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

Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 Fly Fishing Year In Review

If one picture could be used to sum up the entire year, it would be this:

Thank you all for reading this in the past year. I sit here in Columbus, Ohio with a pint of Guinness on my in laws desk. We just had a sleet storm roll through. I spent the past day out on the Chagrin River swinging flies for steehead, my first Ohio fly fishing trip. I hope to go back out tomorrow. By the time you finish reading this text, all the images should be loaded.

I'm going to tell the year of 2011 in fly fishing through the pictures I have taken. Some may be new to you if this is your first foray over here, if not, hope you enjoy them again. It was a great year. I spent over 300 days guiding, became a dad, taught hundreds how to fly fish, caught several new species on the fly rod, and we'll start fresh in a few days.

Remember that over 90% of my clients this year had never picked up a fly rod before meeting me at the water. They caught some huge fish, some medium sized fish, and some ridiculously small fish. 

January was cold. We spent that time on Four Mile Run in Arlington Virginia. The carp, shad, bass, crappie, and bluegill hang out there in the winter due to the warm water discharge from the sewage plant. I consider Arlington County's number 2 as my number 1 business.



Hanging out under the bridges to escape the brutal wind
Crappie caught under Rte 1
Largemouth on the fly in the middle of winter

The end of January brought me to the Fly Fishing Show in Sommerset, NJ. I volunteered my time to help out Project Healing Waters raise some money

The "Purple Heart" fly
This show is great due to the amount of  fly tying material you can pick up
I grabbed A LOT of material from this vendor. I tie a lot of flies as we loose and destroy a lot of flies. I'd say we lost well over 300 damsel nymphs this year.
Look at all those capes. Before the hair extension fad
I met Dave Whitlock
Cold winter nights were spent building up the fly inventory for the year. Starting with shad flies. Trent and Dalton came over to tie one night. Plenty of booze was on hand.

And shenanigans
Frank and I fished one bitterly cold day. I think it was his birthday. He caught this stinky gizzard shad at Four Mile
We then went up on the old overpass to check out the carp, goldfish, and catfish below
Frank waded in
Stocked rainbows on Holmes Run during a 45mph wind
Some macro scud pictures
Back to Four Mile. This was foul hooked. Look at the size of this fish
Valentines weekend at Holmes. We fish chartreuse buggers here as the stream is so dark in winter. You can't see any other color fly
Back to Four Mile. Look at the density of winter carp. Can't wait to get out there next week
For real, this is what happens when the main stem of the Potomac is cold and there is warm water in Four Mile. Look at the koi on the top right. Bright orange
And Holmes again. Its now mid February

Tiny bluegill were all we managed on this warm day. By early March the surface action started to heat up
The koi just would not take any flies
I dammed up this section of Holmes Run one day. I made the stream deeper and more favorable to the trout. Little did I know we would get 5" of rain the next few days and it would all be washed away.
Up to Philadelphia for more volunteer work at the Fly Fishing Show. This is my old friend Bill Skilton
His hellgrammites are inspiration for mine. It took me years of looking to find the right material. Which I found a few weeks later


We had plenty of beer back at the hotel that night
Tom Baltz is a guide and great tier. He is out of Pa.
Check out the guy on the floor watching Bob Clouser
I got back to Holmes after the Pa trip to find the dam I made was blown out. We still fished the creek and found some trout.

No waders required here. Just walk on the posts



By mid March the frogs are out and spawning. This is an indication that we need to start focusing on shad

One more nice trout before we head back to Chain Bridge

We managed to get a close up of the frogs on the way back
St. Patricks day weekend brought us to the D.C. Fly Fishing Show. A generous donation to Project Healing Waters in the way of tying material
My first look at Tenkara rods. I really want one.


March 26 started the shad season on the tidal Potomac. Some winter stoneflies came out once the temps reached a balmy 50
The first stinky gizzard shad of the season
As soon as the shad arrive, the Tidal Basin lights up

Rob with a big gizzard shad. We were called snaggers by a guy down stream this day. He went on the message boards to bash us saying we were snagging fish left and right and photographing them. This was the only fish we photographed and it was hooked in the mouth. We are not snaggers


One of the last pics before a client's kid dropped this net in the river. I just replaced it on Xmas eve
The new net, me and Tom's salmon net. A father and son taking pics. Love it

Notice the hook in the mouth
The first of 6 full beers found this year
On a beautiful Friday we caught this smallie
These fish stink


April 7 was the best shad fishing day I have ever seen. I got in on the action as my client ended his day. We got a bite on every cast for at least an hour. Holt caught more shad on double rigged shad darts on his spinning rod. It was insane. Rain came the next day and ruined it
Dan and Trent at the Casting Call
A Potomac river sturgeon. We couldn't take the boats out that day as the river was flooding. Little did we know the next day (VA Fly Fishing Festival) we would get 6 more inches!!!
Me in the flooded tent. I was hoping to make more sales and book trips but when its cold and torrential raining, people don't come out

As the river rose to 15' we had to fish the creeks
First flesh hook of the season
The next day these clients were out there with their own rods and reels. They purchased a set after our trip
A few more stockies as the river levels were receding

This hole is now gone after tropical storm Lee and river bank construction. It was known for always producing a fish
Back to the river. Perch, shad, etc. This was the day after Easter. The day the snakeheads showed up

Herring
White perch

This snakehead was caught with a cast net
Holt holding a sand covered fish. It made enough slime that it washed the sand off itself. Gross
The fish then was clubbed. It took 7 hits to kill it
This fish was next. It fed 20 people at a BBQ hosted by Holt
First schoolie of the season. First week of May
Rebecca outfished everyone during the shad run. We later discussed how the pictures didn't do justice to the size of what she caught. We were caught up in a torrential downpour and had to leave


And then we got another flood. This is the river at 9'. We were fishing from the staircase down and fishing where we normally walk. We were in the trees. One big crappie was all we got. I called it after a few hours and after loosing a half dozen flies in the trees
Mid May. We start taking out the drift boat in Reston.
Dominic with the biggest bass of the year. This was taken on a 1" foam bug
Plenty of strong bluegill
This pregnant female bass swam through a six pack ring and was stuck. She kept growing until she could not open her gills enough. She was dead only an hour or so


Miles out on the boat after my clients

A break from rowing and a trip to Holmes for some bluegill. Trout don't survive this late into the season due to less Oxygen held in warm water
Yay the  river has dropped. I caught this snakehead with my net. It was just sitting in the shallows. I got really good at catching them. I was then informed by the US Park Police that it is illegal to harvest them without a rod and reel
Thus this dude with a home made spear is breaking the law


This day was full of schoolies
And perch

Home made spears
Back to the lake. Its hard to fish the river on weekends now with the crowds. So we hit the suburbs
This was actually a Friday morning. We fished for 3 hours and covered most of the lake
Two fish on two flies. Bass nun-chucks
Scott with a hog of a bluegill
I managed to sight cast to this bass in the shallows. I thought it was hot out. It was in the 70s




The river had dropped enough that this client was standing on dry land which was where we were casting flies a month ago

One of the smallest fish of the year
Her first time with a fly rod
And her sister. But wait, its bass nun-chucks

Monday morning after my wife's baby shower. This was the last day of double hook ups  for every client on the lake

I had some time off so I went to the Tidal Basin
I was fishing for carp when I hooked the biggest fish I've ever landed. A 34" snakehead

I took out Basil the next day. He landed somewhere around 5 carp in 2 hours
I was fishing with him. I landed a few of these. And lost 3 gar

A beautiful Saturday on the lake
Their dog was a recent family addition. She went on the boat with us and had to lick each fish
Double hook up, bluegill nun-chuck
Miles, Trent and I went exploring Belle Haven Marina. Miles wacked this fish on his spoon fly. It was 91 degrees out. We all were dying
Some big Potomac channel cats on the fly
Nick with a small bass. This kid doesn't catch small fish. He then got into needle fish. The one fish stinkier than a gizzard shad
No complaints with this striper
I had a break between clients and caught my biggest Potomac striper to date
A fun loving couple out on the boat. They were preparing for a 100 mile bike race.


It was in the 90s and we talked micro brews as we didn't have any beer to cool us down
Sunday May 29. We are fishing Lake Anne in Reston. I get the call from my wife to get to the hospital, its time! I went to work not expecting to be a dad until Thursday. What a surprise
Matt with a 'foam depot' trolled bass. The last of the big bass of the season. This is when the heat started. Love the beer can lanyard
More couples on the boat. We were supposed to go out again in October but we got a cold rain and snow event
2nd hook in the flesh of the year

The little one said to the big one 'there aren't any fish here' and then the older one hooked this beautiful smallie
And a son hooked his father in the neck (no. 3) before dad caught a nice smallie. By now the summer heat is starting up and its probably 96 out on the river

The son not only hooked his dad, but he hooked this spinning rod which still had a worm on its hook!
My first client hook up with my Snowhite Hellgrammite
He caught two two in one minute. A bluegill and then a tree
The ladies were the last clients of the day. They tore it up
Megan with a fun sized largemouth

A father and son double hook up
These guys pulled in a lot of bluegill
Even by the end of the year, I maintained my record that everyone on my boat in Reston has caught a fish since I started taking people out there in 8th grade

These clients were awesome. They wanted to learn to fly fish before they moved to Oahu with 'waterfront property on a bay with two ocean kayaks out back' Rough life. My military clients always have great stories about places they get stationed. I have an open invitation to fish that back yard if ever I get back out there


These sisters caught plenty of fish

A family from Utah (get me two-a Point Break reference of course)

The Snowhite Hellgrammite next to the real thing. I think this one I found inside my shirt after wet wading on July 4
My last dragonfly sunvisor
French clients


We continued to catch fish on the lake well into September and even November!

Now that I am a dad, I wanted to fish closer to home so I could be back and help out. We moved from Reston to Burke. The days on Burke were windy and temps hovering around 100
The Potomac on the weekends started to taper off when the water level got to 97 degrees. We were joking that one could pee in the water while wet wading too cool off. After the water got hot and the visibility never cleared up, I called it. We were done fishing the middle Potomac. Here are some last shots from the river


Some SLHS students.
A rainy evening in August. We met at Gravelly and got into stripers. My clients have lived in Patagonia, Pacific northwest, Scotland, and some tropical place. So jealous. She caught a couple nice schoolies


A weekend trip to Reston.

This client lives in my old neighborhood down the street on Glade



Roaches Run. The water was cooling off by mid August. This guy caught a yellow perch on his second cast

Gravelly on a weekend in early September. He caught his first fly rod fish. Some schoolies. While he was talking to me he had his fly dangling in the water. A perch ate it. He and his dad were in the 6'6" range and I felt very, very short


What a better birthday present for a 7 year old than to go fly fishing

Greg not only put a hook through his middle finger, but he caught this nice bass. It was the night before hurricaine Irene 



I finished with clients early and my wife dropped off the baby lady with my parents. We went out on the lake and drank some booze and caught some fish

Me and Scott first tried to catch some wild chickens living at Roaches Run. When that failed, we tried for some snakeheads
Summer was over and its mid September. My focus (you know this because you listened to my podcast on annual periodicity right?) was on striped bass. We got into some schoolies. Victor was out and used this method to photograph himself with his schoolie
I had time before meeting a client so I fished with some friends one night. Notice my net. Tom built that for me from scratch!
Scott with a mondo huge smallie at Gravelly. I was down stream with a client and we watched him fight this fish in at dead low tide. I ran to him to get the pics. Love the smell of his pipe
Crappie on the swing
A late September Reston trip. It was a surprise for his birthday



Everyone got into some nice fish this day on the lake

I took out the guys from GoFishn for snakeheads. We saw one snakehead in the shallows crashing bait. We got a nice catfish behind it

October. It was cold and rainy this day. We all wore waders to protect against the 25mph wind and 49 degrees. The fish were biting though
She dropped the fish before we could photograph it. It was that big....

I took a trip up to New York for some salmon and steelhead. My 3rd Saturday off since Valentines
Salmon spawning. Note the dorsal fin sticking out. The color on the water is the reflection from the leaves
Love this picture


Back to work in late October. Taking the baby lady with me to work.
Mother and daughter on Holmes. The stream was completely changed after tropical storm Lee

These are out of order, they are middle Potomac pics from summer.




Burke lake, it was 101 degrees this day
Her first fish on a fly rod, on a dry fly!
This is way out of order. This is Scott with a nice schoolie at Chain Bridge
July 4th.
Just realized why these are out of order. They were taken with the point and shoot




This was the client I was with when Scott caught that smallie at Gravelly. She site casted this fish, first fish on a fly rod
Fishing with David at night at Gravelly. Probably the best night we ever had out there size wise.


By late November the sun was setting around 5pm. We were casting into the sunset


Lowest tide I have seen at Gravelly. Last set of clients there with waders for the year

We found this huge crayfish
Off to California. Baby lady enjoying some In-N-Out
We caught a stingray, corbina, and halibut
Back to winter fishing. Our focus until the shad arrive is carp and bass on Four Mile
Grass carp
Black Friday bass in Reston
Yellow perch

Four Mile bass taken on a bead head nymph
Crappie on bead head nymph


Bluegill on dry flies in December

His first cast ever fishing!
More grass carp
Los Angeles pictures


And thats it.


 
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