South River 12/31/11
Air temp 61 degrees F
Water temp 48 degrees F
Slight wind, partly cloudy
Flows slightly higher than average, clear
Today the weather was absolutely gorgeous. What better way to celebrate this early winter gift then to hit the river. I decided to wet a line in the special regs section of the South River outside of Waynesboro, VA. I parked near the Oak lane parking lot. I met two generations of Richmond fly fisherman in the parking lot. They had been fishing since 8am. They said their only success was during a small blue wing olive hatch around 9am farther upstream. They had not caught any fish since then. We traded stories about smallmouth and shad fishing in the various Rivers in this great commonwealth. I always enjoy the instant camaraderie that usually ensues when two fly fishermen run into each other on the stream. This was my first time fishing this stretch and not knowing what to expect I brought my 9′ 5 weight Sage graphite rod for distance casts and mending, and my new Hank Woolson 7’6″ 6 weight bamboo rod.
I moved more quickly upstream then I usually would since I was somewhat pressed for time. I didn’t see many fish as I moved, and saw even less insect activity. I tried a variety of tactics. A dry dropper, (with a bead head nymph that may have been too large) and a dead drifted and stripped Wooly Bugger in the current seams that should have held winter fish. As is usually the case, I may have been missing fish by not getting the fly right in front of their sluggish face.
I brought some extra fishing “accessories” to help during the fishless hours.
As the sun began to go down over the western mountain ridge, I contemplated packing it in. I have to admit I was slightly frustrated with my skunked outing, despite my insistence that fly fishing isn’t all about catching fish.
I have been reading a lot lately about swinging soft hackle and traditional wet flies. I was holding a gorgeous bamboo rod in one hand, and a pipe in the other. This current seam seemed perfect.
I had to add a little weight to get the partridge and red size 16 down in the right zone, but my fifth swing resulted in this hook up.
It sure isn’t the biggest fish in the river, but it’s my first fish caught “on the swing.” It also appears to be a healthy stream bred wild brown trout.
After releasing this winter treat, the cell phone rang with a specific ring reserved for only one woman in my phonebook and i knew further swings would have to wait for another day.
This will be the last fishing post of 2011! Hope 2012 is filled with as many memories and great learning experiences as 2011.