Time: 3:30PM – 7:00PM
Location: Private water
Fish Landed: 2
David L. is friends with Jake, the owner and operator of Riverbound, which is located in southwestern Virginia. As an investor and member, David arranged for us to fish the Little River on Friday May 7, 2015. David referred to these streams as “managed”, which meant that they are stocked and contain a reasonable quantity of hatchery reared lunkers. The Little River was an hour plus drive from Bristol, TN, and we arrived and began fishing by 3:30PM on Friday afternoon.
Friday turned out to be another nice day, although temperatures climbed into the high 80’s. Given the meandering nature of Little River with long slow moving pools and thinner overhead streamside coverage, the high temperatures translated to warmer water and more difficult fishing conditions especially given our late afternoon arrival. We did hear some thunder and dark clouds appeared on the southern horizon, but we never felt any drops of rain as we prospected the placid waters of Little River.
In order to reach the pastoral stream we had to pass through a locked gate, two cattle gates, and then traverse a short but very rough dirt road. David L. possessed the combination to open the locked gate, and shortly thereafter we arrived at the edge of the river in a parking spot that was no more than a worn off portion of the pasture. The river was a nice width; roughly thirty yards wide at most spots, and it flowed across numerous ledge rocks. This geology produced some very steep drop offs, so we were very cautious whenever we were required to wade. For the most part the section of river that we fished consisted of long pools punctuated by short riffles and runs at the beginning of each slow moving area. The surrounding terrain was a huge pretty pasture, and the stream executed two large oxbow turns in the course of its flow through the private land. The entire pasture and streamside vegetation were decked out in varying shades of green as spring had recently arrived in southwestern Virginia.
When we were prepared to fish, we crossed the river near our parking space and immediately encountered a gorgeous deep pool that ran along a rock ledge wall on the far side with several fallen tree limbs adding more structure. I spotted a handful of caddis as I disturbed some streamside bushes, so I tied a size 14 stimulator with a medium olive body to my line. As I was doing this, I noticed a couple sporadic rises along the current line that slid by the ledge rock walls that bordered the far bank. This prompted me to execute some downstream drifts, and much to my surprise a nine inch rainbow rose and slurped in the stimulator. I was pleased to avoid a skunking almost immediately at the start of my fishing outing.
After releasing the rainbow, I moved up a bit to an attractive place where some branches hung over the current seam, and as I positioned myself I heard and then saw several more random rises. In addition to the presence of small caddis, I now spotted two large mayflies fluttering up from the river. Could these by march browns? David L. arrived at the top of the pool as I switched to a march brown comparadun that I placed in my fly box in case I encountered this large eastern mayfly species. While I was switching flies he caused my anticipation to rise as he landed an eighteen inch rainbow on a sculpzilla streamer. Why was I messing around with these delicate dry fly imitations?
Once I had the march brown attached to my line, I made quite a few prospecting casts to the areas where I spotted rises, but the fish were having none of it. The march brown hatch that I anticipated never materialized, so David L. suggested that we hike to the downstream border of the private water and then fish back to the car. We forded the river again below the long pool and then shortcut across the open end of the oxbow on a tractor trail. We each began fishing large pools with overhanging sycamore limbs, and while I was nearby, David L. experienced a momentary hook up on the streamer. Could this be where I would land my first trout on my peanut envy articulated streamer?
I decided to defer streamer fishing for a bit and converted to a nymphing rig with the productive ultra zug bug and hares ear nymphs as my offerings. I quickly realized that the deep pools were unproductive and quite boring to fish with my nymphing approach, so I left them for David L. and his streamers, while I moved on and fished the faster runs at the head of each pool. Finally after an hour of fishing in a relatively nondescript riffle about three feet deep, the indicator darted, and I set the hook. I instantly realized that I had a large fish, so I carefully worked the big boy and allowed three or four long runs before it tired, and I was able to gain control. My net barely contained the hefty pink striped rainbow, but once I had it over the rim, I snapped some photos and removed the hares ear and gently revived it. The finned torpedo measured three inches beyond the end of my net opening, but the girth of the lunker was even more impressive.
This episode naturally raised my interest level, but as I moved on I could not replicate my success. I was hoping that some sort of eastern mayfly hatch would commence as darkness approached, so I experimented with a sulfur wet fly with this eventuality in mind. It never happened, and eventually I worked my way completely around the oxbow and returned to the first pool near the car. As the light faded, I spotted a cloud of black caddis above the water, but my efforts to imitate with a dark bodied stimulator dry produced only a brief hook up with a medium sized rainbow trout. I was not able to entice any more action on the stimulator despite some violent rises in the area, but they were quite random and spaced out.
As I waited for David L. to return, I tied on a Cathy’s super bugger and stripped it near the beginning of the pool, but once again my attempts at streamer fishing proved fruitless. When David arrived we decided to call it a day and waded back to the Suburban to begin our trip back to Bristol, TN.