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Published by Michael [raftman] on 08/16/2021 (307 reads)
I was selected as an Artist in Residence for The Bob Marshall Wilderness Area, which gave me the opportunity to spend two weeks deep in the backcountry of The Bob Marshall Wilderness (technically, I was in the Great Bear Wilderness, but it’s part of The Bob) in Montana to write and explore. Mules packed all my gear into an old Forest Service cabin that had propane lights and a stove. No running water, no electricity, and an abundance of mice. The cabin sat on a high ledge above the river which gave me access to plenty of fishing for Westslope Cutthroat Trout and Whitefish, a number of trails for hiking, and a great view to watch while I spent each first and last light writing.

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The fishing was incredible. I fished four flies the entire two weeks: a purple foam hopper, a caddis, a purple haze, and a streamer (occasionally, when it got really windy). They seemed to be keyed in on anything purple. At first, I had trouble getting my timing down — the river was crystal clear and I would watch these cutthroats come up for my fly from ten feet away and get excited and set the hook way too early. I switched over to my McFarland 7’6” 4 wt Spruce Creek fiberglass rod which forced me to slow down. I ended up catching most of the fish on that (including some pretty big ones). It was a blast. Simple. Easy. Consistent.

I also hiked up a few mountains while I was there (which I go into more detail on in my blog post). It was a pretty amazing experience, but it wasn’t without its difficulties. Hiking and flyfishing in grizzly country (The Bob has the highest density of grizzlies in the lower 48) was a challenge and forced me to be hyper attentive (I did meet a grizzly, but I’ll save that story for the blog…). I also knew that if I slipped or tripped or fell while fishing or hiking that it’d be a long while before anyone could come get me or find me. It was also a struggle being so completely alone and cut-off from the outside world for two weeks. The only news I’d get was wildfire smoke and the occasional chatter on the Forest Service radio I had with me (my only connection to the outside world). Mentally & emotionally, this was really hard, but I’m really glad I did it. It pushed me into places I would have never gone in my writing.

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If you’re looking to fish this area, reach out and I can provide more specifics. Most people access these watersheds with pack rafts (I saw quite a few go through while I was there). There is one rafting company that floats clients down the river (though I had a not-so-great experience with them when they floated ten clients through the run I was fishing and had each one fish it while I was standing a few feet from them on the bank. I did catch a big cutthroat just as the last group passed and they watched me land it which felt good), if guided fishing and camping is your thing. The only other way to access this area is to backpack into it, which requires grizzly and wilderness know-how (there is a section of this river that is “front country” and runs parallel to Route 2 and into/around Glacier National Park). Surprisingly, there aren’t a ton of campsites and most aren’t marked. It’s wild. It’s off-the-beaten-path. It’s great.

I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to explore this wilderness and hope I can honor it in my writing. I wrote up a more detailed blogpost that goes through my daily experiences and includes a lot more photos which you can check out here.

Author Bio:
Michael Garrigan writes and teaches along the banks of the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania and believes that every watershed should have a Poet Laureate. He enjoys exploring the river’s many tributaries with a fly rod for wild trout and hiking the riverlands. He is the author of two poetry collections — Robbing the Pillars and the chapbook What I Know [How to Do]. His poetry and essays have appeared in The Flyfish Journal, Gray’s Sporting Journal, and The Drake Magazine. You can find more of his writing (and order signed copies of his books) at www.mgarrigan.com.
 
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Published by Alex Ciocca [drakeking412] on 08/14/2020 (1526 reads)
I figured it appropriate to name this trip report after one of my favorite musicians' work (Frank Zappa) and since this was in fact a mini recon trip on “moving to Montana soon”. The trip was with my lovely girlfriend Rachel to Bozeman, Montana, and the surrounding areas of Southwestern Montana including several of the large Gold Medal rivers and a handful of smaller lesser known tributaries. The plan was to camp at five different locations for a total of seven nights in the mountains and two nights in Bozeman proper giving us ample time to explore the area hiking and fishing as well as soak in some of Bozeman (which really means soak in a bunch of good beer).

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We left Pittsburgh early Wednesday the 22nd and arrived into Bozeman around noon their time after a nice and stressful airport travel day. We rented a Toyota 4Runner and it was nothing but a dream the whole trip. If you’re on the fence on what to rent out there, opt for the full-sized SUV every time. We immediately headed North towards Fairy Lake and it really only ever takes about five minutes out of the terminal for me to remember why I love the West, the mountains are instant and the views incredible. After a ~45minute drive we arrived at Fairy Lake and found a site at the free campground just above the lake. I was able to sneak in an hour or two worth of fishing and landed my first ever Yellowstone Cutthroat on a size 16 gold chubby. My girlfriend and I had a really nice time pestering fish with chubbies and hoppers until the rain chased us back to camp for a light dinner. I’ll add that this night was the worst camping experience I might have ever had. The wind and rain was so strong that our tent pulled off the stakes and shifted a little around us and I might have woken up a dozen times or more. All in the pursuit right?

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On the first full day, we hiked to Sacagawea Peak which is worth spending the time (and energy) doing if you're in the area. It’s about 2000’ over about 3 miles so it sure is a hike, but well worth it.

The following day we were supposed to hike the Fairy Creek trail but the rain was threatening again so we decided to pack ship and head to the Gallatin area and boy am I sure glad we did. People talk about the Gallatin as having small fish and it’s just a stop along the way but it was more like a Penn’s Creek to me. It had lots of deep runs and riffles and some pocket water too and really reminded me a lot of the section above Cherry Run. Not to mention this first day on the Gallatin was good, I mean really good. I broke off what might end up being my largest river fish of the year and landed some extremely gorgeous browns and sizable wild rainbows. The fishing combined with the views you get makes you instantly forget you’re next to highway 191 where trucks are doing 70+. Rachel landed a nice rainbow on a chubby and was thrilled to begin to get a hold on this fly fishing thing, she’s even asking for her own net now too! We fished a little of the Gallatin again the next day but the real prize was just to the South through the resort town of Big Sky but just before West Yellowstone, The Madison River.

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We decided to set up camp first then try to catch the afternoon and PM bite down between the lakes. I chose this spot after talking to some people who said it is deeper in this area and more nymph friendly and since tight line is my strong suit nowadays it was an easy decision. Once we rumbled down the pitted dirt road we were met by the gorgeous valley views complete with Golden and Bald eagles soaring and chittering overhead. I’ve still yet to see one catch a fish so that is still on the bucket list but we also saw a pelican which was pretty cool (you’ll note in the pelican photo there is a pink innertube in the rear of the photo, a mother and her teenage children tried to “float” the Madison, they didn’t make it far).

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The fishing on the Madison was much tougher with my dry fly action coming on rusty spinners and caddis while Rachel was able to raise fish bank-busting on yet again a chubby in peacock and gold variants. The bug activity was small but there were PMDs and caddis zipping around and you could hear lots of terrestrials buzzing in the grasses but none came to the water even with the wind gusts. I also did decently well nymphing taking fish on a double bead stone, thread body nymphs, and the dreaded mop. The water here was no joke and not for the faint of heart. It is cold and it is fast so fishing it was a little sketchy at times but the bottom is a gravel substrate so no big surprises while wading thankfully. I landed some nice rainbows, a fairly large cutbow and please hold your applause, my largest whitefish ever! I ran downriver for that fish and my girlfriend will never let me live it down, that’s ok whitefish unlimited for life. While we were in the area we hiked up Cabin Creek which is one of the last remaining strongholds of the Yellowstone Cutthroat in the Madison River drainage basin with 98% of them residing in the upper reaches of the creek. The upper stretch was essentially isolated from downstream invasive rainbows by a series of steep waterfalls when the earthquake occurred in that area and they also constructed a fish wall to further prevent access. I didn’t fish it as we were just hiking but I wish I did because it sure was beautiful, oh and we ran into a grizzly. No spray was needed, both parties just needed a change of pants.

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On Monday we had our float rip scheduled with Fins and Feathers of Bozeman and our guide was Jake. He was the son of a Central PA transplant and had been out our way to fish so we instantly had things to talk about. The conditions were excruciatingly bad with a HOT high sun and not a cloud all day. We struggled to get eats other than willing whitefish eating Rachel’s nymph rig and the occasional small dry eat. We were able to drum up a little bit of hopper action though later where I landed a nice 18” rainbow and Rachel landed her personal best 16” wild brown trout on, you guessed it, a chubby. The Yellowstone was a gorgeous river though and had tons of great views making up for the slower fishing and the beer was cold too.

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Next up on the list for a couple of days was an area that many people recommended and that is the Hyalite Creek and canyon area. This turned out to be some of the most fun fishing and exploring I’ve had in a long time and while Montana may be known for the Gold Medal stretches and places like Three-Dollar Bridge don’t forget about the small feeder streams. It was extremely fun plinking 6-16” rainbows on a single caddis, I was at 17 fish (all rainbows) in two hours and some change before I stopped counting and the fish were in all the places you would have expected making it nice and easy too. If you fish that small drainage well you can in a single day catch a brook, brown, rainbow, greyling, and Yellowstone and westslope cutthroat. I was close just missing the westslope and the greyling and I sure tried getting the greyling out of the reservoir one of the days but just kept finding big Yellowstone cutthroat and beautiful brook trout. While we were there we checked out Pallisade Falls which is one of those Bozeman area must see type attractions. It’s just a short hike up a paved path, is ADA accessible, and worth visiting if you’re in the area with some family or just looking to fill some time. I’ll add that the camping options are very abundant in the Hyalite region and are extremely family-friendly.

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The final day and a half were spent checking out the Bozeman area since it’s on our list of destinations to move to. We hit seven different breweries and checked out a couple of the smaller shops too. We got lunch at a phenomenal breakfast/lunch Mexican place called La Tinga, be sure to look them up if you’re out there and had dinner at the scenically located MAP Brewing. We also had a to-die-for meat lovers pizza called the T-Rex at Bridger Brewing that had not only bison pepperoni but meatballs and the best fennel sausage I’ve ever had (I stole a piece of Rach’s sausage and nearly started WWIII).

Overall we really liked the area but we didn’t feel a magic spark coupled with the fact that the population is rising quickly and housing cost is skyrocketing. Our next target is Missoula which we heard is a little more our speed and still fairly cheap to live in with great fishing nearby. The trip was a solid 10/10 though with great fishing throughout and tons of gorgeous scenery to be had. Montana was exactly what I expected and exactly what we needed with all the craziness going on in our own lives.
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 05/19/2020 (12973 reads)
green drake I was looking through my photographs from last year and found a Green Drake snapshot, which is one of my favorites. Green Drakes (Ephemera guttulata) are one of my favorite flies to observe, too.

I say observe as I usually find myself on Penns Creek fishing while a huge Green Drake hatch is coming off and I am doing anything, but catching a lot of trout. The mixed hatches that occur during this time of year are exciting and frustrating as many angler's would agree.

So this year I am going to stop practicing the fine art of talking to myself during the hatch and I might even throw on a sulphur or a should I dare say a emerger on during the madness?

The Green Drakes can starting showing up around May 20th and are complimented by the Coffin Fly spinners which provide equal splendor during this time of year. So sit back and get ready to enjoy the show.






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Published by Dave Weaver [Dave_W] on 04/13/2020 (1573 reads)
In sad news for the fly-fishing community and the Cumberland Valley in particular, Ed Shenk passed away this week. He was 93.

Ed was one of the last of a well-known generation of Pennsylvania fly fishing innovators from the Greatest Generation. He is often mentioned in the same breath with Charlie Fox, Vince Marinaro, and other central Pennsylvania fly fishers who were central to advancing the sport in the mid-twentieth century. Like Fox and Marinaro, Shenk is best known for his association with the Letort, our state’s best-known stream for the development of innovative fishing methods.
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Many of us knew Ed and fished with him. While he could be opinionated, Ed was always willing to help and was eager to share his knowledge and experience. An innovative fly tier, Ed has long been associated with a variety of well known and still productive patterns, in particular the Letort Hopper, Letort Cricket, Shenk Sculpin, and Shenk’s White Minnow among others.

He was a guru of short fly rods and was handy at building custom glass rods. This short rod school has made a lasting impression on many of us who still love to fish with rods under six feet long, almost a sort of rebellion against the new fad for longer rods.

Ed was particularly skilled at targeting large trout with streamers, sculpin patterns in particular. This too affected many of us. I remember an article by Ed, “Sculpinating Trout” from (I think) Fly Fisherman Magazine in the mid-1980s. When I recently told Ed that that article had hooked me on sculpins, still one of my favorite flies, he was delighted and surprised someone would remember an article from back then.

Ed published a book, Fly Rod Trouting (Stackpole, 1989) that should be in any Pennsylvania angler’s library. In it, Ed recounts what is, I think, Pennsylvania’s greatest fish story: Old George. This was a great trout Ed pursued for a long time in Letort, finally catching it in 1964.

Image courtesy PA Fly Fishing Museum.
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 03/12/2020 (561 reads)
By Matthew Lourdeau

Minor league baseball is all about fun. Sure, the players are doing everything they can to succeed at the lower levels of professional baseball with the hopes of getting to the majors. But while they’re giving it their all on the field, there is a whole lot more going on around them. T-shirt cannons, “bring your dog” nights, and appearances from B-list celebrities draw crowds that include die-hard fans and families looking for a night out.

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If you are an angler who lives around Altoona, Pennsylvania, the draw to come to watch the Curve this June might be their new look. For one weekend, the Altoona Curve will become the Altoona Brookies. Complete with new jerseys, hats, and more, the Double-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates are going to celebrate the state fish of PA.

Brook trout are beautiful fish. Fly fishers and conventional anglers alike seek after them. However, their relatively diminutive size and bright colors eliminate them from consideration for something like the mascot of an NFL team. But minor league baseball? It is a perfect fit. In a league where Trash Pandas, Yard Goats, and Sod Poodles play all season, a weekend of Brookies is more than okay.

As is the case for many minor league promotions, “Brookie Weekend” will benefit a nonprofit. Currently, the Curve has announced that a jersey auction will help the American Rescue Workers, a nonprofit that fights hunger and homelessness. Trout fishing is certainly a way to generate interest in a cause in the keystone state. Pennsylvania has the highest stream density of any state in the country. It just so happens that many of those streams are occupied by trout for most of the year. The outdoors in general, and trout fishing in specific, is woven into the fabric of Pennsylvania.

In a culture like that, embroidering a leaping trout on the front of a ball cap just makes sense. And, of course, it is a lot of fun.

Matthew Lourdeau runs Casting Across, a website and podcast that explore the people, places, and things that go into the pursuit of fish. Originally from the MidAtlantic, he currently lives in New England where he’s only a short cast from mountain brookies and seacoast stripers.
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 10/27/2019 (1982 reads)
Michael Evanko, Wooly Bugged, fly fishing several Lake Erie tributaries for steelhead trout in Pennsylvania in mid-October. A couple of days prior Erie saw the first decent rain in a long time. The creeks came up for a couple of days and then came back down to low conditions. The short burst of water put the first good push of fish into the system. Evanko shows some of his favorite steelhead patterns and shares several hook-ups with fish. The water fished in this video is all publicly accessible and involved miles of walking. This is not Erie at its best, but rather an "ok" outing. This footage was shot in mid-October 2019. All filming was done solo, no bikes were used to access remote parts of these tributaries.

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Published by Alex Ciocca [drakeking412] on 08/16/2019 (58971 reads)
The trip to Idaho was absolutely phenomenal though. The scenery, geology, wildlife, everything was just what we were looking for. We met up with some of my girlfriend's friends from Oregon and camped for the week at Alturas Lake campground which had some extremely beautiful tent-only sites tucked next to the lake. Early week was very quiet and peaceful till later in the week when there was a music festival in nearby Stanley so there was much more drinking in the area. I only fished the lake one day and I'm not much of a stillwater guy so I didn't have much luck but enjoyed watching some families slay stockers with powerbait, nice to see the kids so excited.


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We hiked up to the Alpine lakes one day and fished those however we got to the trailhead a little too late so the "w" had shown up and put all the fish don and my casts too haha. I was stubborn and would only throw a dry but it was fun and worth just the sights, we really enjoyed them and you live and learn. There was tons of bug activity up there though which was really cool to see.

We also did a float trip down the Salmon River which was my first guide trip and my first float trip proper. Man, that was a seriously good time. I could do that every day and not get tired of it. Our guide Troy lined up with our ideas on conservation and fishing in general and was a great guy to be around, I'd consider him a friend and plan on fishing with him again one day. We caught tons and tons of fish too with some being decent sized. My girlfriend had the time of her life throwing big foams and not touching a single fish haha. She hit her first fish on her own and broke off her first fish too. Several times I heard "I should have given him line Alex" haha the one that got away. Driftboat fishing is amazing though and I'm extremely interested to do it more.


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Lastly, I fished the tribs to the Salmon which were somewhat difficult to fish and access was tough at times. They were much clearer and higher flows than some of our streams and the fish seemed to be sitting in different positions than I'm used to. After an hour or two I started to figure it out and got into some fish. Around lunch, I started to miss fish and make mistakes that lost me some very nice fish. I also made a very big mistake of losing a fish, snagging, and then while frustrated retrieving the fly slipping and busting my shin very hard on some very hard rock. It was close to a day ender. Perseverance wins though and I was rewarded in the late afternoon with some 18" native cutthroat, the fish I went to Idaho for. They were very aggressive on the take and the fights were exhilarating too.

Overall my first major out of state fly fishing trip was a major success. We took a much-needed vacation and got to do some super amazing hikes and fishing. I have a ton more photos of some of the other areas like hot springs and falls I'll be putting together later, I can post the link to that here later but it's for her family too so it's going to be tough...

Thanks for reading and check out Idaho if you haven't! Feel free to pm and I can give you some pointers.

link to photos: https://imgur.com/a/Am3Q8CT

link to the conversation in the forum
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 03/04/2019 (1274 reads)

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This weekend brings the Fly Fishing Show to Lancaster, Pa. This is the best fly fishing show in Pennsylvania you can find and a great opportunity see what the latest and greatest is going on in the industry.

For those of you that have not made the trip before it is a two day event that includes a very large exhibit floor, fly tiers, retail shops, educational programs and more. Many members from Paflyfish make their way to the show every year. If you are looking for trips, rods, reels, flies, waders any gear or tying materials this is the show to hit. There are many outstanding presentations about fly fishing techniques and locations to attend as well.

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Dates: March 9 & 10, 2019
Saturday: 9am – 5:30pm
Sunday: 9am – 4:30pm

Location: Lancaster County Convention Center,
3 East Vine Street
Lancaster, PA 17602

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Additional Highlights include:
Learning Center: Fly Fishers International (FFI) is pleased to offer FREE fly fishing instruction at the Learning Center located on the main show floor. Basic fly-casting, fly-tying, and knots, will be taught throughout the day-every day of the Fly Fishing Show.
The International Fly Fishing Film Festival. One night only, Saturday, March 9 at 6:00pm. $15; $10 in advance.To purchase your advance.
Link to the Fly Fishing Show - Lancaster

Follow along in the forum.
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 02/12/2019 (757 reads)
By Bill Kosmer at Trout Tails

I spent last weekend (Jan 25-27) at The Fly Fishing Show in Edison, NJ tying flies in the Fly Stones booth. It was a great 3 days. It is always good to see old friends and make new ones. Thank you to everyone who stopped by! Below is just a few snap shots. I wanted to get more photos, but it is amazing how busy it gets and how quickly it goes by. If you have never been to one of the shows, I encourage you to check them out. All the major gear manufactures are there with the latest products, as well as some of the most talented tiers and fishers around. There are many demonstrations and seminars throughout the weekend.


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Published by Maurice Chioda [Maurice] on 01/12/2017 (3347 reads)
Through the generosity of one of our Sponsors, Ed Wooton from Harman's Luxury Cabins offered a free weekend getaway to a lucky winner in a raffle. I was the lucky winner and have to say I am glad I entered.


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The first order of business was to find some folks to join me and with the short notice it turned out that Slay12345 and my brother in law mblatt, were able to oblige. So on Friday we scrambled to gather our gear and began the journey to WVA.

We traveled in low 20 degree temps on Friday but a warm snap was upon us and by morning it was above freezing with freezing rain coating every surface outside. We arrived to the fireplace running and a comfy temperature inside.

I tied some flies in in the cabins lower floor sitting area in front of the warm fire and flat screen TV showing the Penguin game while Mick stabbed olives in a glass full of vodka I think. Josh showed up late and we met and shared stories of our fishing addictions over a few cocktails.


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In the morning on Saturday, Josh, Mick and I enjoyed some hot coffee in our beautiful home for the weekend as we talked ourselves into braving the freezing rain only to stand in 35 degree water after busting out ice. Knowing the air temp was going to increase all day to a high of 55 was on our minds though so we soldiered through the dressing and trip over the icy hill to the river. We found a long riffle, run, pool sequence based on a little research over the past few hours and it proved to have plenty of room for three guys to flyfish. The North Fork of the South Branch of Potomac is a fairly large river that had flows in the 220CFS range for the weekend we were there. It also is rather filthy with fish...Rainbow Trout to be exact.


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A short time after breaking free and drifting a few giant ice sheets so we could wade ( a skill we developed in Erie for Steelhead) we quickly got into fish. Rainbows, largely in the 15"-20" range and heavy. I started by swinging a dumbell eye rabbit strip streamer that I had tied the night before. It took a few casts but After a few short strikes I realized I had to slow it down and soon began hooking up, landing about half those that bit while I just hung the streamer in the current and twitched it. Josh was downstream up over his waist in ice water and was hooking up as well using egg patterns. I switched over to dredging eggs and beadheads at that point because of the low landing rate with the streamer. Mick was rewarded with a huge bow for his first fish, immediately after complaining about not getting bit.

The water was c-c-c-cold! Frozen feet and fingers was a price we paid for the frequent hook ups with heavy rainbows. Just looking at Josh made me even colder I think. I don't know how he did it. I guess from the power from his digital camera being out all the time warmed him up. LOL. Every time I looked down there he had a bent rod or was looking in his net. Mick was doing well above me too.

During the day we saw the sun poke through a few times and the ice covered trees rained down on the water providing some interesting views between fish. We hadn't seen the landscape when we arrived the evening before and the morning was very foggy. While the fog lifted the gray fuzzy filter from our view, it revealed sheer rocky cliffs, green moss covered hillsides and Lichen It was beautiful!

Some of our fish were pretty chunky, maybe a few over 20" by a hair, some over 4 lbs I think. It reminded me of steelhead fishing. Especially the need to get out of the crik and walk because I had Block Foot. Around noon we all started walking around the banks warming our feet and apparently chilling our legs as was explained to me by Josh later that day. You see when your feet are freezing and you are standing still, then begin to walk and get the blood moving, that cold blood begins working its way up your legs and makes them cold. Learn something new everyday.

I went back to the cabin for a bite to eat and to try to get the "rest of my blood" to be the same temperature. Josh and Mick followed shortly after and we compared notes and went back out for the last couple hours of daylight. By now the air had warm gusts and there was a more optimistic feeling about climbing down that slippery hill to the stream.

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We went to another long pool section and basically repeated the pattern we had in the am. After it got too dark to fish we celebrated our successful day with a toast and went down the road for a bite to eat. We ate at a small "greasy spoon" down the road. (It was my recommendation by the way) I like to experience local examples of Americana even though the food may not meet your expectations. Sometimes you hit a home run, sometimes you foul one off. I'd call this place a bloop single down the line. But the waitress was nice which is probably what got us to first base.

Anyway, we finished the evening with a few libations and a recount of the days events over an Eric Clapton concert featuring Derek Trucks on the boob tube while Josh tied SJ worms. We also discussed fishing the next morning but woke to a steady rain and it seemed prudent to just hit the road after checking out and meeting our host Ed Wooton. Great guy, shared a great deal of information for our return trips, which will likely happen for sure.

So a Big Thumbs UP for Harman's and their accommodations, the fishing and beauty of the area. We learned there are plenty of other sections to fish on the NFSB Potomac too so that was encouraging. The drive home out of that valley in the daylight was impressive as well.

Trip comments in the forum here. Pictures by Josh Slaymaker.
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