Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Trout Fishing Weekend in Staunton, VA - Pt 1

Last weekend my dad and I went up to the Staunton, VA area to do some trout fishing. We had been planning the trip for about six months. Our schedules are so busy that a simple trip to the local lake needs to be planned a month in advance, so an overnight trip is a big deal! I made sure to book a guide well in advance. There was only one weekend in the spring that worked for both of us.

A month before our trip, I called our guide to confirm the date and to find out the best place to stay. I reserved a room at the Sleep Inn in Staunton for a hefty $129. The only weekend we could go happened to be graduation weekend at the local college. All room rates were prime.

The day before our trip I called our guide to nail down the details. This is where things got rocky. Our guide had forgotten that his daughter was graduating from the local college the day he was supposed to take us out. He could still take us, but it would only be half a day in the evening. Why I had to call him the day before for him to tell me this is still a mystery.

I was disappointed to say the least. Deciding to make the best of it, my dad and I decided to cancel our hotel reservation and drive to Staunton in the morning. We would do some surf fishing close to home the night before. This would save us a good bit of money.

Problem number 2: Sleep Inn has a 48 hour cancellation policy. My card would be charged whether I came or not. Lesson learned: never make a reservation at Sleep Inn!

Oh well. On to Plan C.

We would drive up like we originally planned and scout out George Washington National Forest in the morning. I've been wanting to do some camping and it is always nice to see a campground before you camp there.

On the way up to Staunton, we stopped at the Aberdeen Barn in Charlottesville. It was supper good! If you are passing through that area and want a $30 steak, make sure you visit them!

We ate our side of cow and spent the night uneventfully at the Sleep Inn.

The morning of our fishing trip was rainy. Not a down pour, or even a steady rain, just a heavy drizzle. We headed up to The George Washington National Forest to check things out.

Our first stop was at Braley pond. It is a beautiful picnicking area with a small, primitive campground attached. The camping area was a little crowded, but the pond only had one fisherman. He hadn't caught anything all morning.

Onto our next spot.

I should interject that navigating the forest roads was a challenge. I did not have a paper map, choosing to use my iPhone and iPad. Well, the iPhone did not get a cell signal, so it could not display  the map, and the iPad could not acquire GPS signal due to the heavy cloud cover. If you are venturing into this forest, buy a paper map!

We stopped at Elkhorn Lake next. It is another beautiful mountain lake. There were a lot of local fishermen using power bait and worms, but none of them were catching anything. We decided to give it a try. My dad grabbed a spinning rod and some ultralight lures and I broke out my fly rod.

Using a olive woolly bugger I made a cumbersome cast to some structure. BAM! Fish on! All fish seem large when using a fly rod. It was a small largemouth.

I wasn't expecting a bass in a mountain lake, but apparently there are a bunch in this lake. Tons of hungry panfish too.

I could see large bass in the deeper water, but could not attract them to my trout flies. Next time I come I am bringing my bass gear. Every angler I saw was fishing for trout. I think that someone with proper bass gear could do very well on bass.

Dad got board of not catching anything, so we went exploring.

We next discovered North River Campground. Which is a very nice little camp. Then we wandered down to the Staunton Reservoir. Some guys were fishing for crappie off of the dam and were destroying them! Boy I wish I had brought my regular tackle box! The view here was a sight to behold. I even ran into this beautiful flower:

We were getting hungry and it was nearing time to meet our guide, so we headed back down the mountain. Even though the morning did not go as planned, we both had a lot of fun!

Stay tuned...... Next comes the trout!

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