Thursday, June 28, 2012

Harman's Getaway

The Start of a Fly Fisherman
It was time for a vacation finally.  The wife and her family wanted to take a vacation/short getaway to the mountains for some family time and relaxation.  I was put in charge of finding a nice spot that everyone could enjoy.  Well the spot that matched everyones needs pretty well came down to Harman's North Fork Cabins.  I got the opportunity to stay in this cabin during the Harman's North Fork Invitational with team WVAngler and was happy to have booked it again.  It offered a place where we all could relax, spend some time together, fish, hike, and just enjoy some piece in quiet next to a nice river with room for everyone in a beautiful cabin.   I gathered all my gear and the gear for anyone who wanted to use some and we took off for the long drive arriving in the evening on Thursday.  The air temps were a little hot and the flows were not the best for fishing but an early evening rain shower helped things out a good bit and helped
those mid 70 temps cool down a little.  My brother in law had wanted to try his hand at fly
fishing so on the way over had stopped and picked up a starter kit by Pflueger.  We took everything out strung it up got
him a few flies ready and were out the door on on the water. 
I struck the first evening by throwing a big streamer
 and was rewarded with a big fat 20 inch rainbow. 
TJ took the first evening getting comfortable with the fly
 rod and casting and such but no fish the first evening. 

Those First Fish on the Fly
The next day we got up early and hit the stream the fishing was slow again. The water had cooled some overnight and was just above 70.  The trout were a little more active and I missed a few fish early on.  By evening TJ had the hang of it for sure and his casting was improving.  After all that casting he was finally rewarded with his first smallie and his first fish on a fly rod.  He just missed a good trout being a little slow on the hook set and had another heart racing rejection as the trout gave it the long drift inspection.  That first real good taste really got him excitied and looking for more.  The smallies were on the take towards evening and I finished up with a nice which even gave a couple jumps during the fight.

Undewater Bow

The next day he tied on an olive woolybugger and went after smallies.  The hookset was on and he was into fish in no time.  Gave The wife the 3wt and let her chuck flies for a little while as well.  Its always nice to see new people take up a passion for fly fishing and land there first fish on a fly and get that desire to catch more fish and keep fishing harder and harder!  Sometimes a trip is not always about the fish you catch but the waters you share with others and the excitement they get out of the trip.  It turned out to be a great trip and a nice getwaway.  Harman's offers some nice cabins that have room for everyone and the peace and quiet you sometimes need for a trip to get away to.  They have 20 cabins overall 18 with very easy access to there stretch of stocked water.  Several cabins have hot tubs, wi-fi and some of the nicest porches to relax on!   Harman's has always been a friend of WVAngler and look forward to another nice trip back to there waters with the wife. The stretch of water there is teaming with great sized trout always ready for your offering if the water gets to warm there smallmouth are in pretty good numbers even some nice sized ones in the mix.  Plans are already being made to get on the water again and the passion is growing for sure!  The addiction continues!!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Buckets and Musky

Trailer load of limestone sand

June 9th started out with an early morning start from Wetzel County at 5AM.  The plan was to head to Elkins to meet Jonathan "Brookie" Paine and head to the Highland Scenic Highway.  First order was the Middle Fork of the Williams Bucket Brigade this year was the 5th year for the event.  The purpose of this project is to improve the pH of the Middle Fork of the Williams so that native brook trout will once again start thriving in the stream and reproducing in the stream.  This year there was a record reached with 12 tons of limestone being moved by buckets along a .25 mile trail to the dump site on a trib of the Middle Fork.  There was a great group of people there 105 total with several people from Wal-mart, several different TU chapters, WVDNR, and of course WVAngler.  You couldn't have asked for a nicer day started off a little cool but warmed up with sunny skies and no rain to let us get all the buckets carried down to the site.  Glad to have been apart of this great effort!

After the bucket brigade we decided that the flows were going to be a little tough to chase brook trout so we would head back to Elkins and break out the big stuff.  After a stop off at Castle Brookie we located a nice Old Town canoe from one of his work associates and headed off to the Tygart.  We were on the water in no time and the 10wt rod was ready to do some work.  The conditions were perfect and the water was clear and the sun was shining brightly.  We hit the water at about 3:30PM a time of day fishing can sometimes be tough.  Well I shuffled through the fly box and pulled out a Vermont Fly Guys fly the Maelstrom Whistler.  We were fishing a lot of structure when I noticed some blue gill in the shade next to a log.  One cast and the next thing I know wham its on.  I didn't get a look at the fish so was not even sure what I had, Paine yelled nice bass but the next thing we see is a toothy creature hooked to the fly.  A nice landing job by Jonathan and my first musky on the fly was in the boat a small 26 inch fish but a musky on the fly none the less  and my first musky landed on the fly rod!!
Echo 10wt, Cabelas RLS reel, and Vermont Fly Guys Fly

Harman's North Fork Invitational

Team WVAngler with Curtis Fleming of Fly Rod Chronicles
Recently was asked to be a part of Harman's North Fork Invitational.  Todd Harman has an amazing area in Cabins, WV and each year its the home of Harman's North Fork Invitational a fly fishing tournament bringing many professionals and armatures together to fish this event, people as far away as New Mexico and Idaho.  A part of this Curtis Fleming and his Fly Rod Chronicles crew is there filming the event to be a part of his great show on the outdoor channel.  As being the owner I got the opportunity to pick to people to fish for Team WVAngler and represent the website and the people of the WVAngler family.  The process of choosing to people was tough at first but two names kept coming to the top of the list.  The two names that kept coming to the top were Jonathan "Brookie" Paine and Zach "McFishin" Adkins (he really does have a real name besides McFishin).  These guys are fish bums in the true sense maybe the biggest fish bums in WV.  I think they would fish 27 hours a day if they could.  Having spent so much time on the water together I knew I was in good hands.

Team WVAngler ready to fish beat 3
Brookie getting a good drift on beat 3.
After an evening of introductions and checking out the water, going through flies and making sure they were debarbed the guys came up with a game plan to hit there first beat and a plan it ended up being!  There first beat was beat three a great section of water that contains a lot of run and fast water and some good pockets.  The way the beats and the tournament works is there were 16 teams and the river is broken down into 8 beats.  Each team will have 3 sessions in one of the 8 beats then the top 8 will move into the championship round.  A total of 7 fish can be scored for each beat.  They had the first session off they it allowed them to get get a feel for things and how the tournament worked.  Zach started things off fishing a dry fly and it did not take long at all to get into a fish.  Jonathan started off nymphing and was into fish fast as well.  A lot of people go into a tournament all hyped up and all serious well the cool thing about these guys they were just having a blast like it was another day on the water just having fun and catching fish!  They went back and forth tagging each other out to fish after they had caught a good fish.  It seemed like they had just started and wham before you knew it 7 fish were accounted for and in the net.  All fish were measured in centimeters in the beat they had a big fish of 55 and another at 50 so it put there total high on the board.  With an average fish of 43 and a total of 301 the guys were in one of the top spots after the first beat.  Team WVAngler was first seen as a few fish bums that played around on some website were now seen as serious fisherman that had heads rolling!  Finishing a first beat in only 30-40 minutes they were had people saying dang there already done they have seven fish wow! 
McFishin getting ready to release a beat 5 fish on camera
The evening brought beat 5 for the guys, this was the shortest beat on the river.  The water was slower with a big long slow run.  It started off a lot tougher than the first beat of the day but Zach started things off with a good 46 cm fish.  Jonathan followed suit by nymphing one up and landing another trout on the dry giving two more trout for the tally sheet.  The rule is if a you catch 4 trout and one guy catching 3 and the other catching just 1 it would be a disqualification so since Jonathan already had 2 fish in Zach had to catch one.  It was slow going at first thankfully some fish started to rise and on goes the dry fly it was definitely the start of March Brown time!  After several missed hook sets I think he was trying to fish the bassmaster invitational but something about a camera in front of you filming seems to get you a little on edge.  After a few tough misses Zach finally came through on camera for a top water take which ended up being the biggest fish of the beat a good 49 cm fish!  They fished hard till the end of the session with Zach taking one more trout on a dry fly.  Small browns were definitely taking flies on this beat!  Five fish with a 183 total put the guys in a good spot after the first day, 4th place with a 484 and ahead of several pro teams. 
Curtis Fleming and Fly Rod Chronicles the pressure of being on camera!

Zach with a solid 2 fly fish!
Jonathan with a good fish in beat 8!

The second day brought beat 8 for the team.  One of the first three beats in the tournament must be fished as a two fly.  If both flies are lost your done for the beat so fly selection and keeping your fly is key!  They went with two subsurface flies to start the day having the beat first thing in the morning, both using a soft hackle.  Beat 8 is a little unusual in the fact its up in the canyon and you have to drive to it.  The guys had not had a chance to check out the water so they got there first view of it when they hit it in the morning.  Paine got a good one in this section a 46, but also had to get a little wet making sure he never lost a fly, they were the only team to wet wade and it sure made swimming to retrieve a fly a little easier :).  Another 5 fish beat and a great showing on a two fly for the boys and they were looking great for making the finals where the scores start over and you get one beat to fish.

Live on WV MetroNews with Chris Lawrence
After all the scores were in and the dust settled the guys were left in 6th place and in beat 5 again.  They thought they would go for this beat on the river since they had already fished it once and had a feel for it.  So with a whole new strategy and a little longer on the water the guys armed themselves with a new game plan and a strategy to get themselves to the top of the leader board.  Of course the nymphmaster brookie comes through with a couple on the nymph right away which put Zach in the hot seat having to get some fish landed since brookie already had 2.  Big fish McFishin of course comes through again with another 52cm beast.  Beat 5 fished tough again for the guys a couple tough breaks on missed fish could have been a game changing story.  Barbless hooks made things interesting at times lot easier to lose a good fish that way but a lot better on the trout.  The guys fished the beat hard again and managed another 5 fish effort.  When all the dust settled several teams had there 7 fish accounted for so they knew they were in a little bit of trouble.  With a good effort the guys finished a very respectable 6th place not bad for a couple of fish bums from WV, top armatures of the tournament and ahead of several professionals.  Congrats also to Team DUSM Dustin and Scott WVAngler boys who fished just behind the guys.  Congrats also to Woody and Mark to good professional guys who took the top spot!  Lots of which were guides, or pros from places like New Mexico, Idaho, NC, PA, OH, VA, DC, and NJ.  Not a bad finish at all the guys definitely left with some respect for sure and definitely the respect of me and the appreciation of the whole WVAngler community for such a great effort!  Next year hopefully we they will be prepared for an even better finish because the prep work has already started!  Great event couldn't believe I had such a blast not even touching a fly rod the whole weekend.  Just being able to spend some time with the great people and blog back results and info when I could keep up with there fish catching skills was great!  Harman's is a top notch place to spend a few days in WV, Curtis and his crew are true professionals, and Mustard Stand has some tasty food!  Until next year the guys will be getting geared up and ready for another run at the championship.

Curtis Fleming doing a Team WVAngler interview