Posts Tagged With: Virginia

A Visit to Mossy Creek Fly Fishing

One of the most important things to remember when booking a guide for a fishing trip is to make your reservation early, especially for popular guides on popular water at popular times of year. Still, it never hurts to ask, and the folks at Mossy Creek Fly Fishing couldn’t have been nicer while explaining to me, in mid-April, why a guided float down the Shenandoah for smallmouth bass in early May was out of the question, though they still had spots open for May of 2019.

A self-guided float down a nearby stretch of the Shenandoah, however, was more within the realm of possibility so, when rain chased us off the lake on Saturday afternoon, five damp-ish, possibly smelly, smart alecs mounted an expedition to Mossy Creek’s shop in Harrisonburg, VA, for advice and flies to use on Monday’s river run.

Mossy Creek Fly Fishing HQ

I want to say her name was Melissa and If I’m wrong, I’m sorry. I’m just going to say it and stick with it. I’m nearly certain she didn’t say her name was Myrtle and she was the only person in the shop that rainy Saturday afternoon. Having dealt with damp, smelly smart alecs¬†fly fishers, myself, a time or two, I quickly saw she was up to the task. Her advice and fly recommendations turned out to be spot-on, and her exasperation with our antics hardly showed at all.

Previously located in the strip mall part of town, Mossy Creek Fly Fishing moved to their new location last year, and the painted brick exterior of their building gives little indication of what’s inside.

Temptations

Mossy Creek Fly Fishing is a full service shop, able to outfit an angler from head to toe with a wide variety of everything from clothing to rods, reels and lines. They also carry an extensive selection of fly tying materials and accessories, along with flies already tied, chosen specifically for their region and season.

Tie Your Own?

 

Just the Flies You’ll Need

The nearest fly shop to my home is the Orvis flagship store in Manchester, VT, where they are obligated to carry every darn fly in the catalog, and it was kind of nice to see fly bins that didn’t overwhelm with too many patterns in too many sizes. The empty sections weren’t sold out of certain flies; the flies that weren’t there were flies you weren’t going to be needing. Hindsight being 20/20, I do wish I’d taken a picture of their smallest nymph next to their biggest musky fly (which, if I remember correctly, resembled a medium-size pink parrot).

From Head to Toe

In addition to guided trips for trout, smallmouth bass, musky, and carp, Mossy Creek offers classes, from instruction for beginners to advanced casting. They also host the Orvis Virginia Fly Fishing School, for those interested in a full-day’s immersion in the Orvis way.

Vests, Nets, and Bags for Everything

An Orvis endorsement is one thing; endorsement by customers and clients is another. The online reviews of Mossy Creek Fly Fishing I found are overwhelmingly positive and, perhaps more impressive, those reviews all received responses from Mossy Creek.

Mossy Creek Fly Fishing is located at the corner of East Market Street and Sterling Street, across from the Woodbine Cemetery and just up from the Stonewall Jackson Inn in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Or, they can be found online, at mossycreekflyfishing.com.

I’ll be back.

(It should be noted that one of my motivations for visiting Mossy Creek Fly Fishing was the possibility of sighting the rare and elusive Tom Sadler, known as something of a Tenkara guru, among many other things. As some of you may know, we here at The View from Fish in a Barrel Pond are also fond of Tenkara, though our techniques may differ from Tom’s in a few important ways. See Vermont Hand Crafted Tenkara Rods from November, 2010. Tom, of course, was on the water, right where he should be. ~QG)

 

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Castwell’s Curse is Lifted

In the short story “Mr. Theodore Castwell”, by G.E.M. Skues, the aforementioned and deceased Mr. Castwell approaches the Pearly Gates and presents himself as a fly fisher. Escorted to a perfectly lovely cottage next to a perfectly lovely piece of water, he catches fish after fish from the same spot, over and over again. When he decides to move along to another spot, he is told he may not, and it slowly dawns on him that he won’t, after all, be spending eternity in the place he thought he’d be spending it.

Halcyon Days

After eleven years fishing the same small watershed and lake in Vermont, Quill Gordon could relate. Same water, same fish, same “fellow” anglers — not all of whom treated him well — year after year. It was a classic case of Castwell’s Curse, exacerbated by the fact that there is some stuff up with which he will not put, and so it came to pass that Quill Gordon broke down his rods, packed up his gear and, unlike Castwell, got the hell out of there, making his way to a cozy hibernaculum at the top of the hill in which to pass the winter while waiting for the sap runs of spring.

“F*ck trout, those dainty, speckled beauties, always delicately sipping in their cold, limpid pools,” he thought to himself. “And f*ck those who are obsessed with them, too.”

Quill Gordon was in a serious f*nk.

Then a mid-winter message arrived, an invitation to fish somewhere other than what had become his home water. Suddenly it made sense again to have all those books about bass on his shelves. Henshaw and Whitlock and Murray displaced Proper and Brooks and Wulff on the table; skinny hackle and tiny hooks gave way to buck tail and an old box of #6 Stingers at the bench; lines designed for delicate presentations were stripped from their reels, replaced by heavy-headed rigs meant for slinging big flies into places where a little commotion can be a good thing.

Places like western Virginia.

The morning plane to Boston flew 150 mph at 5,000 ft. Fortunately, the afternoon plane from Boston to Richmond did 600 mph at 34,000 ft and Quill Gordon soon found himself drinking bourbon, listening to whippoorwills in the Appalachian twilight. Having shipped a gallon of syrup ahead, the bourbon tasted of maple.

Appalachian Twilight

It was Thursday night, and plans were made to fish for bass on Saturday and Monday, which makes this a good place in the story to inform readers that Quill Gordon didn’t really mean it when he thought to himself, “F*ck trout,” although the jury is still out on the anglers.

On Friday morning, Quill rigged up his 6′ 2-wt while the morning mist rose from the folds of the hills and, after a healthy breakfast, he was off to wade small streams in pursuit of Virginia’s famed brook trout. Having shipped a gallon of syrup ahead, the bacon and grits tasted of maple.

Morning Mist

Brook trout may not be trout (they are char) but they are enthusiastic, and it was almost anticlimactic to hook the first “away” fish in a decade on the first cast.

Almost.

Standing knee deep in an unfamiliar stream on the side of an unfamiliar mountain, there was still something familiar about the whole thing. The glint of sunlight on the riffle and the spray of diamonds at its tail when the little fish struck the #14 Adams felt remembered, not as anything in particular that had happened before, but in a vague, vestigial way. Kind of like deja-vu. Kind of like finding home in a place you’ve never been before.

Regular readers know not to expect pictures of fish (unless it’s an old picture of someone else holding them) but that small brook trout was significant. Castwell’s Curse had been lifted.

A Very Heavy Fish

It was a heavy little fish.

Some more photos of small streams fished last week in the George Washington National Forest in western Virginia:

To Mark, Gary, Todd, Mike, and Doc, I say thank you for inviting me down and accepting me into the group. Our times in Vermont were always special and I am fortunate to have been included in your spring ritual.

To all seven of my loyal readers, I say thanks for hanging in there with me while I worked on removing the curse that had been placed upon my head. This little jaunt gave me plenty to write about and I look forward to sitting down to share more.

Tight lines, wubbas.

~QG

 

 

 

 

Categories: Fly Fishing, nature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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