In terms of fly fishing, this season has been good, not great. We didn’t see the large volumes of fish that we all hope for. The typical 40-50 fish days just didn’t happen. On a few trips, I was asked the question “Is this a typical day on the river?” My immediate response is “No” but there are a couple of factors that I have been evaluating over the past couple season which help validate my theory.
We suffered major flooding during the spring spawn for the past three years. In fact, last year the water remained astronomically high all season. Typical spawning areas are either washed out or silted over. I feel that this plays a major impact on the overall year classes of fish, as well as the aquatic life of the river as a whole. Coupled with that, the dam releases from Claytor Lake are, and have been, abnormally inconsistent. “Hydro Shocking” is the new norm. This is where the power company conducts major fluctuations in the release causing a rapid up-down release schedule. This causes fish to spread out across all depths of the river at completely random times. Spread out fish is equal to lulls in fish catching activity.
We are also seeing huge volumes of recreational activity not normally present. Waves upon waves of kayakers and tubers are pushing further downriver into the areas that I typically guide in. This creates a lot of pressure on fly-fishing especially when the fish are full of Senkos and Flukes. I can’t stop them, I can only hope to start educating them on courtesies expected when floating by a guide or other anglers.
However, we did manage to land some really nice bass; bass that had me jealous. In an effort to adapt to the ever-changing fishing environment, my clients and I had to change tactics. We starting catching fish on “popper/dropper” rigs, abnormally large poppers, and a random assortment of colors that would not have normally thrown. We had to fish new water, at strange depths, and at different times. It was a challenge, but the challenge was readily accepted. Nothing in fly fishing is constant and our ability as anglers to adapt is the key point at which success is obtained, especially when we are fishing ever-changing water systems.
In the end, it was a great season. Yes, we had some days that were slow, but we still managed to boat some very large bass. More importantly, we boated memories that will last a lifetime.
I hope to see you this Fall
– Wesley Hodges
The number of women in the outdoors continues to grow. Its been a long time coming, but a much-needed addition. We offer a full line up of outdoor experiences for fishy females. From beginner lessons to bird hunts, the outdoors belong to you too! We are putting on special trips just for female groups. Contact me to inquire about these dates and prices.
We aren’t always fishing for big smallmouth. We offer full-day wade and float trips for wild trout. For those of you that don’t know, the Jackson River is one of the best fisheries on the East Coast for throwing streamers to big, wild Brown Trout. We also have access to private lodging with full-service amenities for those that want to book overnight trips. Keep in mind, when all the other rivers are blown out, the Jackson River is still fishable. It clears fast and the dam discharge is very consistent. We also have access to private water. This is the perfect location to host a business outing or to learn the sport of fly fishing in a relaxing environment.
Upland bird hunting is the newest bucket list item. Whether you are walking the ridge lines of the Blue Ridge Mountains or the prairies of Montana, a day afield with friends is just what your soul requires. We offer a full line up of upland opportunities from plantation hunts near Richmond, wild grouse hunts on private leases, or destination travel to remote locations. These trips can be catered for those that are limited in experience to those that still search for the perfect point.
From Iceland to Montana, or Argentina to Alaska, there is no location we won’t go in order to fulfill our angling and wing shooting desires. Destination travel is a great way to check off a bucket list item with a group of like-minded partners. The best part, you don’t have to worry about any of the travel arrangements or logistics. Just say yes, and leave the rest up to us.
Every winter, we pick locations across the country, and abroad, to host our existing and new clients. Some locations stay the same and others have been in “testing” for a few seasons to ensure they meet our expectations. What are our expectations?
- Abundant angling or wing shooting opportunities
- Professionalism and expertise in guiding
- Friendly and professional staff
- Overall experience to price point
Stay tuned for our updated destination travel locations for 2020. You won’t want to miss out on the opportunity of a lifetime.