KironaFly

Spring has Sprung here in Virginia

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Suffice to say this has been an unusual year 2020 (way understatement). On the seasonal front we in Virginia have had the mildest Winter in recent memory (2 decades) and the "earliest" Spring. As witnessed by the Cherry Blossom bloom, then Red Buds, foliage, etc. our Spring is almost a full month "early". With weather air temperatures having already hit the 70°Fs  ... even approaching 80°Fs ... this is crazy warm weather for March in Northern Virginia.

 

So with all those indicators going off, it was time to try and fish the "run" ... if there was any yet. Turns out it is just turning on.

 

My first time out 2 days ago produced nothing ... with no indicators that fish were around (Ospreys or fish splashes) ... nothing ... just a few Creek Chubs cruising the shallows. Yesterday evening started out much the same way ... though I saw two fish (Shad) get caught over an hour period. The fishing was spotty at best.

 

After 2 hours I was giving up and started trying out various flies ... experimenting to see how they looked in the river stream. I put this new "bubble head" fly I bought up in Rhode Island last fall. It struck me then as a good peanut bunker and / or chub minnow imitator. I threw it with the doubtful hope a rogue Striper might be swimming around.

Bubblehead.jpeg.63467aa702f2f2928555bbd70a34153a.jpeg

 

Wrong! To my complete surprise a Large (mother) Hickory Shad slammed the fly. Large being 18 inches and a couple pounds in weight; the upper end of a mature Hickory Shad's size.   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hickory_shad 

5e7f5c5a69208_BigHick2020.jpeg.b7783f444679d8056c6dcaac60fb6aa3.jpeg

 

After this First Fish of 2020 .... I caught another mother and a few "bucks". I switched from the store bought "Bubblehead" to a  smaller Popovics Fleye Foil classic surf candy (as used for False Albacore) and was now hooking up with frequency.

 

So Spring has Sprung!

 

Anyone know the name of the this "Bubblehead Candy" fly?? Thanks for the view and comments.

5e7f5c5c55a7e_BubbleheadCandy.jpeg.d88df0d7dc596dc22896c66d5e95a9e6.jpeg

 

 

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So following some good advice :agree: I switched out a 10 foot 6wt for a new T&T Exocet 9ft 6wt. These new nano-generation rods are just that much lighter (and stronger?) then some old time favorites... these T&T rods are really nice casting tools  Not bad fishing tools either. Got the same results ... lots of Hickory Shad 12 to 18 inches (most around 18). 

 

This is all good news for the Shad spawning stock. Some 15 years ago Virginia & the Army Corps of Engineers (federal) removed the Embrey Dam (a vestigial structure / obstruction) to free up 20 more river miles of spawning habitat). In some ways it screwed up Striper fishing as the upper river below the fall line filled up with silt. On average deep channels went from 5 or 6 feet down to 3. But the fish still push up river, forage on creek chubs etc. and keep the species going.

 

Good thing that fly fishing is social distancing friendly (preferred).

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Ultimate Bonefish rod?? .. Western Trout rod?? .. No it's quite the fun Shad (& Smallmouth Bass??) fishing fly rod.

 

5e809dc593748_ShadtoolTTIslander.jpeg.29373b59328f7965f05bbe8cce252ab4.jpeg

 

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 This post is about fishing conditions. If you look at your local waters you might not be impressed. The river or shoreline might be trashed. You might look at things and say to yourself .... the conditions are crap ... no self respecting fish would swim in these waters. Well you don't know if you don't try. 

 

Some 15 years ago Virginia & the Army Corps of Engineers (federal) removed the Embrey Dam (a vestigial structure / obstruction) to free up 20 more river miles of spawning habitat). In some ways it screwed up Striper fishing as the upper river below the fall line filled up with silt. On average deep channels went from 5 or 6 feet down to 3. But the fish still push up river, forage on creek chubs etc. and keep the species going.

 

5e809f7ab8c0b_RappahannockRifflecopy.jpeg.e8086d098568d37cc655b53826aa0581.jpeg

 

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23 hours ago, KironaFly said:

Suffice to say this has been an unusual year 2020 (way understatement). On the seasonal front we in Virginia have had the mildest Winter in recent memory (2 decades) and the "earliest" Spring. As witnessed by the Cherry Blossom bloom, then Red Buds, foliage, etc. our Spring is almost a full month "early". With weather air temperatures having already hit the 70°Fs  ... even approaching 80°Fs ... this is crazy warm weather for March in Northern Virginia.

 

So with all those indicators going off, it was time to try and fish the "run" ... if there was any yet. Turns out it is just turning on.

 

My first time out 2 days ago produced nothing ... with no indicators that fish were around (Ospreys or fish splashes) ... nothing ... just a few Creek Chubs cruising the shallows. Yesterday evening started out much the same way ... though I saw two fish (Shad) get caught over an hour period. The fishing was spotty at best.

 

After 2 hours I was giving up and started trying out various flies ... experimenting to see how they looked in the river stream. I put this new "bubble head" fly I bought up in Rhode Island last fall. It struck me then as a good peanut bunker and / or chub minnow imitator. I threw it with the doubtful hope a rogue Striper might be swimming around.

Bubblehead.jpeg.63467aa702f2f2928555bbd70a34153a.jpeg

 

Wrong! To my complete surprise a Large (mother) Hickory Shad slammed the fly. Large being 18 inches and a couple pounds in weight; the upper end of a mature Hickory Shad's size.   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hickory_shad 

5e7f5c5a69208_BigHick2020.jpeg.b7783f444679d8056c6dcaac60fb6aa3.jpeg

 

After this First Fish of 2020 .... I caught another mother and a few "bucks". I switched from the store bought "Bubblehead" to a  smaller Popovics Fleye Foil classic surf candy (as used for False Albacore) and was now hooking up with frequency.

 

So Spring has Sprung!

 

Anyone know the name of the this "Bubblehead Candy" fly?? Thanks for the view and comments.

5e7f5c5c55a7e_BubbleheadCandy.jpeg.d88df0d7dc596dc22896c66d5e95a9e6.jpeg

 

 

don't know the name but that looks like "iceabou",too bad they stopped making it,magic stuff...why it is called a "bubblehead"? something tucked up in there?

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6 mins ago, slip n slide said:

don't know the name but that looks like "iceabou",too bad they stopped making it,magic stuff...why it is called a "bubblehead"? something tucked up in there?

I named it Bubblehead out of ignorance. It's similar to the Airhead fly but constructed differently. Using EZ body or Corsair ... you tie in an elliptical "bubble". And then with UV epoxy ... you drape what looks like DNA fibers and or Iceabou type stuff and zap the body fibers in place ... following the taper of the bubble. Looks like an easy tie all & all.

 

That's why I asked for the name of the fly ... to better research construction technique.

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That fly seems to have some elements of the Hoo fly in it, as if there is a sheath brushed with fabric fusion but with something other than lazer dub?

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15 mins ago, stormy monday said:

That fly seems to have some elements of the Hoo fly in it, as if there is a sheath brushed with fabric fusion but with something other than lazer dub?

 

Yes it could be liquid fusion ... but that doesn't set too quickly.

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20 hours ago, triumph said:

They're thick in Richmond right now.

Roger that ... crazy weather it's like May in March.

 

When you look at the river water temperature ... it's heating up quickly and could seriously effect the spawning success. The window for anadromous fish to spawn, given higher than normal water temperatures, could make for a very short seasonal run.

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Hey Kirona;  Interestingly, the nautical chart under the fly in your photo is where I lived for a year-- Ft Adams in Newport.  It was an incredible year of fishing for me.  Also, a couple years ago I assisted a Project Healing Waters fishing day on the Rapp at Falmouth Flats.  I couldn't believe how much it had changed since I fished there in the 90's. Remember the deep hole by the big rock?  2 feet deep now eh?  On the balance, I think removing Embrey Dam was a good call, but it sure messed up some prime striper water.  I wonder if a good flood would scour the river out, but with all of the development upriver over the past decades, it would probably just make it worse.

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4 mins ago, bmac said:

Hey Kirona;  Interestingly, the nautical chart under the fly in your photo is where I lived for a year-- Ft Adams in Newport.  It was an incredible year of fishing for me.  Also, a couple years ago I assisted a Project Healing Waters fishing day on the Rapp at Falmouth Flats.  I couldn't believe how much it had changed since I fished there in the 90's. Remember the deep hole by the big rock?  2 feet deep now eh?  On the balance, I think removing Embrey Dam was a good call, but it sure messed up some prime striper water.  I wonder if a good flood would scour the river out, but with all of the development upriver over the past decades, it would probably just make it worse.

Hey there BMAC,

 

As Paul Harvey once said .... Now you know the rest of the story.

 

Yes Indeed ... Newport is where I grew up as my Dad retired from the Navy there. As a military brat many of my friends (and my wife whom I met in the 8th grade) came to Newport and lived out at Ft. Adams as their Dad's spent a year at the Naval War College (perhaps a year you've spent there). Two years ago my niece's wedding was at Ft. Adams with the ceremony overlooking the bay and partying in the fort. It was a blast!

 

If you look at my SOL avatar picture ... those rockfish on the rocks were caught early one morning while fishing the channel running by the Big Rock. It was mid-May as those two fish were "keepers" just under the 28 inch slot upper limit.

RappaRockfish.jpeg.41caca55f9bd9f8d29563ccefb7a3728.jpeg

 

My fishing buddy Vince at the time, along with myself and another gent, founded the Falmouth Flats Fly Fishers (federation of fly fishers) club / organization. And yes we promoted the tear down of the Embrey Dam ... and yes it resulted in tons of silt filling the river bottom from the fall line past City Dock (about 5 miles worth). The upper Potomac river also has big problem with silt. It's all related to building development, and farm land management, etc.

5e83661ad138a_Vincesmudbar.jpg.69522d7b4b0850aa19199bdff70f46a7.jpg

 

But the fish still push up river ... every year I still catch Stripers on the fly in these much shallower & humbled waters that push 28 inches. Just starting to work on this years catch.

 

 

 

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Spring has Sprung??  

 

Indeed it has even though March was like May with many high 70°F days. Early blooms and rising water temps for spawning fish. Then April came around and behaved like April, with 35°F early mornings and cooler in water temperatures as well (55°F). One blow out the river rain event occurred raising the river's level by 6+ feet. As I said April in Virginia is being a normal April.

 

So when the Dogwoods bloom ... the Stripers loom. And I finally got my first Striper of 2020 on the fly. YAY!!

 

5ea207b0d1610_FirstStriper2020.jpeg.35650c32634adfb87e32c5c5b187c438.jpeg

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