The rains have came and instead of guiding everyday this week I have been cancelling and rescheduling trips. My biggest competition is Mother Nature and she always wins. We do need the rain though, it has been dry and unseasonably warm for April. Everything has been early this year. Fish spawns like the smallmouth bass have already ended. Striped bass run out of Buggs Island Lake hasn’t been like the previous years either. Warm weather and higher water temps have gotten them spawning a couple weeks earlier than normal. I hope this weather has slowed that to a crawl and the fish will be there the normal amount of time as previous years.
This past weekend I was at the South River Fly Expo in Waynesboro, VA. The forecast had attendance down but the weather was actually ok for the show. I met Pat Cohen which is one of the best fly tyers our sport has. Pat was there doing tying classes and he had some of his beautiful flies for sale. I left with a few of his flies. His spun deer hair bugs are the best I have ever seen. You should check out Pat’s website and I’m sure you can find some must have flies on it, https://www.rusuperfly.com/.
The day after the show I had planned to take Tommy Lawhorne part owner of the South River Fly Shop and Pat Cohen out. With all the rain that fell Sunday night it was questionable if we would fish at all. Pat mentioned he had not caught a musky and loves smallmouth bass fishing so it was clear to head to the James River. When we arrived Monday morning, the river was rising and a bit off color but still fishable, so we launched the drift boat. It wasn’t going well for either fish that morning, but found some spots the bass were holding out of the rising currents in the afternoon. After landing some smallies we turned our attention to the musky. The deep water wasn’t going to work with the poor clarity, so I focused on shallow current break areas where fish could see the fly. The muskies had moved into these spots likely to feed and get out of the hard current. After a missed attempt on the hook set and a musky follow a few minutes apart, Pat hooked up on his first musky. Pat was throwing a rod he built which was a 10wt Epic glass rod. It was a hell of a show watching him fight the 42 inch musky on a rod that was bent to the cork. After the show Pat put on Tommy got the itch and this was his first time fishing for musky. Next hole I could find with shallow water near a musky hole Tommy hooked up and landed his first as well, measuring 40 inches. A day that was very questionable turned into something spectacular. Congrats to both of them catching their first muskies on the fly and it was great to be a part of it!