Wednesday, June 30, 2010

WVAngler Campout - 2010

The last weekend in June was the 5th annual WVAngler campout. In my opinion, WVAngler is the best thing to happen to trout fishing in West Virginia in recent memory. The site is a great source of information, great for coordinating/communicating conservation activities, and general all-around good people. Through this site, I have met and fished with folks who I don't only simply consider friends, I consider them life-long friends.

Each year we pick a location and gather for a weekend of fishing and camaraderie. This weekend we were located in Elkins - West Virginia trout central.

On Friday I finally met up with a fellow board member who has invited me multiple times to fish one of his "jewel" brookie streams. This isn't your typical dry fly fishing stream. This is a weighted woolybugger, dredging the bottom, monster-hunting stream. I've heard reports of native brookies pushing 16" caught out of this stream...but don't ask, because, out of respect of my "guide", I'm not telling!

I've caught my fair share of native brookies, but I may have caught my biggest to date out of this stream. From fingertip to watch band, my hand measure 8". This may have been my first 12"-class native brook trout.

My fishing partner (aptly, he goes by the handle of brookie on WVAngler) caught the fish of the day, a true two-hander.

I didn't land any of the monster brookies, but some of the fish I saw take a swipe at my woolybuggers would have been 14" easy. A truly amazing stream! Did I mention there is an old limestone quarry near the head of it?

That evening it was an incredible time with friends around a nice campfire.

The next day it was to one of my favorite West Virginia brookie streams to show a couple of good friends the canyon section. One had never fished this section and the other had never fished the stream at all.

The new guy to the stream was fellow native angler and my partner for my 2007 Native Salmonid Roadtrip. He is as passionate about the natives as me and this stream has been on his list for a couple of years, we simply couldn't coordinate it.

I did manage to pick up a few fish, but this wasn't about catching fish. This day was about spending time on an incredible stream with great friends.

It's always a good sign to pick up the little guys, particularly considering about 15 years ago this stream was dead.

I hung back, took photos, played hide-and-seek, and (on a dare) took a dive into one of the deeper pools.

Here is the pair splitting a section of small pocket water.

Everyone I take in here, I try to get a photo of him under this stream landmark.

Just above the "cave" hole are the falls.

Recently I've found that as much as I enjoy exploring new water, I enjoy sharing these waters with friends just as much, if not more.

I don't know that I have ever had a better time on the water!

On the hike out we made another friend!

I always watch the trail when I hike, but I nearly stepped on this guy. He was stretched out straight and with his dark colors; I thought it was a tree limb in the trail. We guessed him to be about 4' and he was as big around as my arm - the biggest timber rattler I have ever encountered. Turn up your speakers!

Following a successful journey into on one of my favorite streams I took them to another stream that I fished for the first time in 2009. I actually fished a little harder on this stream - it was slow going and I had to prove to them there actually were fish in there. At one point I may have jokingly offered to provide lessons.

Finally, back at the trailhead at the end of a long day.

That evening it was another round of good times, exchanging the day's fishing tales. I thought our adventure would have been the story of the day....I was wrong! There was one story that topped them all and it will be discussed at all future WVAngler campouts.
I did stop to fish one stream before heading back to Kentucky. The stream was brutally low and the fish were pooled up. One thing about the fish pooling in low water conditions, you can see what is really in the stream. Note to self: you must fish this stream during normal flows!
This is probably all of my West Virginia posts for a few months. My next entries will most likely be from my massive road trip in search of 11 new native salmonid species. Wish me luck!


Wolfy said...

VERY cool rattler video> And great looking streams, toto. Nice post and trip

Gary said...

Didn't know that you guys ever had rattlers over there... Some beautiful brookies there!

Terry said...

Amazing fish and pics.