I was as excited about fly fishing the Smith River as I was about deer hunting. The Smith River is one of Virginia's premier trout rivers. It is about 20 miles long and contains a great population of native brown trout. I've read that some of these brown trout are trophy size, approaching ten pounds. They also stock rainbow trout a few times a year.
Since I only had one day to fish and was not familiar with the river, I contacted the local Trout Unlimited Chapter for some information. Boy are those guys nice! They provided me with some great information regarding what fly's to use and where to go. One of the men even sent me some maps with river access points marked. I was amazed at how friendly they were!
Using the Information they gave me and Google maps I chose what looked like a good spot for me. Although, I knew it wouldn't matter a whole lot. I haven't fly fished in about fifteen years. I knew that most of my day would be spent relearning how to get the fly where I wanted. I did purchase a nice pair of neoprene waders and was looking forward to trying them out for the first time.
Disaster struck my fishing trip the moment I left my in-laws house early Sunday morning. By habit I locked the door behind me, locking my waders inside. I don't have a key to their house. It was very early (for my in-laws). I knew that they would not be up for another three hours or more. Plus, my Mother-in-law was recovering from surgery. This coupled with the desire to be a good guest and the fear that they would hate me forever kept me from ringing to door bell.
|The PhilPott Dam|
I knew my morning fishing was going to be a bust. As I kicked myself for not bringing my spinning gear, I made my way to the river. I could at least scout out good places for the afternoon. I followed the river all the way up to the dam. Learning a little about the lay of the land.
I quickly realized that when they say the Smith River is "clean and clear" they mean "clean and clear for a southern river." By its description on the web I was expecting something that you may see out west. You know, pristine, unpolluted, crystal clear water. This simply is not the case. There is a surprising amount of trash in and around the river. I lost count of the tires and car parts on the bottom. I even saw an old carousel horse. The banks were like a dump, literally. I saw multiple oil slicks where it was seeping into the river from the soil. It made me admire and feel sorry for the Smith River Chapter of Trout Unlimited. They really have an uphill battle! You can tell that the population that lives around the river does not care about it. I will say the farther up you go, the better it gets. Just below the dam is absolutely beautiful!
|Below the dam a great herring out fishes me.|
After church and Sunday meal, I went back out. Fully prepared with waders and a spot picked out. I really enjoyed wading in the river. It was COLD, but my neoprene waders kept me warm. It took me about an hour the get back into the groove of fly fishing. By groove, I mean that I was not getting my line tangled every cast. I was still flogging the water like a baby in a bath tub. I didn't catch anything. I'm sure it was due to my poor technique. Other fishermen did quite well that day.
|Right before I dropped my camera. Notice the trash on the bank.|
Over all it was a good day. Next time I visit I am bringing my spinning gear and am going after one of those big boys!