Fishing Reports

51 posts

2011 – The Year in Review

I think 2011 goes down as the one of the best years of fishing for me. Now that we’re into the middle of January 2012, I’ve had time to go through photos and savor all of it. A quick review of the highlights and some notable firsts for me in 2011:

Rainbow Trout, Big Stoney Creek, Virginia
Rainbow on Big Stony Creek

The first day of 2011 — New Year’s Day — I caught one fish, a 15″ rainbow in Big Stony Creek near Edinburg, Virginia. That was the first time I’d ever gone fishing on New Year’s Day. I got him on a Copper John, and it was the nicest rainbow I’ve caught so far (I know, I have to get out and try for rainbows a little more often). Big Stony Creek is a nice stream. It gets stocked by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries a few times each year but it also seems to have a population of holdover trout. Some of its tributaries, I am told, also hold some nice brook trout. This is something I am going to have to discover this year.

Robinson River Brook Trout
Robinson River Brookie - may be actual size!

Brook trout fishing, which is for some strange reason still my first love, was excellent. I got to Shenandoah National Park at least a half dozen times to catch fish, plus a couple more times to scout Indian Run and Overall Run. I’ve since learned some things about the latter that give me hope it will be a decent stream to fish someday, but for me those two streams were a bust. But the Piney River, Hughes, North Fork of the Thornton, Jeremy’s Run, The Robinson River in White Oak Canyon, Cedar Run and one stream I still hesitate to name were often excellent. Beginning on the no-name stream in late February I caught three nice sized brookies on an Adams. Dry fly fishing in the winter, that’s it! And it just got better all season. In the Poconos I caught about five fish from one pool on a small mountain stream, all over ten inches and the biggest going about 12″. A twelve inch brookie in a small stream… THAT was nice!

Largemouth Bass
Summer Fun

In May I finally checked out the pond near home that I’ve been driving by for years. In a half dozen trips in spring and early summer I caught dozens of bluegill and largemouth, and one fallfish. Nice evening getaway in only a ten minute drive from home. I’d sit out there from an hour or so before sunset until the posted clear-out-of-here time (darkness), throwing micro poppers on my four weight to aggressive bluegill, or bigger poppers with my five weight Sage FLi (still love that rod once you get used to its tip-flex action) to decent sized largemouth. This year I’m going to return with a proper deer hair bass bug and see if the REALLY big bass are really in there.

Catoctin Mountain Brook Trout
Catoctin Mountain Brook Trout

Also in the spring I got up to Thurmont, MD a few times. I hooked two brown trout in Big Hunting Creek (what a nice place) and found a stream not far from there where I landed a couple nice brook trout. This is another area that merits further exploration. I drove around quite a bit and decided to check out a couple streams right next to the roads I was driving. Picked up the brookie in the photo literally right next to the road where I parked. I can’t give that one up — you’ll have to find these spots yourself.


Thirty inches of pike fury.

In July I went to Canada with some friends to fish Gananoque Lake. My fly fishing was limited by their desire to not have a fly line whizzing by their heads with four of us on a pontoon boat, but I did manage to use it once with them tolerating it and a few times on the dock, catching some nice sized bluegills and one good crappie. In the boat with the spinning rod, I caught the largest smallmouth so far (about five pounds!) and my first pike, going 30″. Those both made the trip worthwhile, along with the other catches. Next time, I’m going to chuck a full sinking line over the side with a meaty pike fly. Those guys will get used to it.

Several times this summer I also got several pickerel on the fly and spinning rod in a nice lake in the Poconos my family and I go to every summer. It’s interesting as they seem to prefer different colored flies at different times of the year. In June and early July bright flies (white and flashy) work best, while late summer and fall I’ve done really well with fox tail Clouser minnows. I overdid it in mid-summer with a full sinking line instead of my usual intermediate seven weight. It seems like going too deep in that lake is not as productive as staying in the sweet spot about four to ten feet down. And the “big game” fluorocarbon mostly kept them from biting through the line except for a couple times. More to experiment with this year…

Dad on the South Branch of the Raritan
Dad on the South Branch of the Raritan

Another first (maybe I should call this a second) was returning to the place I caught my first fish when I was six years old, Round Valley Reservoir in New Jersey. My dad and I made a hot summer day of it, hitting it and later that day the South Branch of the Raritan in the morning and afternoon, respectively. Another skunking but I think I know what to do when I return there this year (i.e. don’t go on a hot bluebird day in summer — hit Round Valley by boat, too, not from shore, and early or late; return to the Raritan to catch some trout in the springtime… etc.).

Of course, living near the Shenandoah allows me to go out in the kayak or wade near shore and catch smallmouth, catfish, carp and bluegill. Haven’t gotten a carp yet, but I’ll talk about that more in my 2012 post.

I even wet a line in the Potomac for the first time ever. Skunked, but for a high muddy water day I wasn’t expecting much. My plans for shad fishing were scuttled by our incredibly wet springtime, and I still have not gotten down there to catch some rockfish as we call them here, or stripers if you’re from up north. I will be doing all that this year if the creek don’t rise.

Late in the summer I attended a two hour casting clinic with fly fishing instructor and guide Dusty Wissmath at Kelly’s White Fly Shop in Shephardstown, WV. Dusty is a fantastic casting instructor. He focused on a few key points, and though it was geared towards beginners he spent some time separately with me (probably a good intermediate caster) and that was very valuable. I highly recommend attending any instructional clinic with him, and based on that one, I may try to do a guided trip with him.

The year 2011 found me distracted with photography. I’d gotten into it off and on in years past but the past two years I’ve really taken to it, 2011 especially. That and my son’s sports schedule kept me busy and mostly away from fishing in the fall.

Redfish - Mosquito Lagoon, Florida
Redfish - Mosquito Lagoon, Florida

The last week of the year I managed to get another milestone — my first saltwater fish on a fly rod in the Mosquito Lagoon in Florida. Had my casting been better I’m sure I could have boated a few more fish but as it was I hooked a few and boated one nice redfish. Redfish! I can’t wait to go back and do that again.

By the time 2011 ended I filed away fishing licenses for Maryland, Canada, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Thankfully Virginia doesn’t issue their licenses on a calendar year basis so the freshwater and trout licenses are good for me until mid-2012 or so. Maryland and Pennsylvania will be renewed right away, the others as needed.

So 2011 was a very good year, but I think I can top it in 2012. Stay tuned for what I’ll call the 2012 small-container-of-good-stuff (rather than “bucket“) list

Redfish Fishing in the Mosquito Lagoon, Florida

Redfish - Mosquito Lagoon, Florida
Redfish - Mosquito Lagoon, Florida

Quick note about my last outing of 2011 — what a great way to end the year! I fished with John Kumiski who runs The Spotted Tail, a guide service operating on the Mosquito Lagoon, Indian River and nearby locations around Cape Canaveral, Florida. We went out one afternoon the last week in December. A cold front had come through the day before and the water was discolored and the fishing reports were grim. But John put us on a bunch of redfish! I hooked three or four, and if my casting had been better I’m sure I could have had a few more, but the one pictured was worth the trip.

Brook Trout Fishing Report – North Fork Thornton River, Shenandoah National Park Virginia

North Fork Thornton River - SummerWell, it’s been a month since I fished here and it’s the first time I’ve tried it during the summer. When I got there I did not expect to find a mostly dry boulder strewn spillway with some scattered puddles of stream. How can fish survive a summer in something like that? But survive they do. I ran across a couple walking their dog and they said it looks that way every summer. I know I’ve caught some nice brook trout in this river on two occasions (both springtime) so they are in there somewhere. And I managed to find a few.

I parked on the side of the road at the bottom of the stream and hiked into the park. It’s tricky figuring out how to walk in without trespassing. Hikers are definitely not encouraged with all the no parking and towing warnings, and you have to walk by a couple houses right at the park entrance but it’s all legal. I always make an effort to be quiet and move quickly past residences in these spots, which is not uncommon throughout the lower reaches of Shenandoah National Park. If I were living there that’s what I would appreciate, so I try to operate that way and be unobtrusive and as invisible as possible.

Anyway, I fished only in one pool:

North Fork Thornton River Pool

Here is what I caught… One minnow with red eyes:


One small rainbow One Rosyside Dace:

Rosyside Dace

One very small brook trout:

Small Brook Trout

I’ve Been Gone So Long

Summer is officially over, and that means the same for my long hiatus from work and this blog. You see, over the past couple months I took some time off. My travels brought me to some brook trout as well as some real big fish, and also to some incredibly tiny fish.

First, the brook trout. As usual, each summer I spend some time in the Poconos, a wooded expanse of hills and water in northeastern Pennsylvania. In only one of two trips I took to catch some brookies in the past two months I managed to catch ten fish in one afternoon on a small creek near the cabin we go to each summer. It was crazy. These fish were all in two pools that I always hit on this stream, and for some reason every one that I got to my hands slipped out. Camera shy I’m sure. Totally annoying and yet amazing fun all the same. This included what was the biggest brook trout I’ve ever had in my hands, easily over twelve inches and possibly larger. This was one of only a few times I’ve actually “battled” a brookie. On a three weight rod a lot of small fish are a minor fight but this was truly an effort. And as I grabbed my camera and brought this relative lunker into focus he thrashed right out of my hand and back into the water. Bummer. But what a fish.

The summer also included the usual fare on the lake we visit — pickerel. Almost any time of day, these guys attack almost anything. With the hot weather we had to go deep to get them, and though some days were a little slow they are always willing to assassinate a Clouser minnow or a slowly drawn lure.

Thirty inches of pike fury.

But the big trip of the summer for me was to Gananoque Lake in Ontario, Canada. A couple friends let me tag along on a trip they take every summer (one of them for the past thirty years) to catch some big bass and pike. I had never caught a pike until I hauled in this guy.


The big disappointment of this trip was being restricted to spin fishing only, except for several nice bluegills and a large crappie I caught off the dock of our cottage with my big old 9’6″ 8 wt Scott G series. When you’re on a boat with three other guys who don’t fly fish, the fly rod is not a popular idea. When I asked, the response was something like, “Sure you can fly fish. Get your own boat.” So it was the Ugly Stick with a 12″ wire leader and one super productive lure all day every day, the silver and blue Rattletrap. It was hot. Had to go deep.

Smallmouth Bass
Good smallmouth! Photo-challenged friend.

All that was great but the bass fishing on Gananoque Lake was the biggest surprise. These guys have never had huge success with smallmouth bass but three of us hooked some good sized bronze backs like the one pictured with yours truly. Certainly the biggest smallie I’ve ever landed, and by far the biggest fight of any fish I caught that week, big pike included. There is nothing — NOTHING — like catching a healthy smallmouth bass. That made the trip for me.

Other highlights of the summer included a stop on the St. Lawrence river for more pike and a trip to Round Valley Reservoir and the South Branch of the Raritan in New Jersey. My dad and I hit both of these on another very hot day in late July. Skunked we were, but I did see some nice rainbows in the reservoir and I know the South Branch has a great population of browns, rainbows and brookies. I will definitely be back there this fall and probably this winter too. Hopefully I will get to Round Valley again, too, and in a boat since the shoreline fishing is a little limiting in that place.

As for the incredibly small fish, that happened in late August on the North Fork of the Thornton River in Shenandoah National Park. I’ll come back to that. It’s impressive in its own way.

Hope you all had a great summer. Stay tuned for more…

Summertime Fun on the Local Bass Pond

Largemouth Bass
Summer Fun

Work and the typical obligations of life have kept me bound to the local spots. The one place I can get away to quickly and spend an hour or two in the evenings is a local bass pond, a pond thick with bluegills as I wrote about no too long ago.

Not only is this a fun place to catch a mess of bluegills but I’ve caught quite a few nice largemouth bass at this pond, too, all on slightly larger flies like blue and black Shenandoah poppers. I also landed my biggest bass from that pond using a big black round popper on a five weight fly rod. It measured sixteen inches and weighed a little over two pounds. Not bad for a pond that might be five acres in size and is pretty shallow.

The only bad part is that over the past few weeks the weeds have grown massively on the edges of this pond, negating a lot of the advantage of using a fly rod there. The next step may be to take the ultralight spinning rod down there with some poppers. Not quite the same but still a fun way to end a day.

Another largemouth bass


Some of my friends who fish for bass and pike up north really look down their noses at catching small fish. But a small fly rod makes for a fun time catching some big bluegills and even small bass. I've caught a bunch on my four weight seven footer and, really, how can you complain about that?You can't.So now we're into July and it is HOT. My inclination is to stay away from the lowland trout streams unless they are fed by very cold springs. Trout are stressed when the water temperature hits 70 degrees and for a lot of streams right now this is the case. I have not been in the mountains since early June so have not measured the temps their but I understand that all the spring rain we've had has kept them in much better shape than normal this time of the year. Murray's Fly Shop reported last week that they were still seeing hatches of sulphurs and little yellow stoneflies, as well as the typical summer fare of terrestrials including beetles.

And another bluegill

Go get ’em.

Orvis News: Monster Brook Trout, Labrador Canada

Six pound Labrador Brook Trout
Six pound Labrador Brook Trout!

Orvis News has the first part of an article about fly fishing for monster brook trout on Atikonak Lake in Labrador. Writes the author, Erik Rickstad, “[S]ince I hail from the Land of the 10-Inch Trophy Squaretail (aka Vermont) I’m not yet acclimated to the absurdity of the place,” and goes on to describe brook trout that need two hands to hold. Like a normal sized fish, I guess. We’ve covered all that before. I think it was John Gierach who wrote that the objective may not be the size of the fish you catch but the smallest sized fish you’re happy to catch. Certainly true for those of us who love catching brookies.

You cannot call this fish a “brookie,” though. Too cutesy for a brute like that.

Atikonak Lake is right about here:

View Larger Map


Gotta Love Bluegills

Fishing Pond

Close enough to summertime for me — throwing micro poppers at bluegills on a quiet pond near home.

I brought my seven weight rod tonight looking for a shot at some of the catfish, bass or big crappie that prowl this water. I saw a couple catfish but had no takes with a bead head grizzly woolly bugger then a black rubber legged bugger. Broke out the poppers, though, and I ended up getting a mess of bluegills once the sun went down. They hit the black micro popper, over and over and over.

A seven weight rod for bluegill, like I’m some sort of fishing terrorist. Like a howitzer for shooting squirrels. Like a — doesn’t matter. Just makes you grin.

Gotta love bluegills!

Bluegill from the pond
Bluegill #2 on the pond

Brook Trout Fishing Report, Cedar Run, Shenandoah National Park

Cedar Run in Shenandoah National Park is a tough stream in the section above the falls. It is very steep, boulder-strewn pocket water with the thing fish love and anglers hate — tight cover. There are definitely brook trout here but presenting a fly to them is a major challenge.


Cedar Run Brook Trout
The day's lone victim.
Location Cedar Run, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Date Sunday 22-May-2011
Weather Humid, 80 degrees, mostly cloudy.
Water Mid-50’s temperature, medium high flow.
Terrain Steep, rocky, muddy from recent rains; tight cover.
Distance Covered 3.5 miles, 3100 feet elevation change round trip.
Tackle Used Winston WT 7 foot 3 weight, double taper line, 9 foot leader, Mr. Rapidan size 16 and an Irresistible size 12.
Fishing Results Poor. Three brook trout hooked, one landed (about six inches).
Best Part of the Trip Barbless hooks pull out of fingers easily.
Freakiest Encounter Millipedes crawling around everywhere.


I feel like I was over-gunned pitching dries with a seven foot three weight on Cedar Run. A six foot or even shorter two weight (or lighter) is probably ideal for this stream. I was bow and arrow casting into a lot of the tight spots. When you’re casting like that, the stream is kicking your butt. I think had shots for fish in places I could not cast to — logs and low foliage all over this stream — but a lot of those places were difficult even for unconventional casting. On the other hand, there are quite a few deep pools. I could have tried nymphing some of them but many had very visible and sandy bottoms and were right next to the heavily used trail. I did fish a few deeper pools (with no luck) but the ones near the trail I passed by with my dry fly rigged up.

Cedar Run Water

For some reason, whether due to natural barriers or thin water, there is always a line on every stream above which you find no fish. You usually realize you’ve found this line after you’re well past it, because you stop catching anything. Sometimes you never find the line, maybe because it’s getting dark, or you started too far downstream and you eventually have to head home. I have gone pretty far up many streams and not found this line when I expected to, and that’s a pretty cool discovery. But it’s always there, and if you keep going you will cross it and the action will cease. There should be a name for this place where the fish stop living. Maybe there already is, but this seems easy — the “fish line.” Like the tree line in alpine environments, fish are not found above it. Unlike the tree line, fish could still live above the fish line if they were put there and given the chance. Sometimes you find the fish line and it comes much earlier than you expect. You might think you’ve just run into some poor pools, so you keep trying the next one and the next. At some point, you grudgingly realize it’s not you. It’s the fish line. Your casting hasn’t fallen apart and no other flies are going to work. You’ve reached the line. You’re done.

I found the fish line on Cedar Run earlier than I expected. In between the falls where the trail crosses the river and the line, I managed to hook three fish, losing two — a single fish away from a skunking. There is always one fish that cooperates on days like today, and these are the worst days for me in this park if you measure them by the numbers. The only times I’ve come here and caught nothing were in both cases (I’m pretty sure) because there were no fish. The first time, on Indian Run, I am convinced I was above the fish line which was probably outside the park boundary on private property. Had to be the case. The other time, on Overall Run, I still think it was because there are no fish in that stream. I will race down to either of those streams if I find I was mistaken. For now, I’m convinced.


I did hook a good sized brookie in one pool on Cedar Run. Hooked him twice, in fact, but failed to get him. I know he was much bigger than normal because of the tug on the 3 weight rod. That may have been the best and the worst part of the day. I gave the pool a rest and returned but he was not having any of it. And that was the last fish I tangled with all day. He was at the fish line.

One thing I was not expecting was the huge amount of millipedes. Supposedly nocturnal, the North American millipede (narceus americanus) was crawling all over every dead tree trunk and rock. They were everywhere! In one spot I had pulled myself up by grabbing onto a large dead log and had forgotten that best practice of hiking and climbing — look at what you’re pawing before you grab it. Gladly I did not mash one of these guys, who can secrete some junk that can irritate your skin and cause temporary discoloration at the affected spot. Not as bad as I had thought before I got home and read about them — I was thinking it could have been certain death by their highly venomous mandibles. Not to worry, that is quite untrue.

Cedar Run Track

If I get back to Cedar Run I will try from the bottom. When the water comes down that could be the better end of this stream. In the meantime, there are lots of other places and I think better streams in the park. But if you want a challenge and don’t mind demonstrating some fly fishing to the many hikers who use the trail, Cedar Run is worth checking out.


Brook Trout Fishing Report, Catoctin National Park and Cunningham Falls State Park, Maryland

Catoctin Mountain Brook Trout
Catoctin Mountain Brook Trout

Business meetings, those time sucking depressions on my calendar, the black holes of a productive and joyful life. Presumed to be a necessity of IT consulting, sometimes they are only bearable if they are close to some fishable water…

I’ve recently found myself in Maryland working for a client and just last week realized there might be some fishing opportunities near their offices. Knowing this last meeting was really going to, uh, “present some challenges” as the corporate doodie heads like to say, I scoured the map for water and saw that a 45 minute drive would put me in the middle of good trout streams and near what could be some brook trout habitat. The next step was going to be more challenging than the meeting, but so much better — finding out if there were fish.

I scooted out of the meeting (the worst I’ve had in years) and drove up I-270 to the Catoctin Mountains, near Thurmont, Maryland. There are in fact brook trout up there, and nice ones. The Maryland DNR seems to keep this a little bit under the radar, but some reading and a little exploring pays off. The DNR claims “20 native trout streams” in the Catoctin Mountains. If that actually means twenty brook trout streams, that’s amazing. My hunch is that this means twenty wild trout streams — a different thing — but I could be wrong and maybe there really are twenty different native brook trout streams in the area. However, that would rival the number of native trout streams in Shenandoah National Park (30+), which is a much bigger area and a much healthier brook trout habitat. It is hard to believe the Catoctin Mountain area comes that close.

Catoctin Mountain Brook Trout 2
Same brook trout as above. Wide open f-stop -- it was almost sunset on a very shady stream.

Anyway, I found one of those places, a headwaters section of a known stocked stream in the Catoctin Mountains with public access. The fish in the photos was caught on a small Royal Wulff. A very small Royal Wulff. I had tied it with too much hackle and too much wing, and I ended up trimming it down a couple weeks prior on one of my recent brook trout outings. It ended up as a micro Wulff by the time I’d finished. So… I was crawling up the edge of this stream in Maryland on hands and knees and at this particular pool this fish was jumping after small mayflies on the water. It broke the surface three times before I first cast to him. And I first cast to him successfully after pulling my fly out of the same tree twice in two backcasts. Not sure why I often don’t remember the tree is there after the first backcast gets snagged. Between the time you pull the branch down (or climb the tree, and get the fly, untangle the line wrapped around the branch and re-sharpen the hook) and the time you cast again, you forget that — hey — there is a tree back there and you’ve got to make some adjustments. But I sorted that out and got him on the third or fourth drift. Very cool! I suspected it was a brook trout when he first splashed. He certainly was. I hooked and lost a much bigger one just upstream. I know, sounds like a fish story, but it’s fact. Those were the only two I caught or hooked in my short hour on this stream.

You can poke around and find this water easily enough. I’m not under the illusion that this blog gets so much traffic that simply publishing the name of a stream is going to overwhelm it with people tromping around and mishandling these little native fish, but it is of some concern. If a half dozen people pulled up and accessed this particular stream it would be overwhelming — it is that small. But if the DNR website is correct and this is one of, well, let’s say one of “a bunch” of streams that are probably very similar, then at the very least there are a few others in that area. If the Maryland DNR wants to keep some of the pressure off these streams, I understand and sorry if that miffs any of you, but again I’ll say this if you want to catch brook trout in this area — just drive around. You’ll find some.

Earlier in the week I headed to another stream that I had seen mentioned somewhere. I think it is likely there are brook trout in it but I caught none. I did see some small fish and they could have been young of the year brookies, but I’ll need to go back there to investigate a little more. There may be at least a couple other spots that look good nearby and probably once held brook trout. Another meeting will be another excuse to try this spot again.

On both of the trips this week I was also able to fish Big Hunting Creek, in Cunningham Falls State Park. I managed to hook two brown trout on a Kaufman’s Stimulator on the first outing (the first fish spit the hook and the second broke me off around the log he was hiding under), and yesterday I was even more thoroughly skunked. I did meet one other fisherman who said he had hooked a rainbow but lost it and he’d seen a 20″ rainbow in a pool but it did not rise or seem interested when he tried to entice it. He was fishing a double nymph rig with a Copper John and some sort of caddis pupa under a Thingamabobber, which he said was roughly recommended to him by the guys at Hunting Creek Outfitters. Big Hunting Creek is a beautiful stream. A little crowded but I think heading up here in some crappy weather would not only keep the angling pressure low but make for much better fishing than a bluebird day like yesterday.

Overall It Was a Good Hike

Green Six Spotted Tiger Beetle
Six Spotted Tiger Beetle, Overall Run Trail

The Gunpowder River in Maryland. Ah, yes. That was the plan one day last week. I was really looking forward to it since I’ve never fished there and have heard nothing but good things about the Gunpowder. The trip was being organized by the guys at the LL Bean store in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia, perfect for a Gunpowder newbie like me. So the night before, I tied some nymphs, packed my stuff and put a 5 weight sink tip line on the old Pflueger Medalist reel I got off eBay, just in case the water was a little high after all the rain we had last week. That reel was a good buy for $20. I had to take it apart and give it a little rehab — a good cleaning, lube and adjustment — but now it looks fine and the spool spins without rubbing the frame. In my haste to fix the reel up I didn’t realize there were two tiny springs in there — one for the pawl and one for the cam release. So when it didn’t go back together so well I realized pieces were missing. Thankfully I found both tiny springs under my chair. After an hour of scratching my head and trying everything I could think of I finally figured it out. The next test of wit and equipment will be when I call on this thing and its slightly slick drag mechanism to stop an actual fish of some size. But the old reel deserves a shot, or maybe another shot — maybe it’s seen and done this and more with its previous owner. If it proved itself then and still got kicked to the eBay auction curb, it’s deserving for sure.

So… I was ready to roll. The Gunpowder and its wild brown trout were to be assaulted by my enthusiasm, vintage reel and didymo-free wading boots. Unbeknownst to me that night before while I was the fly tying reel-fixing trip-packing maniac, the weather reports started coming in predicting hell was to break loose in the morning. I got an email saying it was off due to dangerous lightning and high winds. Good plans for my day off, completely scuttled. I am thankful, though, that it did not end up worse. This was part of the storm system that destroyed Tuscaloosa, Alabama and took hundreds of lives, including eight in Virginia. It ended up being a dangerous storm and it was a wise decision to stay put.

What do you do when a well-planned day on the river comes apart? Well, the sky cleared up nicely and I had the time blocked off so figured I should go fishing anyway. The Shenandoah River was pretty high and muddy from all that rain, so I decided to catch some brook trout in Shenandoah National Park in a stream I had not yet fished. There was one I’d been eying on the map not too far away that looked promising — Overall Run.

And it stunk.

Overall Run Pool
Fishless Pool, Overall Run

I’ve never heard of anybody fishing Overall Run, but that didn’t matter. There are plenty of streams you never hear about people fishing, even in a national park. It looked like a good long stretch of water inside the park, starting above 2000 feet elevation, with the park’s highest waterfall, 93 feet high. Had to be good, right? Well, I feel kind of stupid now. Had I read before I left that Overall Run Falls dries up in the summer, I would have realized that this stream probably warms too much, runs too low and does not support brook trout. That would explain things. I could have read about the seasonal flow of Overall Run here, too. A little internet research would have saved me a trip.

It was a good hike, though, but it’s too bad about the fishing since it’s a very pretty stream — a classic SNP mountain trout stream, just without the trout. I tried the triumvirate of go-to flies — Adams, Royal Wulff and Mr. Rapidan. The water level was good. I was casting like a champ, getting drag free drifts, hitting the corners of the pools, right up against the boulders — doing everything right, the things that work every time I’ve gone this year, and in years past. I got no strikes, got no looks, saw no fish — nothing. Maybe it’s not conclusive, but coupled with the nature of this stream, it surely is. A day like that would have raised a couple dozen fish on a stream that had any.

White Wildflowers Overall Run
Lots of wildflowers to see this time of year.

Oh well. Like the last time I tried a questionable stream, Indian Run, I had to go hit the money spots for a few weeks after that to salve the wounds. Same thing now. The month of May is prime time brook trout fishing and I’ll be hitting the best streams in the park. No more of this experimental, optimistic exploratory crap. At least not for a few weeks.