Just got back from my trip down to Botetourt. I was invited on a fraternity brother’s annual fishing trip his dad as been doing since he was 5. The guys said the water was pretty low this year maybe two feet lower than usual. North and Middle were stocked the week before, and Jennings was stocked the day we arrived. The low water and the heavy fishing pressure made for some tough fishing. I struck out Thursday afternoon and all day Friday. I got some good advice from TPFR, but the few fish I did find were very spooky (they could see me through 6-12 inches of crystal clear water with clear blue skies and I wasn’t particularly stealthy), and when I did approach without scaring them away, they just watched whatever I cast their way float on by. I had a few presentations I was proud of but no fish to show for it. Meanwhile the bait and spin casters were pounding the few deep holes out there and pulling some pretty decent fish out. Thursday I saw one trout. Friday I saw four after fishing almost 12 hours. I stayed busy and challenged though learning to tie the orvis knot faster, and definitely getting experience setting up tandem rigs and adjusting depth. I was also getting to know the area, and finding the fishier looking spots. I took solace in the fact that some of the other guys in the group were striking out as well, and that my hammock setup had handled the 25-30 degree lows no problem. The camping and camaraderie was great, but fishing needed to pick up.
Saturday I drove back down the mountain toward the bend in Jennings where I had seen the four trout the previous day. I was surprised to see no cars parked along that bend despite it being about 9am when I got down there. I walked over to a rock overlooking the stream and saw fifteen trout holding water between two rocks where I had a seen a trout take cover the day before. I went back to the car and got my rod and threw on a san juan worm and a caddis nymph. Then later a black and a blue quill nymph, but nothing. Then I tried some egg patters below a dry fly. I took out a box with some classic trout nymphs and tried a bunch of common stuff, princes and copper johns, etc, but nothing. The only good news at this point is that most of the trout had not spooked off, despite my nymphs flowing right by them. I had been very careful with my casts up to this point. I thought a streamer would scare the fish off, but I was out of ideas. I had a worm egg combo fly I’d had some success with previously, so I tied that on as a last resort before the streamers. I drifted it past/through the group about three times before I finally got a strike. I landed the fish, took a quick picture, and before I could grab my hemostat, the fish flopped out of the net, broke the line, and swam off. I was shocked to see about ten of the trout still near the same rock. Somehow they had not spooked. I switched to a snowhite damsel, and landed two more. A wooly landed my fourth and final fish. By this time, the spin guys had shown up and were waiting on my hot spot. I’d been fishing it about four hours and had missed breakfast, so I conceded the spot, wished the spin guys luck, and left for some lunch. I returned after lunch to find a couple trout left. But they were much more spooky and savvy, and I didn’t land any more. As tough as the fishing was, I would have been happy to land one. I was ecstatic with four.
I fished a little more, but to no avail. The last day, I fished my fiberglass 3wt some, and it was a lot more enjoyable on the small tight pocket water. I also really enjoyed my new Korkers Hatchback wading boots. Still needed some shopping bags to slip in easily, but they were very comfortable. Even though I struggled some, it was some of the most beautiful fishing I’ve ever enjoyed. The boulders, canyons, and waterfalls made for an amazing setting. Saturday evening, I enjoyed some celebratory bourbon with the guys and then made great time getting home the next morning. Can’t wait for next year.by rsiv with