Tuesday, May 25, 2010

This Is (And Always Will Be) Home!

With my move to the midwest, I have had this weekend circled since the date was set. It is the weekend of our local TU chapter campout and it just so happens to coincide with the spring TU State Council meeting.

I haven't seen some of these friends/members since I left home in November and I was really looking forward to catching up.

I also received a call a couple of weeks earlier with an invite to revisit the Seneca Backcountry with a friend who hiked in with me last year. The previous adventure took a year to coordinate, this trip took less than five minutes.

I was to meet him at the trailhead at 6:30 AM, which meant (following a drive home from Cincinnati) I had to leave Parkersburg before 3:30 AM. When I get psyched for a trip like this, I never have a problem getting up and driving that early.

Following a nice hike up and over Allegheny Mountain, we found that the rains from earlier in the week had good flows everywhere.

I typically go small on this stream. My favorite set up is a 16 EHC with an 18 BHPT dropper, but with the flows I couldn't get the fish to rise to the small dry and the small nymph wasn't getting down. I did manage a few with this setup, but not what it should be.

I had to move to a bigger setup, with a large stimulator and a 14 tungsten beadhead hare's ear. They weren't real fond of the large dry, but I picked up a few.

What they did like, however, was the large nymph dropper! It was fishing as usual on the upper Seneca canyon - picking up brookies and wild bows in every pocket and pool.

I picked up some of the most beautiful bows I have seen anywhere in West Virginia.

The brookies were digging the nymph too!

The fishing was great all day, but as usual on a trip into this area you have to eventually realize you have a brutal hike out. Depending upon how far upstream you fish it can be almost 5 miles out.
It was a great day of fishing with a good friend and that is what coming home to West Virginia is all about.

From the trailhead it was up & over Spruce Knob and on to the next destination of the weekend; the 4H camp at Thornwood and the Blennerhassett chapter campout. It was great to be back with the gang - it doesn't get any better than sitting around the campfire with friends.
The next morning it was up and on the road early to get in a few hours of fishing before TU State Council. I was in search of a new trail and a new stream that headwaters in Virginia.
After finally finding the trailhead (after a wrong turn put me in Virginia), it was a short mile or so hike into the stream. As I was tying on a fly, I saw a rise in the tail of the next pool...first drift:
The next pool produced another good brookie and the third pool produced this fat little brookie from under some overhanging rhododendron. Notice the "gut" hanging over my finger!

As I fished upstream I thought it started looking familiar. Was I on the right stream? Believing I was on a stream I had already fished multiple times, I turned and headed to the mouth to explore the area I thought I should be in.
The stream I thought I should be fishing was quite large and with the recent rains was too big to fish with my 2wt bamboo. I did, however, find this: my first lady slipper.

On the hike out, I ran across this guy in the trail. He posed very nicely on the bamboo.

Once I made it back to the vehicle; I made me a nice cup of coffee on my backpack stove, changed into some dry clothes, and double-checked my gazetteer. It was true, I did actually fish a stream I had on my life list - I hate not having my GPS. I also couldn't believe how large the stream was that I should have been fishing. I'll need to fish several miles upstream (in Virginia) to add this brookie stream to my list.
Following a very nice State Council meeting, it was back toward Thornwood. Before I headed out, I double-checked the gazetteer again for another route into the stream I had checked out earlier in the AM.
I crossed the state line at the top of the mountain and headed back down the other side, into Virginia on a narrow dirt road.

Once on the water, I found it was also ripping (but again not off-color) from the recent rains. I walked downstream a very short distance and fished my way back to the bridge where I had parked.
As I made it back to the bridge pool, the skies had turned black and looked like the rains were eminent again. But what the clouds also brought out were the BWOs and rising fish everywhere. I had to dig deep in my box to find a BWO parachute, so I tied it on - game on!
First drift:
I picked up several more small brookies before the driving rain forced me off the stream.

I had added another stream to my life list, so satisfied that I had found the stream I should have fished in the AM, I headed back to camp.
It was another great dinner and another great evening around the fire with friends. The next morning we posed for a group photo before heading our separate ways. This is a great group of guys - the same guys that treating my son like one of the guys the year before.

I headed to a small trib on the top of Cheat Mountain with another good friend, whom I typically am lucky to fish with only once a year.

This is another new stream for me and another stream, which contains both brookies and browns.

I picked up a nice little wild brown and a couple of YOY brookies. This little brookie was a bit camera shy.

Size does not make a trophy to me and it's always a good sign to catch the little guys. My partner for the short time on this stream picked up one nice little brookie on a woolybugger, so we know there are at least a couple of different age classes of brookie in there.
This is a beautiful little stream and I wish I had more time to fish it but I had a 3+ hour drive to Parkersburg and then another 4-hour drive to the Cincinnati area.
As I drove home, I realized that no matter where my travels in life take me the people and places in West Virginia will ALWAYS be home to me.


Wolfy said...

GREAT pictures. beautiful looking stream , and the newt isvery cool. I'll be in Upstate PA this week on (probably) my only shot at native brookies in 2010

Chris S. said...

Thanks Wolfy!

I don't know where you will be in PA but I caught a few natives in Bald Eagle State Forest.

Good luck,

Cutthroat Stalker said...


Looks like it was a fantastic time for you. Those were some gorgeous shots in there.

My buddy Dan and I are heading to the Great Smoky and Shenandoah in two weeks. Shoot me an email so I can pick your brain (lots of road driving, so not a lot of hiking).