Wow, this is my first morning home since last Wednesday. I have spent sunrise to sunset out on the water for the past five days. My feet hurt and my car smells. Lets go in chronological order.
Thursday started off with a father and daughter in Reston who were having a day full of casting and blasting. We worked on casting along the shore. They caught fish and more. I caught a dragonfly.
Now comes the part about catching 'more'. Let this serve as a reminder to de-barb your hooks. Kristine was a good sport about it and wanted a picture of her new Monroe piercing. The hook slid right out and did not even leave any damage. I may have spotted a tear on her face. If I am correct, she shed a tear of joy for the toughness she showed. I share with you this picture now.
And now we watch Ben Stiller take a hook to the face. Fast forward to 1:40
Thursday afternoon was spent at Gravelly casting in the grass. Preparations for a trip to Montana. Two clients out in the wind. One had prior experience but needed some improvement. He was single hauling in no time. The other client was roll casting and overhand casting 30' with ease and in the wind. I think they will do fine out west.
Friday started off driving THW to work. I did not have clients for several hours so I scoped out a new location. I parked in the shaded lot at Scotts Run. The air was chilly and I was actually cold. I took out my 4wt with a foam bug and walked down the trail. There were obvious signs of a recent flood. Detritus clung to branches shoulder high. Plants along the trail were bent, facing the downstream direction of the water. Litter outlined the high-water mark. The stream was gin clear and low. I kept walking with no idea where I was going or what I would find. The trail went up a hill and I could see a clearing at the bottom of the hill below me. I walked down and found the river. I'll talk about the river next but first the funny.
I heard the sound of a waterfall and inspected. The stream enters the Potomac via waterfall. There was a dude (the only way I can describe him) standing in the plunge pool in front of the falls. He had on pants and a button down shirt. The shirt was open to show his chest. He was posing in the early morning light. A young lady was taking his picture. There was a whole dry cleaning rack of clothes hanging on a nearby tree. I only had my phone so I took these while hiding and laughing.
The river was low and clear. I found a log jutting out
and walked it like a balance beam. I cast and had a few nibbles. It was warm out in the sun. A big old catfish came swimming up. I only had one fly and it was a dry. This fish was on the bottom. I was comfortable observing the fish. The log was huge so think of the size of that black fish to the left of the tree.
I decided to head to Riverbend to check on water levels and conditions there.
I got to Riverbend Park a little after 0900. I was all warmed up from my long walk to and from the river. I got out of the car and walked along the trail. I am not sure what was going on in my mind but I started to jog. The jog turned into a full on Forrest Gump style run. I was actually running. Through sand, over logs, up stairs, along the river. All the while looking at the river. I went up a huge hill and my lungs burned as if it were full of fire. I came down the hill to an algae covered pond.
You know how a smell can trigger a memory? Well I had a view that triggered a memory. I had not been to that pond in 25+ years. I was near the nature center where my pre-school, kindergarten, and Reston Day Camp used to visit. I always get flash backs of being in the back of the day camp van when I drive down the winding roads to the park. This was different. I remember being here when I was really little. Back when my mom packed my lunch with a Welches grape juice can with the silver sticker opener. I only got purple grape juice when I went on a field trip. Purple is for clean kids, white grape juice if for messy kids like me. On field trips it was a special treat to get the purple. We used to eat our lunch down by this pond.
I caught my breath and kept on going. I went up the river which now looked like the trail we used to hike from Seneca in highschool. I checked my watch and had been running for about 15+ minutes. I turned back and bumped into a lady with a fly rod. Her name was Barb and we talked for about 10 minutes. She was playing hooky (sp?) from work. Turns out she is a member of TPFR. We parted and I ran the entire way back. Sure I stopped a few times to catch my breath but I actually ran a few miles. I felt good. I worked off the dinner from the night before. I did this in flip flops !
Gatorade and shade for a while as a welcome respite. I met my next set of clients in the lot. Steve, his daughter, and her friend. We discussed paw paw fruit while walking to the beach. I had spotted the fruit on the ground during my Scotts Run walk and on my run. Turns out they grew some of the trees and knew all about them. I cut one open and it tasted like a creamy banana custard. We talked about ripening, growing, tree location, etc.
Before we knew it we were at the beach. We got out and fished hard. The river was several feet lower than it was last week. We wet waded where we swam the week before. Fish were far and few between and it was a lot of work to find them. We had several bites while working on casting and having a splashing good time. We landed one smallie.
I had to take off and get to Fletchers for my next set of clients. We walked from Fletchers up to Chain Bridge. Not bad for a woman who is 7.5 months pregnant. The tide was out and the river was very low. We had loads of bites from fish but none hooked. To continue my day of foraging, I found these strange fruits growing. I knew by the shape of vines, leaves, and flowers that they were in the squash family. I was rock hoping and decided to keep my 'Seasonal' fly box in my pocket so I didn't have to back and forth to my bag.
Sunlight was fading and I decided we should walk and fish our way back to the parking lot. We fished the canal and got lots of bites and landed one small sunfish. It was just about dark when we got to our cars. Traffic in Georgetown was awful and I was late getting home. I was so tired I don't even remember what was for dinner. I unloaded my wet gear and went to bed.
Saturday. I got up early to discover I had lost my fly box. I could go back to look but I had a full day of clients. First clients were at 0800. The Potomac was low and cool. We had a few bites but didn't land any fish. The sun rose and the day warmed up and the water with it. Two hours passed quickly and we were on our way back to the parking lot.
I met my next client who had never been fly fishing. She is a D.C. transplant from the south. We went over as much as I could with out trying to overwhelm her. Meredith had done a lot of research and was familiar with a lot of my vernacular. She was eager to learn and was not just focusing on catching fish. She wanted the whole fly fishing experience.
We spent 3 hours casting, talking, flipping rocks, observing, and having a good time. I sure did miss my fly box by now.
The river was full of anglers. Not including my clients, I counted at least 10 other fly rodders out there. One of them was George.
My next set of clients were two high-school aged guys. One had on a Spain World Cup shirt so I knew this was going to go well. One had fly fishing experience, the other none. The other one caught a sunfish on his first cast and had 3-4 bites right after. The three of us wet waded up to our armpits around an island, sight cast to fish, told high school stories, and had a good time. I hope they were not freaked out by my tales of being a high school teacher. No huge fish caught, just some strong sunfish.
The morning and afternoon came and went. It was time to head downstream to Fletchers for my last set of clients. We met at low to slack tide and walked upstream. We fished the beaches not occupied by others. Slipping and sliding on the mud, we cast with goals of not hooking plants on shore. This is not easy. We were at low tide and on the shore, thus we had a wall and ledge behind us with fly eating weeds. Back casting was kind of a bust so I took out the switch rod. One itsy bitsy sunfish was hooked and the hook set launched the fish into the plants behind. I listened to the sound of dry grass moving to locate the fish. We returned the fish to the water and headed upstream to some rocks.
With more room to rollcast, the line was now going out 30, 40, maybe 50 feet. The water was now slack and with no rain in over a week, mostly not there. I did not realize how hot it was today as I had been wet wading. I quickly became dehydrated enough that the Potomac looked like a thirst quenching trickle. We had a few bites but nothing was landed at the new location. Two hours were over and I was pleased that the clients had fun. I drove to the Chain Bridge parking lot and ran up and down the canal and to the river to look for my fly box. No luck. I returned home to get my shave on and display my mustache for Mango's mustache party.
Sunday was early wake up for me. I was out of the house by 0620. I met the clients at Fletchers at 0700. A father and two sons. We walked out to some rocks and worked on casting. Dad worked the shore with a spinning rod. I'm going to take him out another time. The kids were laughing and having a good time. We talked of snakeheads and River Monsters on tv. The tide was coming in and we had to gradually step back to stay dry. The youngest put a hook through his ear and laughed it off. The de-barbed hook slid right out. With my help in casting and setting the hook we landed a tiny sunfish. As the tide came in and shut off our fishing spot we turned to skipping stones. Yawn, I was exhausted with 6 hours of sleep. I had to now get to Riverbend.
I drove up river to Riverbend and found out I had a few free hours after a cancellation. I replenished my foam bugs. My vise clamped to a picnic table by the river in the shade, what better place to tie flies? I returned to my car and got a little sleep. I slept in a folding chair next to my car with feet propped up on the car bumper. I could not hear it but I know those that walked by laughed at my nap jerks.
My next group of clients showed up and we got out in the river and fished hard for 2 hours. Several sunfish were caught and one smallie was lost.
I had some fun with the underwater function of my camera. These look like black nosed dace.
Here is a nice sized crayfish.
My next client and I worked for 2 hours on casting technique. We wet waded to a single spot and focused on timing and agility. Pick up the line, keep the rod in a straight line, speed up, stop, then bring the line down on the water. The difference in casting some people can make in a few hours is amazing. Line slashing in the air soon became a gentle gliding motion and line laying down on the water with little disturbance. I hope to get Mike out again in the future on the canoe or boat.
Ok, times, up, I have to get to Reston. Montana and her boyfriend were waiting in the parking lot. He had his rod strung up. My first goal was to get out of the wet boots. My feet had been in wet socks since 0650, gross. Flips on, we were ready to fish. As we string up our rods I notice a familiar face in the parking lot. George again. He is taking out some clients too. I was wondering why a guy in the parking lot asked me 'are you the Orvis guy?" I said "not sure, I used to work at Orvis and have lots of their gear."
Anyway, we are now casting foam bugs with damsel droppers. Montana gets a nice bass on the dropper. It was along the pickerel weed. Sure it is pretty but its like hooking celery when you hook it. It is taking over the shoreline and is very fibrous. Anyway, she outfished her bf. I wanted him to catch a fish so we walked across the street to the tailwater. That place is a sure thing for landing fish. First off, someone took a poop down there The place smelled retched. There were no fish. It was as if someone came in there with a cast net and took all the fish. It was empty. We hiked back to the lake and worked the shore. I was getting dehydrated again now that I was out of the water. I downed a liter of water in no time.
We walked the shore and spotted Jimmy from Orvis Tysons three others with fly rods. Crazy. I had not seen that many people fly fishing on the lake since the lake was built. Several fish were attacking the flies but most were small and could not take the hook. The two hours were spent telling stories, laughing, talking about the best bars in Clarendon, slow poured Guinness, and Groupons.
I was exhausted and was looking forward to getting home, cracking a cold beer, sitting on the hill with dr jones, and going to sleep. THW greeted me with slow cooked chicken and tater tots. Todd came over with Gus. Gus tired out dr jones and I was tired watching the pups play. I had a few more beers and went to sleep. No alarm was set. My feet were happy to be relieved of their duty.
Yesterday morning was spent mostly in traffic. Of course Canal Rd. would be shut down right at Fletchers Cove when I am teaching people how to fly fish at Fletchers Cove. I sat in traffic for almost an hour just to move from Glebe Rd. across the Chain Bridge, and into D.C. Luckily the clients were stuck too and we got to the river at the same time. I had a brief talk with Paula. If you don't know who Paula is, you are missing out.
The clients drove in from Charm City where they were staying for the night. Their hotel was on the western end so I suggested they eat at Woodberry Kitchen. If they were staying down town I would have insisted they eat at Mezze. We walked up the trail to some exposed rocks and worked on roll casting out. Snakeheads were busting the surface all across the river. The tide was going out so the rocks were soon exposed. We had several bites and only landed one sunfish. Bob was having a blast using the 10' rod and roll casting with two hands. He quickly lost interest in catching fish and was going crazy just getting the line out. I don't think I have seen someone so excited to cast. We had 3 blackhawks fly over (helicopter), ospreys, herons, cormorants, and other birds. Two hours quickly passed and I had to get out to Reston.
I met my parent's neighbor Tom at the boat ramp. Luckily the dredging was not in progress and had moved to the small cove of the lake. We took off in the canoe and having only been out fly fishing once before, Tom was throwing 10 feet of line effortlessly. I showed him how to time his back cast to allow the line to straighten behind him prior to throwing the line forward and presenting to the fish. I told him he would have at least 50 fish bite his fly, loose 30 of them and probably land the other 20. He had a sunfish on within his first dozen casts.
Tom is entering 7th grade next week. He went to the same elementary school as me and is going to the same middle school. He is growing up on the same street as me, has the same creek in his backyard as I did, and has the same lake to fly fish on across the street. Just a bit of things in common. I decided to take a picture of every fish he landed. Here you go:
Not a bad lot of fish in 120 minutes. Fish threw the hook left and right and he lost a HUGE bass right at the side of the canoe. This thing was massive. I had the fish at my fingertips when it threw the hook. He Tom hooked another large bass right behind a pontoon boat. The boat had its motor in the water and the fish wrapped the line around the prop and threw the hook. I was happy to show Tom parts of the lake from the canoe that he normally does not get to see from the public access shoreline and docks. I hope to have him out in the canoe again and to bump into him while he is fishing and check on his progress.
One of the fish was dubbed the 'hunchback' as it had this strange shape. Almost like a mini drum.
6pm found two new clients. Rob had a kayak (nice tarpon 120!) and I put his friend in my canoe. We paddled around the lake doing the same 2-hour circuit that Tom and I had fished. We had dozens of bites, fish throwing hooks, fish missing hooks by biting the fly tail and legs. Fish were brought to the canoe with an old Orvis 4wt Superfine. One of them was another HUGE bass. The rod was too soft to fight the rod which was bent in half. I thought the rod was going to break. We switched back to the 8wt after that.
For two guys who had never fly fished, they could have fooled me. They through out line, striped it in, set the hook, and fought and landed fish for 2.25 straight hours. It was dark by the time we got back to the boat ramp.
I am not suprised Tom learned to make nets for himself.
"I was in the market for a new net but couldn't find one exactly like I wanted. So..... I decided to build one or three. Hear are pics of the first two."
And then he got a chance to use them.
"I just got back form spinney. Got blown of the lake this am with 20 knot winds and 5 foot swells. It was like trying to fish in the serf while in a float tube. Brutal. I went down to the dream after for the rest of the day. Took a lot of cuts in the 14-16 range and one monster brown. All on hoppers. Take a look. Talk to you later. "