Sunday, February 27, 2011

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:


Great fishing! You made me so excited for the upcoming weekends so I can go fishing with my family. Can't wait that moment to happen. =)

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