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.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tropical Storm Lee & Flooding on Reston's Lake Audubon

A few weeks back we had a tropical storm pass over us. Lee dumped about 8" of rain in Reston in just a few hours. Most people were at work and didn't have time to prepare for the torrent of rain that arrived in the late afternoon.

There were parked cars at the park and ride on Sunset Hills that were submerged. Sink holes formed on Glade Drive.





And a LOT of water ended up in the lakes. Lake Throreau emptied into Lake Audubon under South Lakes Drive.

Water came in from Snakeden Branch. This section is normally flat and placid. There is no discernable current. The edge of the lake is where the boats are moored.



The last major flood on the lake that I can remember was during the summer of 1995. The water poured otu of th edrain and into the woods down stream. I was out there as a counselor for Reston Day Camp. My campers were finding fish and crayfish in the woods a hundred yards from the creek. The river had blown out that much. There was trash and leaf debris above my head in the trees. You may remember a bridge on 29 was washed out in Madison County, Va. I can't find the video, but there is one out there on the internets of the water rushing out of Audubon's drain.

As no one knew the water was going to rise, no one had time to loosen the ropes from docks to boats. As the boats rose in elevation with the rising water, they pulled the docks with them. I was here in Annandale during the flood. I was keeping up with the storm on my home waters via the Reston Patch. I finally got out there this past weekend to survey some of the damage. Not much was going on around the boat ram. There was plenty of debris caught up in the drain grate. Some debris littered the shore from the high water mark.

Some of the docks had leaf litter and other vegetative debris on the top and sides.
Here is a pile of stuff that washed down the creek.

 This log washed in. This is the backyard where the above video was shot. Look how far back the hosues are from the edge of the water.

 This floating dock actually floated up and above the dock it was tied to. Later that day an entire family came out to push it off and back into the lake. Quite a productive spot.
 There was a lot of stumps in the water too. The turtles didn't mind. I don't think I have ever seen more turtles on the lake than last Sunday.
 The results of a floating boat pulling a dock out of the ground. The home owners will have to wait until the next lake draining to fix their docks.


I wasn't sure how the fishing would be after all the rain damage. Obviously the fish didn't mind:














Thursday, September 15, 2011

Introduction To Fly Fishing Waders



Below are talking points from my most recent podcast, series 1 episode 26, an introduction to waders.

If you listen in Itunes, please give me a rating, click here for a link directly to itunes


  1. Two types
  2. History
  3. Protection
  4. Features
  5. Purchasing
  6. Extra info

Membranes:
  1. Permeable- material that allows molecules to pass through it
  2. Non-permeamble or Impermeable - material that DOES NOT allow molecules to pass through it

Two types
  1. Breathable - permeable, allows water vapor to pass through. More expensive.
  2. Neoprene – stretchable synthetic rubber. Less expensive. Impermeable

2. History
  • Stonewall Jackson and the invention of waders- vulcanized rubber
  • Rubber
  • Neoprene
  • Breathable
3. Protection
  • Water – temperature, pollution
  • Cold water and weather
  • Snow
  • Ice
  • Wind
  • Plants – thorns, chemicals, nettles
4. Features – what makes one wader different from the other. Including price.


  • Belts
  • Boot foot
  • Durability
  • Fart smell
  • Foot bootie molding/shape
  • Gravel guards
  • Shoe lace latch on gravel guard
  • Pockets inside and outside
  • Puncture-ability
  • Stitching – seams welding process proprietary by orvis
  • Stocking foot
  • Straps –how and where they attach
5. Purchasing:
  • Bells and whistles
  • How often will you wear them
  • Boot foot vs. stocking
  • Felt vs. rubber
  • Rubber studded
  • Felt studded
  • Boa laces vs. rope (freeze)
  • Size up for winter
  • Shoe size
  • Body size
  • Tall vs. short
  • Big boobs, wide hips

6. Extra Information:
  • Falling in and filling up – does not make you sink. Belt will help keep water out
  • How to dry – open up. Put newspaper in boots
  • Storage – not in sunlight. UV light will degrade.
  • Maintenance –rolled up. Scrub to keep membrane clean
  • Patching holes detected by flashlight, alcohol, or soapy water
  • Aquaseal vs uv patch
  • Layering underneath

Brands:
  • Orvis
  • Cabelas
  • Dan Bailey's
  • Reddington
  • Patagonia
  • Simms
  • Hodgeman

Monday, September 12, 2011

Chickens and Snakeheads - What Would Kenny Powers Do?


Of Chickens and Snakeheads:

Met up with @ScottStankus last night at the Duck Pond. If you are not familiar with the 'duck pond' you may know it by the official name of 'Roaches Run Waterfowl Sanctuary.' It is a tidal pond on the western side of the George Washington Memorial Parkway. One side of the pond has railroad tracks, one side has Crystal City, and the western side has the GW Parkway and a parking lot where people wait as a 'cell phone waiting area' for the airport. There really isn't much there. Thus it was rather strange for the following to have happen:  I was unpacking my gear and watched an animal control van pull into the lot. The driver pulled up to where a bunch of the hired drivers were standing around pigeons. I walked down the sidewalk to get a look at the guy who I thought was going to catch pigeons. On closer inspection they were CHICKENS.




I ran back to my car to get my camera and video camera to get this on film. What a story to share with everyone. A new species of food for the Trent Jones Cat Survivability at Gravelly Point dissertation. Not only could Peanut the cat eat the chickens, we could too. Or at least get some nice feathers for them for Dan to braid into his beard.



The driver got out with a net. No one seemed to know where the birds had come from. They were congregated around a trash can. I asked if I could help and the animal guy looked at me and shrugged. I ran to my car to get my net. Hilarity followed as families waiting for people at the airport started to get out of their cars to watch us chase chickens across the lot and along the woods adjacent to the pond. I never realized how thick the brush was in there. Poison ivy, thorns, burdock, honeysuckle, etc. Scott pulled up and I called his name. He didn't hear me from the airplane overhead. He probably didn't hear the cab drivers and kids shouting down the sidewalk at him too!

Scott came down and quickly went to his car to get a net. The three of us chased the birds along the parking lot and woods. Some birds took to the trees. I did my best Bear Grylls impersonation and was throwing sticks at them to flush them out or stun them. We flushed birds toward another and vice versa. They did not want to be caught. At one point I had a bird pinned to the grass under my net but it got out. Some of the observers were mad at us, telling us to leave the birds alone. I think the issue was one of them ran across the GW parkway earlier and was hit. The cabbies didn't want them to cause an accident. The animal control guy gave up after about 20 minutes. There won't be any fresh roast chicken at Ri Ra tonight. We gave up with him and went out on the water.

There were several large fish that were spooked in the Duck Pond and some big fish swimming around in the flooded spatterdock. They parted the plants as they moved around. None of them would take a fly.













 
 


This is what I'm talking about with Bear Grylls and a stick: 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

White Elephant Party | Christmas In September & a New Fly Fishing Tool

One of our good friends "Mango" is deploying for the Air Force in a few days. Luckily he is going to Peru and not a war zone. He and his awesome wife Shante threw a Christmas party for him last night as he will be out of the country during Christmas. I really wanted to wear my snowmen sweater but it went to storage a few weeks ago when the man cave was cleaned out for the baby's room. I was left with my Ralphie "Oh-Fudge" shirt from A Christmas Story.

As THW was preggers last winter, she was unable to enjoy the festive holiday beers. So I picked up a few six packs of Anchor Christmas Ale and put them in the closet for her for after baby lady arrived. Well the baby arrived and THW started to drink again. However, a holiday ale just does not taste good in the summer. Thus that was item no. 1 in our white elephant bag. I went to the dollar store and got some more items:
  • canned vienna sausages
  • canned ham
  • garbage pail kids cards
  • whoopee cushion
  • jingle bells
Thus the bag was already heavy from the weight of the beer and it made noise from a bag of jingle bells being dumped inside of it. It was a crowd pleaser. It was dubbed 'hurricane survival kit." Last year I put a bottle of Corona I found in the gutter and a 4 gallon can of nacho cheese in the gift bag.

THW picked number 8 out of 20 and got a redneck wine glass and a bottle of Boones Strawberry Hill (Score!). Some of the other things people got were a foot scrubber, a pink marabou flamingo, beer kit, ice shot glass kit, pillows, a stuffed elephant, dollar bill paper airplane kit, etc. 





Mango picked and got a Tool Bandit. This is the magnetic arm band from As Seen On TV. Its a band with a magnet that you can put a hammer, nails, screws, bolts, or screwdriver on and thus have them within grasp. why didn't Billy Mays sell the dye used for his beard and hair? That stuff could have made a lot of money. Look at how perfectly blended that stuff is. Its like someone painted it on.







I got to thinking. What would I do with that. Then it came to me. Fly fishing. I could take that to the stream and put flies on it. I could use it when tying flies, keep scissors and bodkins on it. Bobbins and hair stackers. Extra hooks and even flies I've just tied. What about when I'm rowing my boat? I could put things on there like nippers and forceps. Brilliant. I had to have it.






I'll let you know how it works out. Maybe I'll bring it to the TPFR.org beer tie tomorrow night and put it to work.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Fly Profiles - The Foam (Japanese) Beetle

First off, why do fly fishermen spend so much time using Latin names for mayfly, caddisfly, stonefly, and true flies but not for ants, beetles, grasshoppers, and other terrestrials (insects that spend their entire life on dry land and inadvertently end up in the water)? Just a thought.

Beetles are big and clunky. They are poor fliers and often end up in the water. Thanks to someone who introduced them to North America, the Japanese ones are now a favorite of summer trout. They are full of protein and fish will not pass up the chance to eat one.

 Ok,  on to the blog post. I had never fished a foam beetle or a terrestrial until I got a job at Orvis in Tysons Corner Virginia. There was this perfectly round, little, and grey foam beetle sold in the shop. It was found hidden away in the terrestrial drawer. Six prickly legs stuck out from the fly that looked like a swollen tick. The store had about a dozen or so of the flies and they were never re-orderd once sold out.

During the winter of 2000 I met a fly tier named Bill Skilton at the Maryland Fly Fishing Show. He was a celebrity tier and he had a bunch of these beetle s on display. I watched him tie the simple fly. He stated he made the foam and leg material. I watched in awe as he took just a few scraps of material and crafted such an impressionistic looking fly. I spent a long time talking to Bill and watching him. If you have read past posts you know how much a fan I remain of Bills work. Here is one of his stretchy foam beetles:

I spent the summer of 2000 fishing the Yellow Breeches in Pennsylvania. I was single and had my weekends to myself and gas was cheap enough to drive several hours to fish. I would drive my car up there and fish an entire Saturday or Sunday. I fished the shorelines and along structure with the flies I got from Bill and the flies I started to tie myself to look like his. I had great success.I was able to purchase a lot of his materials at the Yellow Breeches shop.

Over the next year or so  Bill came down to the shop to tie on Orvis Days. I wanted to get Bill's custom materials sold int he shop but it never happened. I started to figure out my own method of replicating Bill's pattern. I came up with my own foam (available on my site) and use saltwater krystal flash for legs. These ones look more like Bills elongated beetles vs the round tick one. I've never been able to get mine to look like his. He uses a specific Daiichi hook and his own foam too, thats why. Its a trade secret.

Anyway, Tom and I had a phenomenal time using foam beetles on Mossy Creek in July of 2001. We fished the hell out of the stream. We got there at dusk the night before and go to the stream just after sunrise the next morning. I threw Skilton inspired flies up against the bank, along fallen trees, and out in the open. We caught brown trout after brown trout. We even had the idea to take a bunch of Japanese beetles from the sycamore trees, shake them up, and toss them in. We listened as the naturals floated down and into the tree canopy section above the foot bridge. Sip, Sip, Sip. The fish were eating them like crazy. We chummed up a trout along a cut bank and threw in a foam beetle behind it and caught a trout. It was phenomenal. Epic.

It would be nice to be able to get out to Mossy and the 'Breeches more often. But that doesn't happen as often as I'd like. I do get out to Colorado every so often. In 2005 I spent the summer in Breckenridge. I had some of my foam with me and tied a bunch of beetles for the guys in the shop. They shrugged them off. Their loss. I started to fish the different stretches of the South Platte River from Tomahawk to Hartsel, 69 Ranch, the "Dream Stream", and Elevenmile.





The beetle produced a lot of fish. Nothing huge but still fish on the end of my line. Here is my version of his beetle:

I have been having a lot of trouble finding the saltwater krystal flash to use for the legs (remember from the podcasts, beetles tuck their legs behind them when they land in the water). I had purchased a whole bunch of different colors at World Wide Sportsman in Islamorada Florida when THW and I were down there for Tom's wedding in 2009. With my luck the store put the tying material in a brown paper bag. THW though the bag in the back seat was lunch leftovers and threw them out! So I have a current stock of 2 packs to last me till I get down there next.



I can't praise Bill enough for introducing me to this pattern. It floats high, is easy to see, doesn't sink (like a deer hair beetle) and is easy to tie. If you are looking for an easy beetle pattern to use give me a shout and I can send you some. Be sure to mention the blog post and I'll give you a dozen for the price of 6.







Here are some pics from that trip to Mossy:


 
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