Words and Images from Ed Felker

Archive for November, 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections


This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge theme is reflections. I chose this unique look at the reflection on the bottom of the water’s surface, as a rainbow trout is released back into the gin clear waters of Virginia’s Rose River at Rose River Farm.

Fishing in Madison County, Virginia

I spent a couple of days fishing in beautiful Madison County, VA with my friends Andrew, shown here on the left, who set up the trip as a birthday celebration, and Josh. I met Josh several years ago through Project Healing Waters, and while I always look forward to seeing him at PHW events, he is very much in demand at those events, so it was nice to spend some quality fishing time with him.

We started out with a day of fishing at Rose River Farm, a wonderful private stretch of water that holds some big, strong rainbows, with a few beautiful browns mixed in. Here Andrew targets some trout that were still sluggish in the cold morning water.

Josh ties on one of his favorite flies.

Conditions were perfect as the day warmed up. The water was gin clear.

Josh getting a nice drift.

This beautiful rainbow survived a heron attack and has the scar to show for it.

William from Eastern Trophies Fly Fishing was also fishing the Rose that day. I know William from his volunteer work with PHW and was glad he was there. He not only took this photo of me with a beautiful rainbow, he provided the fly I caught it on. Thanks William!

The day wound down, and we said goodbye to the Rose River. After a slow morning, the fish got pretty active in the afternoon and the late day dry fly fishing was incredibly fun. A great day on the river.

Andrew had arranged to rent one of the three luxury cabins at Rose River Farm.

The cabins are beautifully designed and furnished, and your eye is immediately drawn to the skylight atop the conical ceiling.

I have never tied a fly before. But Josh, an accomplished fly tier who sells his flies on his Dead Drift Flies web site, offered to teach me how to tie one. The wooly bugger is a common beginner fly design, and is also something I could fish the next day as we headed into the Shenandoah National Park in search of brook trout. So this is what I tied. It is far from perfect, but Josh insisted it wasn’t awful for a first attempt.

The next morning brought temperatures at least 20 degrees colder than the previous day, a change that can sometimes turn off fishing altogether. But we decided to head into the park and give it a try. After a vigorous uphill hike to reach some nice pools, it wasn’t long before my first ever fly tricked this beautiful brookie.

It’s hard to believe I fished the entire previous day in short sleeves, as 24 hours later we were regularly cleaning the ice out of the eyelets!

The brook trout are typically small here in the park, with some exceptions, but if there is a more beautiful fish you can catch on a fly rod in the eastern part of the United States, I do not know what it is.

We worked hard for those little brookies, but were all very excited when Andrew caught his first brook trout ever!

Josh shows off his first of the day. Beautiful.

Josh proving, and not for the first time this day, that he has better balance with one arm than I do with two.

It was a wonderful day of hiking, scrambling on rocks to access hard to reach pools, and catching stunningly beautiful trout. A fantastic couple of days in a beautiful part of the state with great company and cooperative fish. Can you ask for anything more?

The Nation’s River: A New Documentary will Examine the Potomac

Anyone who sees the title of this blog would deduce that the Potomac River is a big part of my life. Last week I wrote this piece for the Huffington Post, about the Potomac River, the Clean Water Act, and the announcement of an important documentary series focusing on the health of our nation’s rivers. Below is an excerpt from that article:

The Nation’s River (working title), from producer/director Hunter Weeks and Washington, D.C.-based producer Joe Cantwell, along with presenting sponsor Trout Headwaters, Inc., will focus on this important watershed and the challenges the Potomac has faced – and still faces. The film will also set the stage for a series of river-based films. Weeks’ last film, Where the Yellowstone Goes, a poignant portrait of the longest undammed river in the continental United States and a film I admire a great deal, will be showing November 17th at the Alexandria Film Festival. After the film, Weeks will officially announce the new project and launch the series of river-based films exploring, in the words of Trout Headwaters, Inc.’s Mike Sprague, “how important healthy rivers are to the health of our nation.”

The film, slated to begin production next spring, may surprise some who view the past 40 years of the Clean Water Act as an absolute environmental success. The balance between growth and the protection of natural resources is delicate and never-ending, and the stewards of those resources fight an uphill battle. Weeks, in his signature artful, thoughtful and compelling way, is sure to shed some interesting light on the CWA in what he calls, “The Food, Inc. of water films.” (Food, Inc. is a 2008 documentary about the food industry. It is not a flattering portrayal.)

The screening and a lovely reception sponsored by Trout Headwaters, Inc. took place on the Cherry Blossom boat docked on the Potomac.

It was a beautiful and unique venue, and the movie was well attended by close to 150 people.

Producer Joe Cantwell announces the river-based documentary series.

“I’m excited for this story on the Potomac River,” Weeks said. “This river represents our nation in so many ways, from its rich historical perspective and pure individual beauty to the ways it has fought to be cleaner during a time of massive urban growth.”

UPDATE: Where the Yellowstone Goes was awarded crowd favorite at the festival! Congratulations to all involved with the film.

Rainbows, Browns and Beer

I’ve been pressed for time since I got back, but wanted to get these photos up from my trip to New York. So I’m trying the slideshow feature. Let me know how you like it!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane/Superstorm/Frankenstorm Sandy has come and gone, but all that water has to go somewhere. The Potomac reached and surpassed flood stage yesterday. It’s already on its way down, but I snapped a few photos while it was still pretty high. The gauge at Point of Rocks, Maryland was at about 17 feet when these were taken. Flood stage is 16. For perspective, during the summer and fall when I wade fish or kayak, the river is between one and two feet at that gauge.

The parking lot and boat ramp at the C&O Canal in Brunswick, MD. The boat ramp goes downhill from those parking signs and normally hits the water well past that concrete bridge abutment.

Even the local news came down to see the high water.

The view from our yard on the Virginia side. When the rains come hard, the far bank of the river gets muddy first for some reason. Different sediment over there I guess. But before long the entire thing is the color of chocolate milk. And when it gets past about ten feet, when the water reaches the woods and pulls out debris, we start to see logs floating downstream.

The Platform survived without a scratch. And some ugly broken tree limbs that have been bugging me came the rest of the way down in the storm, improving a view that was already pretty great.

This is not really related, but heading down to the river I tried to get a picture of this weed. I don’t know what it is and I know it’s not in focus, but if I lived in rattlesnake country, these things would give me a heart attack! When you brush past them, the dried seed pods rattle like an angry rattlesnake!

Again, not a great photo, it was getting dark. But the water’s supposed to be on the far side of those trees. When things recede, it will be too muddy to explore probably until the ground freezes. Then I can go back down and find what the river has brought us. Usually nothing good. Broken coolers, plastic barrels, jugs and bottles. Once she brought me a safe, which got my hopes up briefly until I turned it over and found it was open and filled with mud.

A final note about Sandy. We were so lucky with this storm to escape with just a one day power outage. So many in New Jersey and New York are going to be struggling with the devastation for a long time to come. I have the luxury of beholding the wonder of nature’s Perfect Storm from a relative distance. But I do not take it lightly. I extend my sincere condolences to those in the storm’s path who have lost family, homes, pets and businesses. There but for the grace of God…