Tuesday, December 22, 2009

2009 - The Year of the Friends, Family, and Brook Trout

The economic downturn of 2009 affected nearly everyone, including me. I was unable to make the planned trip out west but I was able to share several eastern brook trout experiences with my 9-year-old son and several friends.

I fished 47 different streams in 2009, with 14 different anglers. I caught brook trout in 33 streams, with 25 of those being new streams to my list. While prospecting for brookies, I caught wild rainbows in 5 streams (3 new) and wild browns in 4 streams (all new). I even caught a few smallmouth on the 2wt!

The year was spent searching for brookies but with all of the brookies I caught, they were sandwiched in between two wild rainbows - which were the first and last fish landed this year.

First fish of the year:

Last fish of the year:

In between were all of these adventures:


My fishing year started on an unseasonably warm day in March with a good friend of mine (Chad). It was my first brook trout of the year on a dry fly and first wet wading day of the year. I caught brook trout out of four streams on this day, three of which were new to me.

I was also able to get my son (Ross) out in the month of March; unfortunately the weather was not nearly as cooperative.


I typically don't fish the same stream more than once a year, but April found me on this southern brookie stream twice.
The first was on the way to the annual Elkhorn Clean-up.

On the way home from the clean-up I made a detour, with a few WVAngler friends (fretbored, josh, and wvminer), to a brookie stream just across the state line in Virginia.

A cold Easter weekend found me in the Smokies with my son and Chad. No fish were harmed during the making of this adventure.

Finally, April ended with a Trout Unlimited Trout in the Classroom release followed by a trip to the same southern brook trout stream I had started the month with. My partners for the day were my long-time fishing partner (Gary) and Chad, the first time I had fished with my old partner in almost four years.


Probably the best fly fishing month of the year, May was a busy month. It started out camping with a co-worker (Joe) whom is still learning the art of fly fishing and doing quite well. I taught him how to fish a dry/dropper rig this weekend and we caught brook trout in two different streams.

The middle of May found me fishing with another WVAngler friend (Rick). We had been planning this trip for over a year, it was a 3 1/2 mile hike, across the eastern continental divide, into the Seneca Backcountry.

My son and I finished up May exploring small streams while at the Blennerhassett TU chapter campout. He caught his first solo brook trout on the fly at the first stream. We caught brook trout out of five different streams during the weekend campout and he was able to see all three species of salmonids (all wild) found in the state. We also hiked to the top of Seneca Rocks and visited the highest point in the state.

Another great month of fly fishing, June had a couple of group outings beginning with the WVAngler campout. I camped in Kumbrabow with a couple more WVAngler friends (flyfishing4life, GreenWeenieWizard, and Mrs. GreenWeenieWizard).

I caught brook trout in six different streams this weekend. As sometimes happens when exploring new water, I caught wild bows and wild browns in two other streams respectively.

The final trip of June was the annual Middle Fork of the Williams limestone fines bucket brigade, which was attended by over fifty volunteers.

My son, Chad, and I spent the weekend camped at Tea Creek campground, a perfect central location for exploring the blue lines in the region. I caught brook trout in four different streams and wild browns in two others. Ross also caught another brook trout on the fly solo and Chad was able to capture it entirely on video.


July started off with a bang when Chad and I hit the streams for a couple of days. The first day was probably the best day on the water the entire year - both numbers and size.

I caught brook trout in two different streams, wild browns in two others, and one wild rainbow in the extreme headwaters of one other.

As normally happens in July, the drought set in and I did more hiking than fishing. I took this opportunity to show a co-worker (Henry from Utah) around our great state. We hiked both the Dolly Sods Wilderness and the Seneca Backcountry, where we hooked up with fishing friend and bamboo rodmaker (Phil). I was able to land one of the extremely spooky rainbows from the Seneca Backcountry.

The rhododendron was in full bloom and the falls of the Sods still had water.


Things really started to slow down in August. The only outing in August was a whirlwind road trip across West Virginia with my son. We camped and hiked in Dolly Sods. We caught brook trout and smallmouth in the Romney area - where Ross also saw his first black bear.


The fishing was slow in September as well, as water levels continued to be low. I made a day trip with Phil and I was able to scrounge brook trout from two more new streams.

The second trip in September involved a hike to Chimney Rocks on North Fork Mountain with Phil and brook trout in two more new streams.

October had only one trip and it was another dandy. I hiked then entire Middle Fork of the Williams watershed (from the Scenic Highway to the Williams River) with John Rebinski, head of the WV DNR Limestone Fines Program. I experienced the season's first snow, saw my second bear of the year, fished with a fellow BCTU'er (Jason), caught brook trout in three streams (two new), and returned to Chimney Rocks in the snow - all in one weekend!

November for me included a transfer to Cincinnati, a return trip to the Smokies, and shutout in the snow on a couple of new southern brookie streams. The trip to the Smokies included wet
wading and dry flies during the second weekend of November!
I thought I might pick up a December brookie with my younger brother, who is in from Denver for the holidays, but a snowstorm dumped nearly three feet of snow in the mountains.

Living in northern Kentucky in 2010 will challenge me to repeat the efforts of 2009...but I'll give it my best effort!