There they be!

“They’re porpoising,” I thought to myself. “Jesus, they are everywhere!”

I decided to cast my rope fly right in between two of the shapes that had just risen out of the water and dove back into to darkness of the deep cove. Slowly I stripped in the fly; strip, pause, strip, pause, strip, strip, strip, pause… then all Hell broke loose!

“Holy Shit,” I thought to myself, “That is a dinosaur! Do Not Fuck This Up, Slow And Steady, Do Not Give It Any Chance To Throw The Fly!”

Keeping the slack out of my fly line, turning the my rod against the way the fish was trying to go, keeping the line tight as the fish went aerial, slowly and steadily stripping in line I came to face to face with a prehistoric nightmare fish, a true monster with the teeth to prove it – I had finally caught a Gar! Sorry that I am not talking about a musky, I wish I was, but it was most definitely a Gar and it was the biggest fish I have caught to date – a whopping 39 inches (one inch away from a citation trophy fish).

Gar fishing for the most part is frown upon in both the spinning and fly fishing communities, Realistically the only fishermen that fish for Gar on a constant basis are bow fishermen. I think the main stigma of fishing for gar by both spin and fly fishermen comes from the fact that hooking a gar is damn near impossible, their beaks are almost complete bone and the only way to actually hook them is to let them run for 20 or so yards and swallow the lure/fly, then you can hook them.

The only other way to fish for gar is to use a rope fly, it is a simple thing really; to make one use a 2 to 10 inch nylon rope that has been unbraided and combed out, doubled the rope in a small key chain ring, and secured using several wraps of gsp , then coat the wraps with head cement.  Basically what these flies do is Velcro the mouth of a gar shut, entangling them so there is little chance of them getting away (however if you don’t let them run first and automatically try to “set the hook”, you will pull the rope flies clean out of their beaks).

Honestly I think the next part is what really makes spin and fly fishermen not want to catch these fish. Once you get the gar in the net and next to boat, you have to get the rope fly untangled and out of it’s mouth. Sounds easy enough… um no it is not. Gar have hundreds of razor sharp teeth, their scales are like razors, and they just don’t sit there all nice as you try to get the fly out of their mouth, to be honest you can see how pissed off they are just by looking into their black eyes… they want to bite the shit out of you. Everything about a gar makes them very unfriendly to spin and fly fishermen.

So how the hell do you get a rope fly out of a gar’s mouth? Well you have to be very careful and patient. First thing you need to do before going gar fishing is to go your local hardware store and buy a crowbar, a pair of very longnose pliers, and some stout leather gloves. Granted you only need one of the gloves, the one that you will be holding the fish with, but you definitely need them, believe me I know! I didn’t use a pair of gloves one time and my hand felt like it had paper cuts all over the palm and fingers of my hand. Trust me; use gloves!

Once you net a gar leaving them in the net like you would a musky, take the crowbar and pry open its mouth (aim for the back part of the mouth  where the teeth are the smallest. After you get the crowbar in its mouth and pry it open it is time to try and get the rope untangled. You can use the pliers to try and pull the tangles out, however I have found that if you just use your glove free hand you can get the rope fly out faster, but once again remember these fish are out to bite the shit out of you, you have just became their nemesis. Once they are free of the rope fly, put on the other glove, pick the gar out of the net, get a quick picture, then release them quickly. Always measure them in the water before picking them up, if they are close to citation try and go to a dock or land to get the photo of the gar’s measurement. Once again, take my word, there is nothing scarier than a gar flopping in your boat, teeth just chopping away and you trying to get the damn thing out of your boat or back on to the bump board for a measurement.

So why should an angler fish for gar? Well it is like musky fishing; realistically you are not fishing, instead you are hunting a fish. You have to spot them, cast with precision, and try not to spook them all at the same time. Not to mention watching a gar follow your fly up to your boat might be one of the coolest things ever to watch. I thought initially that these fish were spooked by boats, nope I was wrong. Not to mention there is something primal about catching a fish that is so prehistoric, to see it close and personal, they are truly a wonder of the world. Plus here in the lower Eastern United States what else are you going to fish for that is so close to a musky? 

Taking A Road I Never Thought To Take

So odds are you know that I love fly fishing and everything about fly fishing. My original goal for this website was to have an up to date site that would educate fly fishermen about streams located in Virginia. However since that time I have moved to Georgia for my job. Currently I am working on exploring and gathering photos of streams here in Georgia. Which to my surprise is loaded with excellent trout water, not to mention a plethora of other freshwater fish, and is only hours away from some really good musky water. 

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With this being said, the website is going to now be about fly fishing here in the South East, I am not going to limit it to Virginia any longer. Also I am going to start up my own home business, currently I am in the works to obtain my home business license in order to do so. What I will be offering is not something that most local fly shops offer; one on one fly tying classes, a person to professionally take photos of your own flies and a way to test them out, and I will become a fly fishing guide (only one day a week).

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Im going to break down my fly tying classes into hour long sessions, these classes will be from 8am -12 pm during the week and weekend (and maybe some evenings on Mondays) – appointment only. Based on your skill level, what you want to learn, and what style you fish I will assess how to proceed. I want all of you to be able to learn what you need to learn to up your fishing game and save some money in the process. I will be teaching, dry flies, nymphs, streamers, top water bugs, and how to make your own brushes. After we are done we will test them out in my fly tester tank to see exactly how they swim. Afterwards, if you want, we can take photos or videos of your fly so that you can spread them across social media. 

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Also I am going to offer professional photography for fly tiers that are wanting to sell/show off their very own creations. As we all know flies can be small and flies can be large, but getting that perfect shot of a fly is often impossible without the right equipment. Luckily I have that equipment and I am here to help. We will take multiple shots of your fly using a light box and holder, and we will use my fly tester tank so that you can have a photograph of what they look like in a stream. I can also do videos of these flies for you to have as well. 

Finally, and I am very hesitant to undertake this, I am going to start guiding. However my only two requirements will be that the person I am guiding have their own pair of waders and wading boots and be above the age of 21. From there I will take you out for a full day or half a day on to a stream, I will be offering this service to beginners up to advanced fly fishermen. Basically we will communicate before the day comes to go out and discuss what you know and what you want to learn. After we do this we will book you a date (only on Mondays, sorry I work during the week), and we will meet up at a designated location to start your lesson. Also please note, while I consider myself a very good fly fishermen, my techniques might not be conventional as seen in A River Runs Through It. Instead I will teach you the tools to fish and catch fish in waters that you might have never fished because of terrain and foliage. Finally, once I acquire my captains licenses I will take a person (sorry only one person) out on my FlyCraft Stealth on float trips, but this will be a future endeavor.

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I will let everyone know when this begins and when I will start taking appointments.

Thanks,

Patrick 

The Calling

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Ever since I was a little boy I felt this need for something, it was not something physical or mental (i.e. some new toy, gadget, piece of clothing, girlfriend, or even a since of belonging). This need has carried on throughout my life, trying to piece out exactly what it is has been a rough go. Growing up on a dairy farm in a small Southwestern Virginia town, where your nearest neighbor is three miles down the road, and on the other side of the hill, was a bit difficult. Because of this I really didn’t have many friends until I hit school age, even then it was still hard being socially adept. I instead loved those old fishermen that fished my families farm pond, they were my best friends. One thing of note: I was always horrible at sports and I never had that father that was a hunter – we were dedicated farmers. Literally ever day of my early life was spent in this fashion; wake up at 4 am to milk, 6:30 am go home and take a shower, eat breakfast, then go to school. Once school was over I would come home and help Dad finish milking, after that we would go home for dinner. Depending on what season it was dictated what we did after. During the summer time a lot of time after dinner was spent in the hay fields, fall was spent cutting wood or silage time, winter was spent bringing in wood and watching tv, spring was planting time and repairing things that were damaged. 

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Now the one reprieve I got was the occasion to fish at our families bass pond, these were the times that I always looked forward to. Whether with my dads friends or not, I spent a lot of free time there, until I could read the water, knowing every inch of it. This was until I realized I was a becoming a man and found girls. Now I said before my father was not a hunter, but what I also failed to mention was he was not a trout fisherman, he only liked to fish for bass and crappie. My dad’s passion was working on cars and trucks, fixing them up, and selling them. Needless to say I do not have that passion. So for the longest time spin fishing for bass was my passion, but it still seemed like I had a need for something regardless.

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One summer in college I was working for a company that sprayed the undergrowth under power lines and it was there in Boone, NC I found what I had been needing in my life. Ok so a better way of saying of what I was needing is more akin to what we Catholic’s call a calling. My calling was fly fishing. In Boone, NC I witnessed for the first time someone fly fishing on a small creek near where we were working. Between the mountains, standing in a small creek, I saw a man casting the traditional dry fly casts and I became enamored by the simplicity and zen like qualities of what he was doing. It was like watching a craftsman at his trade, or someone doing tai chi, or a yogi… it was a kind of magic. My heart and soul yearned for this one thing, it felt like I just found the love of my life, my partner that would never leave me. 

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Over the next few months, after I purchased my first fly rod and reel, my love of affair with fly fishing blossomed, but just like any relationship it was odd and clunky. At first it was like that mysterious sensation that you have when you are dating someone new; you can not wait to see her, to breath her, to feel her. Then when it is time to go out on your date you find that you are as nervous as a new born pup, you fumble, you stumble, and sometimes you fall. I fell a lot.

Throughout college I continued at fly fishing, often secretly because it was my alone time. Then after graduation the railroad came. Needless to say that a lot of changes came about. Being on 24 hour call really hurt my fishing time, not to mention adjusting to having people around all of the time to having no one around was a bit daunting. I had became a social person, but now it felt like I was having to relearn that trait again or else become a recluse. I still kept at fly fishing when I could, but those times were cut to almost non-existence. 

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Finally after I got a regular shift job with the railroad I decided to move closer to home, so I moved to Blacksburg, VA. It is such a fun town, one that I relearned how to be social in and I was able to hone in my skills as a fly fisherman, it reminded a lot of Boone, NC were my calling was recognized. It was also during this time that I decided that I wanted to learn how to tie flies. After watching several youtube videos, and going to Tangent Outfitters fly tying 101 class the other part of my calling was fulfilled. 

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My mind, body, and soul seemed to just fit together perfectly together, it was like my third eye had been opened, it felt like I was finally in my true skin. Even when stress would enter my life fly fishing and fly tying were my armor from that stress. Ok to be fair, it wasn’t just fly fishing and fly tying, it was the exploring part of fly fishing that also set my heart afire. Exploring the mountains, and valleys of Virginia for new water was in itself enticing. I have probably seen more of the off beaten paths in Virginia then most will ever see and that makes my soul smile. 

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Now that I find myself in another state I long for those mountains and rivers of Virginia, they haunt me daily. Luckily the railroad didn’t move us to far from home. I can still come home on weekends to fish for my beloved brookies, rainbows, browns, smallies, and muskies.

Still though, there seems to be a golden shore to be seen out of the Peach state. Georgia has such promise, especially in regards to the Chattahoochee and for its streams in the northern part of the state. It just makes me once again hit the open roads on my days off, searching for those  off beaten paths. It also gives my calling more of a calling then ever, with this website and with the help of the local Trout Unlimited here, maybe I can help this region grow to its fullest.

To Live Is An Awful Big Adventure

Good grief I feel like I am getting older and older everyday, everything just hurts more and more. 

“God I need some Advil,” I think to myself.

Since I have moved to Atlanta I swear my bones are hating the humidity. What I thought might have been an old injury from falling at a creek in Virginia just before I moved here is actually arthritis… great. Hey that is just the price we pay for getting older I guess. But can we let that shit get us down, no. Sometimes in life you just have to keep believing, never let yourself give up. Thus it is with old outdoorsmen, I really don’t even classify myself strictly as a fly fisherman anymore… nature is my home; my veins are the creeks and rivers, the water is my blood. the mountains and forests are my bones, muscles, and my heart… most of all they are my heart.

Once upon a time, long ago, I promised myself that I would live my life with every step, that I would be mindful of each step, that I would smile with each breath. Over the years of constant drama – whether it was moving, stress from work, relationships ending – I lost touch with not only this promise, but also who I was down to my old bones. Now I come full circle and realized once again who I am and what makes me want to live. Life is precious, but to truly enjoy it you must live and you must share it. We are all stewards of life, but most of all of we all have a bit of Peter Pan in us that refuses to grow up, to have such wonderful adventures. My adventures are exploring, fishing, sharing my love of fishing, and preserving what makes me who I am so that others like myself can also enjoy them. 

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So why the hell am I being so philosophic on a website dedicated to promoting fly fishing here in the Southeastern US, well the mission statement says it all… I am dedicated to promoting… this is promoting. Sometimes people need a swift kick in the ass to remind them that we all have a purpose, a motto, something that we live and die by, something that makes us smile as we do it. What makes me feel alive is being outdoors, some people do not like certain aspects of being outdoors, they can not let go of the connection to the modern technological world for five minutes, much less an entire day. Or you have those that need the outdoors to calm the demons in their mind. So I try to promote fly fishing to see if this will help them to find their purpose. Some people complain that I put too much information on this website, that they fucking hate that I am giving away my knowledge to total strangers that could lead to heavier pressure on streams… well so be it. If I can help one person to get outside, to connect to their purpose that they might have never found without my help then all of the naysayers words mean nothing to me. 

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Also If I can get one person to clean up their trash on a stream bank, to leave no trace then once again my motto is being fulfilled. Fly fishermen love their water’s, but they most of all love clean water. Look you don’t have to join Trout Unlimited or any other organization, I know I stress good habitats on here a lot, and as a member of Trout Unlimited I mention the organization a lot. However you don’t have to join to be a good steward of our waters. But always be mindful that you are a steward, never slack in this purpose. If you see someone else’s trash pick it up and bag it, don’t be a wuss if you see someone leaving their trash behind, harass them to leave no trace. If they are still a douche pick it up yourself and carry it out. You are a steward after all. 

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Remember always that you are alive, listen to Peter once in awhile, take a leap, go on a wonderful adventure. Most of all smile and be at peace. 

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Moving Time

It is with a deep regret that I must inform you that soon I will no longer reside in Virginia. Unfortunately my present employer has decided that our operations will be better conducted in Atlantla, Ga; even though my opinions differ from theirs i will follow their lead and follow them to Georgia. However this occurrence will not shut down this site.

I have loved the great state of Virginia for my entire life but in to quote Winston Churchill “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” I do not treat this move as a success or failure; but i see that I must have the courage to continue on and on; promoting my love for fly fishing has been one of things that has brought me the most comfort in my life, even when my life seems to be be complete shit.

As the good Lord wills it, my life must change and i must change with it. So come May 2018 Flybum Outdoors will start promoting everything fly fishing here in South East United States. I will still keep up all of my Virginia Stream guides, also i will still try to up date them as much as possible. However my new focus will be on North Georgia, Eastern Tennessee, and Southwestern South Carolina, and Southwestern North Carolina.

I implore all of you that know these areas to contact to meet, I would love all of the information and knowledge that you could provide me in helping. Also i would love to know what else you would like to see on this website. after making the new Roanoke Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited’s website i have had an idea for fly tying tutorials and for new blogs.

I general hope is that all of you will continue to use this site as a general reference for everything fly fishing related in the South Eastern United States, mainly Virginia.

Cheers to you all,

Patrick Frazier

 

 

“All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy”

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So I guess I need to point this out to you the readers; this blog is usually not kid friendly… there will be foul language involved. What can I say? I am a fisherman, we cuss a lot, and those that say that they don’t, well they are liars. Oh, also fishermen are usually liars as well… just saying.

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Anyways, as an avid winter fly fisherman what the hell do I do when every single creek in your area is frozen? Well you could try to stay inside with your significant other, this is all nice and stuff but eventually you’re going to in up like Jack from The Shining. You can tie flies, this is probably the best thing to do for both your sanity and preparing for the eventual thaw. Or you can travel to new places that are within a couple hours from your house and try out new streams. Both of the latter options are probably the best in my opinion. I love my girlfriend to death, but there are only so many girly shows I can binge watch on Netflix with her, and the house can only be so clean.

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I like to call this frozen time my test fly season. I tie up a bunch of flies that I have never used so that when the thaw comes and none of my regular flies are working I have something to fall back to. Most of the time these flies are crap and do not produce, but every once in a while there some flies that I never used that do surprisingly well. If you have been following my Instagram page (if you’re not the shame on you) you will notice I have been on a strong euro nymph kick lately. One of the flies that I had never used before was a Perdigon (I still do not know how to pronounce this fly), but I tied up one dozen of them- mainly because they are super easy to tie- then I went out to a local stream that had just been stocked. The Perdigon killed it, I promise I am not lying about this, I caught 15 fish in total off of this fly in a matter of two hours. I literally had to make myself stop fishing because it didn’t seem fair anymore. Needless to say, Perdigons will be a stable in my fly box now. So I recommend going on YouTube and just searching out fly patterns, look for quality videos and you will be surprised by what you find.

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Realistically not all streams in your area will be frozen, it might be cold “AF” outside, but not all streams will be frozen. Venture out, find some new streams, or explore old streams via the road. As fishermen we often neglect what hunters to do during the summer time, we do not scout spots out. However we should, by we I mean you should. I do this quite often during the winter months and find some seriously good water while the rest of you bitch about not being able to fish. Also if you have a kayak/boat/raft and the proper equipment, go Musky or Walleye fishing, winter is the time that these fish can and should be fished.IMG_0131

Well I guess this is also the time to tell you that I have taken on a new role; As of January 1, 2018; I became the new President of the Roanoke Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited. I have a lot of serious goals that I am trying to accomplish in regards to the chapter; a younger, more diverse group, social gatherings, protecting our delayed harvest sections here in Roanoke from poachers, and in short making the Roanoke Valley into one of the top destinations for anglers in Virginia. Needless to say I am going to have my hands full; I started and Instagram page for the Chapter (roanoke_valley_trout_unlimited), I am posting articles on their fb page everyday (https://www.facebook.com/Roanoke-Valley-Trout-Unlimited-635544369915965/) along with updating the fb calendar of events, and I am helping design a new website for the chapter that is very similar to this one.

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Honestly if you have not joined TU now is the time to do it, if you think it has been lacking in anyway then you should join and try to help change it. I wouldn’t try to sell you on something I don’t believe in, but our chapter does a lot of things that help out Southwestern Virginia and the Roanoke Valley, plus the knowledge of fishing in the chapter is amazing. So this will be my first and final ploy to get you to join TU on this website, just do it… there is a new promotion to join for $17.50 for a year, it’s less than a case of IPA beer. At the very least go check out the Facebook page, the Instagram page, or come out to one of our Open Fly Tying Nights at Ballast Point in Daleville (check the even page on Facebook for dates and times).

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Master Angler Award

“Research is the highest form of adoration”
― Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

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As most of you know I have been working my ass off to try and get my Master of Angler award from the State of Virginia, but apparently the fishing gods hate me-I haven’t caught a citation since I started my attempt at this. Truth be told, I’m using the photo method because I am not going to kill a fish just to have it weighted, even though I probably would have already had a couple rainbow trout and smallmouth citations if I would have done it this way. Eh, what can I say, I am a catch and release angler to the bone.

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But with that all being said, I have come up with some pretty useful ways of doing research using statistics off of the VDGIF website. If you do not know this, VDGIF keeps track of every citation fish that is mailed in, what waterway they were caught in, their length, and if applicable what the fish weighted. For people like myself that have never Gar fished in my life, having all of this information available is invaluable. A prime example of this is the following spread sheet I done on all of the trout citations for last year (the spread sheet does not include lakes, ponds, private waters, or reservoirs).

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River Brook Brown Rainbow
Piney River 1 0 0
Cripple Creek 16 1 82
Bullpasture 17 0 7
Roanoke River 38 0 17
Northwest 2 0 3
Runnett Bag 1 0 0
Smith 26 0 1
Tinker 16 0 7
Hawksbill 4 0 2
North 19 0 0
Little Indian 1 0 0
NF Shenandoah 6 0 0
Goose 1 1 1
Barbours 15 0 0
NF Holston 3 0 0
Pigg 5 0 12
Jennings 15 3 0
Big Wilson 9 0 0
Jackson 11 0 2
South 13 0 4
Crooked 32 19 16
Robinson 8 0 1
Mill 3 0 4
Back 10 0 1
Stoney 4 0 3
Tye 4 2 0
Big Tumbling 23 7 18
Craig 2 0 0
Cowpasture 4 0 0
Dan 1 0 0
Rockfish 1 0 0
SF Shenandoah 1 0 0
MF Holston 1 1 1
Potts 0 3 1
Big Stoney 0 0 12
SF Holston 0 0 2
Cedar 0 0 9
Maury 0 0 1
Little 0 0 1
Dismal 0 0 1
Big Reed Island 0 0 1
Total Citations 313 37 210

 

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So by using this information; if you are wanting a rainbow or brook citation and are not willing to pay to fish then the Roanoke River is clearly your best chance. For browns your best choices are Jennings and Potts Creek. However there are anomalies like the SF of the Holston, the South River in Waynesboro, and Mossy Creek; rather no citations are being reported or this information is being skewed for some unknown reason.

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However following the same lines as I have done with the trout citations, a person could create a spread sheet for each of the following year’s citations on any species of trophy fish here in Virginia and have a good idea where to find these trophy fish. But there is one tiny problem, even if you are to narrow down where these fish are, you must do your research on how to catch these fish. I promise you, eventually your due diligence will pay off.

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P.S. Another good source of information for citations are the local fishing shops. Look at photo boards, talk to the locals.

 

Master Angler Awards

Master Angler Awards PinThe admirable ranking of “Master Angler” is bestowed upon individuals with talent enough to land trophy-size fish of different species. When an angler catches 5 trophy-size fish of different species (see Trophy Freshwater Fish Size Chart), he/she is automatically recognized as a Master Angler I. There are 4 successive levels of Master Angler recognition. To ascend in rank the angler must catch 5 different trophy-size fish for each level of recognition. At each level the angler will receive a different Master Angler certificate and patch. There is no separate application to fill out. Our computers count the number and type of trophy fish each angler registers and lets us know when someone qualifies.

  1. Master Angler I = 5 trophy fish of different species
  2. Master Angler II = 10 trophy fish of different species
  3. Master Angler III = 15 trophy fish of different species
  4. Master Angler IV = 20 trophy fish of different species

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Trophy Fish Size Chart

Species Weight Length
Largemouth Bass 8 lbs. 22
Smallmouth Bass 5 lbs. 20
Crappie 2 lbs. 15
Rock Bass 1 lb. 12
Sunfish 1 lb. 11
White Bass 2 lbs. 8 oz. 18
Striped Bass 20 lbs. 37
Hybrid Striped Bass** 8 lbs. 24
White Perch 1 lb, 4 oz. 13
Channel Catfish 12 lbs. 30
Blue Catfish 30 lbs. 38
Flathead Catfish 25 lbs. 40
Rainbow Trout 4 lbs. 22
Brook Trout 2 lbs. 16
Brown Trout 5 lbs. 25
Chain Pickerel 4 lbs. 24
Muskellunge 15 lbs. 40
Northern Pike 6 lbs. 30
Walleye 5 lbs. 25
Sauger* 2 lbs. 18
Yellow Perch 1 lb. 4 oz. 12
Gar 10 lbs. 40
Bowfin 10 lbs. 30
Carp 20 lbs. 34
Freshwater Drum 6 lbs. 24
  • * Clinch and Powell rivers only
  • ** Claytor and Flannagan reservoirs only

Carp Time is the Right Time!

It is apparent by looking at social media that Carp Time is the Right Time! For once I am totally in agreement with social media, fly fishing for carp is by far one of the most excited and most rewarding experiences a fly fisherman can have. For everyone that thinks that carp are a trash fish, not worth your time, please continue to think this so that I can fish them in your stead. But for those that already know how fun these fish are let’s take a moment and all agree that when you set the hook on a carp they sound like R2-D2 screaming. Ok, so they don’t literally make that sound, but I swear in my head, that is sound I always imagine them making when I set the hook.

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Disclaimer: I am not expert on fishing for carp, I am a novice!

Here are some of the challenges you will experience if you have never fly fished for carp:

  1. Not using the proper rod can be disastrous.
  2. Not using the proper leader can be disastrous.
  3. Not using the proper tippet can be disastrous.
  4. They are easily spooked.
  5. They can see you coming.
  6. They can hear you coming.
  7. They put off a pheromone to warn other carp around them that there is danger.
  8. They stink.
  9. They will slim you.
  10. You must be able to cast to them accurately.
  11. They always swallow your fly; you will need forceps or barbless flies.
  12. You’ll never truly know what fly they are feeding on; they eat everything.
  13. You will get skunked fishing for carp.

So why are they so much fun?

Remember the biggest brown trout or small mouth bass that you ever caught; remember the fight that they put up. Remember how your line reel screamed as that fish tried to muscle towards its freedom.  Now remember that pure joy when you finally netted that beast. This, my friend, is why carp on the fly has been getting so much attention. Carp are powerhouse fish- even the smallest will probably take you to your backing like a big trout or bass will do- you will have to fight them every step of the way to shore/boat. These fish get big, really big! Good luck if you are using a traditional trout net, because these fish will probably not fit into one of those.

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Okay, okay, so maybe you are one of those that do not care for the fight that these fish display, nor how big they really can get. Instead you are more of technical fly fisherman; you dream of the perfect stalk, then the perfect cast, followed by a perfect mend, then a tight line, finished by the perfect take! Well carp do not suffer fools; they require all of the action and precision that a technical fly fisherman love about the sport and more.

Going back to the disclaimer; I am a novice when it comes to fly fishing for carp, but I am not a novice when it comes to fly fishing in general.  Fly fishing for carp is a very humbling experience to say the least. You will have to be able to read water, stalk carp, and be very sneaky; the slightest noise or shadow will send these fish racing away. Also of note: carp often feed in packs and let out a pheromone when they sense danger warning the other carp nearby. If you scare one you scare the whole pod away as well. Well shit! Yep, even if you are good at reading, stalking, and being sneaky, you will have to choose the perfect fly, be able to sight cast with precision (within one foot in front of the fish), then you will have to slowly get your line tight, and patiently wait on the slightest tug (unless you are using a strike indicator, which can also be disastrous if it spooks the carp). Well SHIT! Like I said, these fish are a technical fly fisherman’s dream come true. Ultimately if your fly line, leader, or tippet touch these fish, if your fly line or fly makes too much noise hitting the water’s surface, if you are lazy, impatient, and do not respond to the slightest take all of the carp you were fishing for will disappear into a big cloud of mud. WELL SHIT!

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Honestly it blows my mind when someone one (spin fisherman and/or fly fisherman) says they wouldn’t fish for carp. I always hear, “ugh, I wouldn’t eat them; why are you fishing for those fish?” Who the hell cares if they are not desirable to eat! When was the last time you went fishing solely for the purpose of catching to keep?  Let’s be honest, you never went to catch to keep, you went fishing to catch fish- to experience the fight. If you want fish to eat, save yourself money on a fishing license and go buy a fish at the local supermarket.  Carp fishing will not only humble you; it will make you into a better technical angler, rewarding you with the fight of a life time-that you earned- every time you hook into a carp.

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P.S. If you are still not impressed with carp, please continue to not fish for them. It makes fishing a heck of a lot easier when I am not elbow to elbow with people.

P.P.S If you are interested in carp on the fly then I suggest you read/buy this book: Carp on the Fly: A flyfishing guide by Barry Reynolds, John Berryman, and Brad Befus

 

Game Plan for Summer 2017

Oh the changing of the seasons, I cannot explain to you how eager I have been for summer weather. To hell with Fall, Winter, and Spring! This past trout season has been one of my worst; from very crowded streams, to piss poor stocking by the VDGIF, and snapping the tip off of my Recon rod, I am very ready for warm water fishing. I haven’t given up on trout altogether, but there is some remarkable feeling about being out on a kayak in the middle of the river, fishing for various fish, that I have been missing since last Fall.

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Luckily here in the Roanoke Valley the capability for kayak fishing and warm water fishing is outstanding. Not only do we have the Roanoke River right in our back yard, but we also have the New River, the James River, Smith Mountain Lake, Claytor Lake, Carvins Cove, and several large streams within a reasonable driving range, that hold a large variety of warm water fish. I am stoked to say the least.

This summer I am dedicating my time to knocking out as many warm water “Trophy-sized fish” as I can in order to get my Master Angler award from the state of Virginia. If you have never checked out this program that the state of Virginia is offering you should, it seems like an exceptional way to get Virginian’s fishermen, which are in a set selection of fish, to fish for other species around the state. The only rule that I am imposing on myself for this goal is that I can only achieve this award by using fly fishing gear only. Sorry spin fishermen I will never go back to the dark side of fishing again.

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After studying the criteria for Virginia’s “Trophy-sized fish” I came to the realization that several levels of the Master Angler Award can definitely be achieved by a fisherman here in the Roanoke Valley with very little travel involved. The only exception will probably be trout; more than likely a person will have to travel to a spring creek or a mountain river (Jackson River or North River) in order to find a large trout during the summer months.

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So here are my ideas (feel free to correct me if I am wrong or if I am missing anything):

Smallmouth Bass: New River or the James River

Largemouth Bass: Local Ponds, Claytor Lake, and Smith Mountain Lake

Striped Bass: Smith Mountain Lake and Roanoke River

Hybrid Striped Bass: Claytor Lake

Rock Bass: New River, the James River, Smith Mountain Lake, and Claytor Lake

White Bass: Smith Mountain Lake

Chain Pickerel: Pandapas Pond and maybe Carvins Cove (I will need to research Carvins Cove more)

Crappie: the New River and the James River

Musky: New River or the James River (this I will have to watch because of water temps, I don’t want to kill them)

Sunfish: Any stream or river around Roanoke

Carp: Any river or lake around Roanoke

Walleye: the New River, the James River, the Staunton River (the Staunton River is 1 hour 40 mins away from Roanoke)

Brook Trout: holed up, big brookies stocked in the Roanoke River. Also any state fee fishing area (i.e. Crooked Creek or Wilson Creek)

Brown Trout: Mossy Creek and the North River in Harrisburg. Any river that might have hold overs in it, and also any state fee fishing area (i.e. Crooked Creek or Wilson Creek)

Rainbow Trout: Mossy Creek and any stream/river that might have hold overs. Also any state fee fishing area (i.e. Crooked Creek or Wilson Creek).

Hopefully by the end of the Summer I will have achieved at least one level, maybe even two. Even if I do not achieve any levels this summer, I am going to fun, challenge myself, and better my current knowledge as a fisherman here in Virginia and I implore each of my readers to do the same this summer. If you do not currently live here in Virginia check your current state’s programs, hopefully they will have something similar to this program.

 

Master Angler Program

Trophy Fish Size Chart