failed to hook up – no complaints.
I did manage to locate another parking lot and wide open access trail on the southern end of the fly fishing section. In fact, I ran into two other anglers, one a Maryland Department of Natural Resources biologist who manages this water. They were a wealth of great information about the stream entomology and fish population. The lower section is much more accessible and I will try that the next time.
I’d missed trout fishing and it was great to be out again. Beaver Creek scratched my itch to wet a line in a classic limestone creek. Next time I won’t forget the dry socks though. If you fish this location please visit Beaver Creek Fly Shop.
A road trip to Mossy Creek in Virginia could be in my immediate future.