Words and Images from Ed Felker

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?


7 responses

  1. That, my friend, is pure awesomeness!

    November 25, 2012 at 11:28 am

    • Thanks Joel. I’ve always known it would be a special experience to catch a fish on a fly I created. But catching a native brookie on my very first fly was really cool! We actually caught about five trout on that fly before, sadly, I snagged it on a log and lost it.

      November 25, 2012 at 11:48 am

  2. Looks like a great time was had by all! I would have loved to have fished with all of you..

    November 25, 2012 at 11:58 am

  3. Andrew Jenkins

    Joel, I couldn’t have described it better! Brookies are the most beautiful fish I’ve ever laid eyes on, BY FAR! The whole trip was special especially to me, but you could see how special this farm and park are to josh and Ed from the excitement all the way there to standing in the parking lot at the departure when none of us wanted to leave. We said about 4 different goodbyes over 30 mins when really it was three men not wanting the trip to end. Fishing with these guys combined with the AMAZING Rose River Farm and Shenandoah National Park is a weekend I will never forget! EVER!

    November 25, 2012 at 12:19 pm

  4. Awesome way to spend the weekend with great friends on the water!

    November 25, 2012 at 3:44 pm

  5. Jonathan Thoburn

    Absolutely wonderful! Sounds like a a great time! Love the pics Ed.

    November 25, 2012 at 10:09 pm

  6. Lisa Williams

    Ed, your fly rocks! I’m so glad you tied one AND caught a brookie with it!!! Awesome:)

    November 28, 2012 at 12:40 pm

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