Thank You For Reading My Blog

This blog is about my life as a fly fisherman, guide, and fly fishing instructor in and around Northern Virginia and Washington D.C.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Recent Images | Potomac Goldfish & Carp

I am still suprised when an 18" goldfish swims by me on the Potomac Tributaries. Here are some pics of them from the old Rte 1 Bridge in Alexandria. Urban fishery at its best. These were from last Wednesday. The weather was nice but the fishing was awful. We hit the outgoing tide and got maybe 3 bites in two hours. That's when fly fishing outings turn into fly casting outings. My clients were rewarded with being able to see the following fish up close after their lesson. This gave them proof that there were fish where we were throwing our lines.

And here are some of the carp they hang out with. These things are ginormous: 


Recent Images | Urban / Suburban Trout Fishing

We have been spending a lot of time on Holmes Run which is the local stocked trout stream. Holmes is a tailwater (water that is released from a dam). The dam forms Lake Barcroft. The water comes over the top of the dam and is thus the same temperature as the surface water. During the colder months this allows the stream to be stocked with trout. During the summer the water is too warm and warm water does not hold enough dissolved oxygen for trout. The trout that are stocked only have a few months to live. They are either poached out, eaten by something, or die of natural causes.

The stream bed is very dark in the first mile or so below the dam. The constant influx of water allows the algae to thrive. Thus we can't really see the stream bed or the fish that are swimming in there. There are plenty of bends and turns in the stream as it meanders through a valley on its way to the Potomac. Rhododendron trees line the cliffs over the deep holes. Some parts look to be more like a mountain stream than an urban fishery.

We usually start after the second crossing as most anglers focus on the first few holes and the fish get hammered with flies. I went in last week and did some stream modifications to one of my favorite holes. I built a V shape with rocks at the head of the pool to concentrate the water entering and to make more turbulence and oxygen. I built a dam out of sticks, branches, logs, rocks, and plant debris a the tail of the pool to seal it off and make it deeper.  Here is the tail of the pool after several days. The water has risen at least a foot in this image.

The first few days out with clients (per the last post) were tough. Lots of wind and very few fish action. Last Friday was the exception. We had a lot of rain the night before and predictions of wind in 40mph with gusts to 60mph expected. I met my clients at 0800 in the parking lot and we headed out in the rain.

The river was swollen and streams of runoff were coming down the hills and entering the water. With all this additional water the concrete posts to walk across were about an inch underwater. My clients didn't have waders so they hopped from one to the next without getting too wet. The water was surprisingly clear. We got to the next crossing and the posts were completely submerged. We took the trail up to the left and settled in.

Jeff had not cast a fly rod in several years and his soon to be father in law fly fishes a lot. I worked with Jeff upstream and got him back to the basics of roll and overhand casting. We even had a trout rise just in front of us. His soon to be father in law was quickly into his first trout. It was a small one but it took the big streamer.

Not long after he was into a bigger rainbow in the 12" plus size. This one also took the chartreuse streamer (bright so we can see it in the dark water). Jeff and I moved down stream to the tail of the pool where these fish were readily taking flies. He worked the streamer and then a nymph with a dropper. No luck. His casting doubled and then tripled in distance.

After an hour the water level started to drop and we were able to get closer to the gravel bar where most anglers cast. Jeff was catching a lot of rocks but no fish. Where he is standing in the image to the right is usually dry land and where I put down my gear bag to show clients the cress bugs and scuds that live in the creek.

On the other hand, his soon to be father in law hooked another small rainbow, this one on a holy grail fly.

And for the second time in a few days, my thingamabobber broke! The guys switched rods and Jeff worked the holy grail and I switched out the streamer for a flash back hares ear. And guess who caught his 4th trout of the day? One of the prettiest stockies I have seen in Northern Virginia in a long time. Check out that pink cheek and lateral line! All of those speckles! I can't remember if it was this one or one of the others but one of his fish took a huge leap and did some tail walking.

After 2 hours and 4 fish landed it was time to call it a day. We landed 4 and saw 2 risers. And with the next image of the big trout, I will show you how urban this fishery is. That is what Tiny Elvis would call a 'huge' building:

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Dozen Flies For Auction

Someone told me yesterday that I 'have made it to the big time' if I'm getting requests for donations. I'm not sure if I've made it to the 'big time' but I like the sound of it.  I have recently donated a few hours of guiding for an auction and today I tied a dozen flies for a local school auction.

In the list of flies are 2 popsicles (for color and to attract attention), 1 monster articulated bug, 1 medium foam bug, 2 foam beetles, 1 caddis dry, 1 bead head soft hackle pheasant tail, 1 mouse, 1 braided worm, 1 crayfish, 1 streamer, and 1 damsel nymph.

Its a filthy collection of flies that is sure to land some fish in the warmer months. I hope the winner enjoys them. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Some Recent Pictures

 Client Erik on local stream. Its amazing this is just a few miles from Washington D.C. He is used to fishing out west and found a stream he can work near his new home.
 The water was dark and it was windy, like super windy. We had to get out of there due to the branches falling. Some were close. He managed to have one big trout chase his fly that we didn't see till the fish showed the white of its mouth. Then he landed this one.

 This fish was foul hooked, goes to show what is in the Potomac tribs this time of year. TPFR member Victor weighted it at just under 6lbs.

 Look at that gullet!
 This carp was caught on corn and dough. It weighed just under 19lbs.

 Here are some more pics of the Potomac goldfish. That is a rather sparse group of them. When I left the river at dusk I could not see the river bottom. I kid you not it was completely covered with carp.
 Here are some cress bugs from my fishing trip with Erik. We were supposed to to fish 4 Mile Run but the 40mph winds would make it impossible. Thus we hit up the stocked stream. I have been sampling this water for 6 years and never found these guys.

 Scuds like this is what I normally find.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Carp Fishing With Frank

Luckily I only had an hours worth of office work to do when Frank called. He had the day off and wanted to go target some carp and invited me along. A sunny day with temps hovering below freezing. I was in.

We met at the Pier 1 Imports parking lot and assembled our gear. I brought out the 14' 9wt rod and Frank had a 9' 6wt. We tied on some flies and headed to the water. We climbed up to the old bridge and looked down. The water was still high as the tide was rolling out. Gizzard shad were breaking the surface left and right. We went down to the water and started casting. No complaints about the weather. Frank told me a story of a a guy who recently threw a glass beer bottle at him from above on a bridge. Some nice people around.

I foul hooked a gizzard shad and Frank landed one. The tide was rolling out and we could see the goldfish and shad in the now shallow water. If you ever hook a gizzard shad, DO NOT TOUCH IT. Those have to be the foulest smelling fish next to a needle fish. My glove brushed against the fish and I could get a wiff of the stink when the wind blew upstream. :barf  They also have creepy looking goat eyes.

We reeled in our lines and went back up to the bridge. We could see orange goldfish in the 12"-18" range swimming around and some big carp. We dissected the water below as being shallow flats on the left and deeper to the right and a deep channel in the middle where the fish were stacking up. Frank luckily had waders. He decided to be the guinea pig and go down to the stream and wade out onto the flat. His first attempt was a bit messy with deep water but he found a shallow spot to get 3/4 of the way out. His casts were directly over the stacked up fish.

Note the goldfish in the center of the ring of water

Big carp and some lens lint

The carp were at least 30" and looked as wide as a bucket. They were cruising up and down while the goldfish held in place. None of the fish appeared to be effected by wake from Frank wading in.

I spotted fish from above and gave their locations to Frank. The carp were moving up and down and mudding. Big clouds of mud and bubbles indicated their direction. There was a strange smell of popcorn and cheesesteaks in the air. I was hungry.

Frank threw nymphs and streamers to them. One fish came up and gobbled his strike indicator. Frank couldn't see the bikers and joggers behind him but they sure stopped to see WTF someone was doing standing in the middle of 4 Mile Run.

He worked those fish for a good 45 minutes before I had to pack up to avoid 395 traffic.
We are one step closer to learning how to catch the winter carp on a fly in this section.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Wow What A Day For Groupon Users

Its been a busy day for me with another Groupon offer. I have been answering e-mails and phone calls all day and getting back to those who have submitted their information via the online form on my site. Since I'm the only person on my end it is a lot of work. I've been looking at my fly rod holder on the wall of the living room and thinking these rods have no idea what they have in their near future.

I advise several Groupon users to visit my FAQ page where they can find answers to a lot of the e-mails and phone calls I have had today.

Another great resource for fly fishing questions is the archive on the Tidal Potomac Fly Rodders site as several of you will be fishing those waters. Head over to the forum and read some of the threads.

 You should fill out the form soon so we can book a date. I have HUNDREDS of people to take out in the next 8 months. 

Its going to be a great spring, an awesome summer, and a stellar fall. I'm looking forward to introducing hundreds of people to the fly fishing lifestyle (its not a sport) and helping hundreds more improve their current fishing skills.

Lets hope some generous companies want to jump on board and donate food and drinks to us so we don't have to spend the dog days of summer dehydrated. Wink wink food and beverage companies :)

Friday, February 4, 2011

New Snakehead Fly | The Candy Necklace

Kevin Arculeo had this type of pattern at the Somerset show last month. I was determined to figure out how to tie it and adapt it for fishing on the Potomac for snakeheads. Here is the first version. I will be sure to change it and update the pattern as I work out some kinks and perfect the process and fish it. The eyes were my first attempt at using Clear Cure Goo and it was a fun yet messy experience. The whole thing requires a lot of superglue too and I got some on my last decent  pair of Carharts :(

Keep your peepers peeled for more pics of flies as I get inspirations for spring.



Thursday, February 3, 2011

Beers and Fly Tying

Had a small get together last week with some friends in the industry. I had a cheese course (Prima Donna, Beemster truffle gouda, epoisses, and some other randoms) and made a roasted squash risotto. We dove into the beers early (Red Hook and Flying Dog and a bottle of Chianti) and started to tie.

The focus was mainly on getting the shad boxes stocked. I helped one newbie out by teaching several of my go to patterns from foam ants, beetles, bugs, pheasant tails, san juans, sucker meth, and more. We cranked out several dozen flies and had a good time. 

 Trent's Yosemite Sam shenanigans
 Brad's shad patterns
 Dalton's shad patterns

 I was laughing while he was tying this and it was funny at the time. I have no idea what was so funny now that I look at the image.
I'll start filling up my shad boxes in a week or so. The fish should be in the last week of March.

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