Monthly Archives: January 2011

12 posts

Finding Wild Trout Streams


Virginia Trout Streams
Where the Trout Are

Wild Trout Streams is a site that provides maps and geographical data (primarily KML files that you can download and use in Google Earth) showing wild trout streams throughout the east coast. This looks like a great resource.

I’ve been checking out the site for wild trout streams in Virginia, which has a lot of information including PDF and JPG format species maps, topo maps and data sets for a ton of places in the state. Shenandoah National Park is covered here, as well as stream flows and other data for the entire state.

This is definitely a good starting point if you’re keen on exploring streams off the beaten path. The main map on the Virginia page (shown in this post) shows bright green lines for known brook trout populations, courtesy of data from the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture, which you can also see using the EBTJV interactive map or on the Geospatial Data Search and Access page of the EBTJV website.

In addition to the green lines for brook trout streams, the map shows brownish lines for brown trout and pink lines for rainbows. There are separate KML files for brook, brown and rainbow trout streams in Virginia. Just looking at the map (click on it to see it larger) it is obvious that brook trout populations are concentrated on the Blue Ridge around Skyline Drive and The Blue Ridge Parkway, as well as on the western side of the Shenandoah Valley, along Great North Mountain and eastern West Virginia.

I see places I’ve always suspected brookies may inhabit and that seems to now merit some trips! Hopefully this data is recent and good enough to still be reasonably accurate. Brook trout fishing is right around the corner and I am going to track down a couple of these spots in addition to hitting the places I already know and love. I can’t wait.

Manhattan as a Paradise for Trout and Fly Fishing

Upriver and DownstreamFriends gave me this nifty book for Christmas, “Upriver and Downstream.” It’s a collection of essays published in the New York Times‘ Outdoors column over the years, from well known authors including Nick Lyons, Thomas McGuane, Ernest Schwiebert, Nick Karas and many others. Being the middle of winter, with our local streams iced up pretty well, it’s good substitute entertainment.

The book has several essays that talk about brook trout fishing. One in particular grabbed me last night, “Manhattan as a Paradise for Trout and Fly-Fishing,” by Nicholas Karas. Karas also happens to be the author of the book, “Brook Trout.” The title of his essay from 1998 is more than catchy, in 1998 or in the year 2011, or in any year within the last hundred. What he describes is incredible. You can get the same sense of how things once were throughout eastern North America by reading many old texts about fishing. I’ve highlighted one such old book that talks about brook trout fishing NEAR New York City before. But actually IN New York City?

Apparently Manhattan used to be a “sportsman’s paradise” and a destination for brook trout fishing. Yes. Manhattan. In the 1700’s, Freshwater Pond became a unique spot in what is now the Big City when the City Council restricted fishing there to the use of only “angle-rod, hook and line,” sort of like our modern single hook barbless artificial lure regulations in various pieces of streams. Freshwater Pond was located in the area between what are now Duane and Canal Streets. It was fed by Collect Pond (near Federal Plaza and The Tombs), and drained into the Hudson River. Sea-run brook trout (“salters”) were abundant here, too.

The English, who were avid fly fishers since Izaak Walton published “The Compleat Angler” over a century before they were defeated by the Colonists, popularized the sport on Manhattan. After the Revolutionary War, the area remained a hub for sportfishing for decades. Throughout the island there were streams filled with brook trout.

I just can’t even imagine that right now. Or ever. But then I came across The Alley Pond Environmental Center. For the past ten years they have been reintroducing brook trout into Alley Pond and Alley Creek, near the Long Island Expressway and the Cross Island Parkway (not Manhattan, but still New York, NY proper), with the help of Trout Unlimited.

View Larger Map

While Long Island is known for having good brook trout fishing (something I did not know until recently), the idea of brookies in New York City shocks me. That’s just really cool.

Winter Non-Fishing Report

Richmond Fishing Expo
Winter Time Means Fishing Shows

It’s the middle of winter. It may not be the official midpoint of the season, but we are smack in the middle of cold air, wind and frozen water around here. Just thinking about March gets me excited, but then it hits me: March is just another month of winter, with some nice days thrown in every few years to keep you hopeful.

The fly fishing shows are a nice distraction this time of year. In a little over a month, the Rapidan TU fishing show will be held, Feb. 26 2011 at the Fauqier High School in Warrenton, Virginia.

But since you’re curious about the fishing, the Virginia Outdoor Report sums up our fishing nicely:

  • Beaverdam Reservoir: Eddie Hester reports that not many anglers have braved the cold weather; so he has nothing to tell us. The water is in the 40s and clear.
  • Virginia Beach: Captain Jim says that things are “as cold as I’ve ever seen”, and it’s “not a good time to be a fisherman”. He predicts that there will be no good action until things warm up. The water is 38 degrees and clear.
  • Upper and Lower Tidal James: No report.
  • North Landing River and Back Bay: Dewey Mullins says that things have been iced over for the last 4 to 5 weeks; so no anglers.
  • Lake Gordon: I hope I never have to use these words again this year “I have not been fishing!”
  • Sandy River and Briery Creek: No report.

And on and on. That is a real mid-winter fishing report. Cold water, slow fishing and ice that’s not thick enough to ice fish in most places. There are fish being caught, sure, but it’s slow. New Year’s Day gave me a little entertainment, but nothing since then.

But then there’s Lake Anna, warmed by the cooling waters of its nuclear reactors: Stripers – they are biting. Bass – they are chasing bait fish. White Perch – they are active, too. Lake Anna and maybe the Dickerson Power Plant in Maryland, which I may try to hit in the next couple weeks to give my switch rod a workout.

In the meantime, I have been buying supplies and tying flies, will post some pictures soon. Got some midges and brassies, some big Clouser Minnows for pickerel this summer, lots of woolly buggers and whatever else I can learn until it warms up a little.

Nymphing and Midging, Must Be Winter Alright

Since my last Copper John should at this very moment be disintegrating into its last tiny bits at the bottom of Big Stoney Creek, I have spent the last couple nights at my tying bench crafting replacements. Midges catch fish, everyone says. And a small Copper John is not only capitalized, apparently, but qualifies in my book as a midge pupa. So here is a shot of it and a few others — PHOTOS ARE COMING, BUT NOT TODAY, SORRY… Very simple things to tie with the right high magnification glasses on my middle aged eyes.

This fly tying thing is a great winter time distraction, I’m finding now in my first full winter of doing it.

UPDATE: The British call midges “buzzers” because of the sound they make as they cruise by one’s head. Global Fly Fisher has a good overview of tying buzzers for stillwater fly fishing.

Flyosophy – Ten Things Every Fly Fisherman Should Know

FlyosophyIf it’s about fishing and it’s funny, I’ve probably found it on Moldy Chum. So in that respect today is like almost every other day. That and the weather man telling us that we may get a dusting of snow, or many inches of snow tomorrow. They usually narrow it down right around when it starts, like tomorrow at rush hour. Anyway, Sean “Sean Juan” Murphy (Real name? We can only hope.) has a useful list of ten things we fly fisherman should know. So that you may take things seriously, the Flyosopher’s bona fides:

…I have a Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots game, haven’t seen my boss in about seven years, and to top it all off, the incredibly broad-shouldered and jacked Flyosopher walks down the street with the not-so quiet confidence that he could easily kill the average man with his bare hands.

It starts with Know How To Swim. I recommend reading the rest yourself.

Virginia Trout Stocking Schedule January 7 2011

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries

Happy New Year! Those of you near the cities have some fresh fish right now. Cook Lake in Alexandria, Old Cossey Pond in Fredericksburg, Locust Shade Park in Prince William County and Dorey Park Lake in Henrico County were just stocked this week. Locust Shade Park has rainbows and brown trout. Click on one of the links above, and get out there.

Albemarle Co.
Moormans River (N. Fork) (01/06)
Moormans River (S. Fork) (01/06)
Sugar Hollow Reservoir (01/06)
Alexandria (City of)
Cook Lake (01/05)
Amherst Co.
Piney River (South Fork & Proper) (01/03)
Bath Co.
Cowpasture River (01/03)
Buchanan Co.
Dismal River (01/03)
Dickenson Co.
Cranesnest River (01/05)
Pound River (Flannagan Dam) (01/05)
Russell Fork River (Bartlick) (01/05)
Fredericksburg (City of)
Old Cossey Pond (01/05)
Grayson Co.
Fox Creek (01/04)
Middle Fox Creek (01/04)
Henrico Co.
Dorey Park Lake (01/04)
Page Co.
Hawksbill Creek (01/06)
Prince William Co.
Locust Shade Park (01/05)
Richmond (City of)
Shield Lake (01/04)
Roanoke Co.
Roanoke River (Salem) (01/05)
Rockbridge Co.
Irish Creek (01/05)
Russell Co.
Big Cedar Creek (01/06)
Washington Co.
Big Tumbling Creek (01/06)

It’s The Time of Year to Fish Midges

Pink Midges
Midges tied in... pink?

Winter is a great time to fish midge imitations (Chironomidae), those tiny little bugs that I need 3X reading glasses to have a chance of threading onto my leader. Fishing with midges is a current topic on several websites right now.

MidCurrent has a good overview of fly fishing with midges.

Harry Murray has a new podcast about fly fishing with midges.

TroutU has a little guide about fly fishing with midges.

If you are on Facebook, a guy named Greg Faught (search on Facebook to find him) from New Mexico has some great photos of midges he ties, including some funky colors like the pink ones shown here.

Tie one on. Buy some new glasses for 2011. And get out there.

Field & Stream Predicts Small Stream Fishing Trend in 2011

Field & Stream

Field & Stream just published an article about fishing trends for 2011. They predict that the rod wars are back, a move away from niche marketing by the tackle manufacturers and a renewed interest in small stream fishing.

We’ve got you covered for that last topic.

I must admit, though, that the thought of small stream fishing becoming more popular is troubling. The last thing I want to see when I head out to remote streams are throngs of people romping around looking for fishy places to prowl. Selfish, I know, but isn’t the escape and solitude a major part of the appeal of small stream fly fishing? The good news is I don’t think this trend will be large enough to actually qualify as a “trend.” Small stream fly fishing still takes a lot of effort and the reward of tiny fish is still lost on most anglers. I’m not sure that is going to ever change.

Building a renewed awareness of small streams, especially from the conservation angle, would be a good thing. Hopefully any trend towards small stream fishing will at least result in a greater awareness and effort to conserve these wild places, if not everyone piling onto every little creek out there.

The article also mentions that Tom Rosenbauer will be releasing a new book on small stream fly fishing in April, 2011. I definitely look forward to that. I am a regular listener of the Orvis Fly Fishing Guide Podcast and just got his Orvis Fly Tying Guide for Christmas, both wonderful resources from a guy who knows quite a bit.

Results of the University of Virginia Trout Stream Sensitivity Study

Happy little brook trout in clean water
Happy little brook trout in clean water

The results of the long term Virginia Trout Stream Sensitivity Study indicate that trout streams in Virginia are recovering from the effects of acidification, “though not as fast or as thoroughly as waters in some other parts of the country.” The increase in water quality between 2000 and 2010 was significant and much better than the small increase in quality from 1987 to 2000.

While that is very good news, Rick Webb, the project’s coordinator, warns that the improvement is still very relative. “Things have not fully recovered by any means,” said Webb. “Many of the streams that have been most impacted are likely not ever to recover, at least in a human time frame.”

It is interesting to note that amendments to the Clean Air Act of 1990 implemented a cap and trade system for sulfur dioxide emissions, the primary cause of acid rain and stream acidification. This program phased in the emissions targets gradually since 1990, and is credited with reducing S02 emissions by one third.

Read more at the VTSSS website and its partner site, The Shenandoah Watershed Study.