Thursday, July 11, 2019

Bucket list fishing destination - Virginia? You bet!

Virginia is a beautiful state to which tourist flock year round for it's history, scenery, beaches and mountain resorts, but would you put it on your bucket list as a top fishing destination? I may be a little biased, but for my money, Virginia has one of the most diversified and exceptional fisheries anywhere in the nation, and I've fished just about everything from east coast to west, north and south. You can fish pristine mountain headwaters for wild brook trout, a world class largemouth bass fishery at Smith Mountain Lake or the Chickahominy River, trophy catfish on the James and Potomac, 50+lb. rockfish/stripers in the Chesapeake Bay, or venture out into the blue water for sails, marlin, wahoo and more. My only dilemma is choosing what to fish whenever I head back down to visit family. I just haven't found any other place that offers such a broad range of exceptional fisheries. I often write about blue lining up in Jefferson National Forest or chasing big blue cats on the James, but these just scratch the surface.

One could easily plan a week long, source to sea fishing trip on a very modest budget. Nonresident licensing fees are pretty reasonable, and permits to fish the federal lands are free. There's ample camping throughout the state in the numerous state and national parks.

You'll find headwaters of the James River and Shenandoah Rivers in the western mountains, with cool spring fed streams and tributaries that fish well year round for trout, while the main rivers also hold smallies, largemouth, muskies and more. I take my 2wt glass rod and run the fire roads up into locations where you can fish all day and never see another human being, or drop my yak into the South Fork of the Shenandoah to chase smallmouth and the elusive muskies. My favorite shop in the Valley is Mossy Creek FlyFishing, and their site provides a wealth of information.

If trophy largemouth is your thing, plan a day on either Smith Mountain Lake (frequent stop on the pro tours) or Lake Anna. Both have the added bonus of landlocked stripers as well. To the far south, you have the Roanoke River/Kerr Reservoir and Lake Gaston. All of these are large bodies of water for which a boat or kayak would be needed, and there are plenty of rentals available if you don't bring your own, as well a fishing guides who will provide everything you need, most importantly their knowledge of the local waters, for your outing.

As you head down into the tidal regions, particularly the lower James below Richmond, trophy blue cats await pretty much year round. Did I mention that there are bass in the high single to double digits on the Chickahominy River? Though I grew up on the Rappahannock River, I've still got to give the nod to the mighty James. While you're in the area, spend some time in Richmond itself. The Civil War history, brew pubs, and restaurants in the old tobacco warehouse district shouldn't be missed.

Finish your trip off in the salt, either in the Chesapeake Bay or booking a trip out of the VA Beach area for some screaming drags on big pelagic beasts. The early spring and late fall to winter provide shore and kayak anglers shots at rockfish/stripers into the 50+lb. range, and summertime brings flounder, croaker, spot, specs and increasingly reds and cobia. There's a little bit of everything. Again, you can shorten the learning curve by booking a guide.   

The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is a great place to go for both ideas and all the information on licensing, etc. I'm more than happy to point people in the direction of some of my favorite shops, guides and locations.   

Again, I've only just put a dent in what's available to fish in Virginia. I always look forward to getting back down and packing as much as I can into every free minute, and never have close to enough time. What are you waiting for? Load up the truck, the camper or whatever, throw the yaks on top, and head to Virginia for a week of fishing!

Friday, July 5, 2019

FlipRocks - A new option when wet wading, chillin' on the boat, or just around town.

I recently came across a post on The Fly Fishing Community about wet wading in neoprenes, socks or some combination there of. Well, this season I've been wearing FlipRocks much of the time, so dilemna solved. The guys behind FlipRocks have taken our favorite summer footwear, flip flops or sandals, and added a removable base with rubber, felt, micro-studded and cleated options. You can even do a Rock Treads bottom! I was surprised at how grippy the changeable soles are. You really have to tug to get them off, so there is no worry about an inadvertent loss of a sole. The FlipRock model shown are super comfortable, have a toe protector and a back heal strap which I love. I've been wading, kayaking boating and just running around town in them all summer. My wading boots have largely sat in the back of my truck. They make a sandal model as well. If you looking for a do-it-all summer footwear, give FlipRocks a go!