Words and Images from Ed Felker

Posts tagged “Rose River Farm

And Now a Word from our Sponsors…

I am very proud to announce this blog’s first paid advertisers! Welcome and a big THANK YOU to the following sponsors, whose ads are shown to the right. I encourage the readers of this blog to support these trusted businesses. Please click on the ads or the links below to learn more about them!

Eastern Trophies Fly Fishing. – Guided trips, instruction, beautiful flies or fly tying materials, William at Eastern Trophies has it all! Bookmark this site, you’ll be glad you did.

Dead Drift Flies – Josh Williams, veteran, outdoorsman, great fisherman, wonderful family man and he ties great flies too. I probably fish more with Dead Drift flies than any other!

Spring Creek Outfitters – If you long for a place where fly fishing is still a sport of solitude, the rivers of Western Maryland are where your wildest dreams become reality. And nobody knows these waters like Spring Creek’s Harold Harsh.

Rose River Farm – Western style fly fishing for trophy trout in Virginia and amazing, unique yurt-style luxury rental cabins, all set in wonderful, scenic Madison County, Virginia. One of my very favorite places in this beautiful state.

Visual Edge – Visual Edge is a full service landscape management company that can do it all. They’ll keep you looking good in the summer and they’ll clear the snow all winter long.

If you would like to advertise on Dispatches from the Potomac, email me and I’ll tell you how!

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Engaging in Something Different

IMG_1041I met former Miss Virginia Tara Wheeler through her involvement in Project Healing Waters. Tara, a proud supporter of our servicemen and women, has generously donated her time at the last few 2-Fly Tournaments serving as emcee. So when she got engaged to her fiance Jared, who she met while fishing, she thought the perfect place for an engagement photo shoot would be the beautiful Rose River Farm, Home Waters to Project Healing Waters and site of the annual 2-Fly.

When Tara asked me if I would shoot the photos, I was at once honored and terrified. “We really love your photography,” she said. To which I replied, “Um…have you noticed there are no people in my photographs?” I was well outside my comfort zone with this project, to say the least. But I agreed, and scouted some fun spots around the farm to shoot. On the day of the shoot, they brought with them a lot of love, energy and fun ideas.

I have the utmost respect for all those who do this for a living, and I do not purport to be a professional portrait photographer. But here are my favorite images from the day. Thank you Tara and Jared for trusting me with this important project, and congratulations on your engagement!

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7th Annual Project Healing Waters 2-Fly Tournament Raises $220,000

2F3Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing utilizes fly fishing and fly tying in the rehabilitation of disabled servicemen and women in Military Hospitals, VA Medical Centers and Warrior Transition Units all across the country. Their premier fundraising event is the 2-Fly Tournament held each year at Rose River Farm in Madison County, Virginia. The farm, dedicated as PHW’s Home Waters, is owned by PHW Chairman of the Board Douglas Dear. Douglas, who also serves as the chair of the 2-Fly committee, graciously offers the use of this special property to numerous charitable organizations throughout the year.

douglasThis year was the seventh annual event and it was a huge success by any measure. Everyone had a fantastic time, many fish were caught, and over $220,000 was raised to keep programs running across the nation. The 2-Fly has grown from humble beginnings seven years ago to a full weekend of activities. Things kick off Saturday with a casual pond bass and bluegill tournament in the afternoon, followed by a riverside cocktail party and dinner with a full program of special guests and inspiring speakers. Then the 2-Fly Tournament follows on Sunday, followed by an awards ceremony. Below are some of my favorite photos from the weekend that I hope convey a bit of the heart of this wonderful event…

A great addition to our Saturday evening festivities the last couple years has been the Virginia Patriot Guard Riders. Each year more and more patriotic motorcyclists ride in behind the colors, and it is a sight – and sound! – to behold. As for the parking violation? Well I’m certainly not going to tell them!

IMG_1106Another tradition has been great music from the Gold Top County Ramblers.

IMG_1122It was an absolutely perfect evening for an outdoor cocktail hour along the Rose River, with dinner supplied by Gentry’s Catering.

IMG_1131The founder of Project Healing Waters and a man I am proud to call a dear friend, Ed Nicholson.

IMG_1140Co-chair of the tournament (and bamboo rod maker extraordinaire) Jerry Nonnemacher worked tirelessly to pull together staff, volunteers, sponsors and other contributors to make this the smoothest running event yet.

IMG_1166Former Miss Virginia Tara Wheeler is Co-anchor of the Fox 21 27 in Morning News in Roanoke, VA. Tara has been the MC for our evening program for three years now and is a cherished friend of Project Healing Waters.

IMG_1185The only way to truly know how this program changes lives is to listen to the words of those whose lives have been directly impacted. Each year a handful of participants take the podium to share their deeply personal and sometimes painful experiences. CPT Eivind Forseth, US Army (Retired) is one of the first participants of the program. Eivind is a good friend and a powerful speaker. I know his story well, but hearing it again after not seeing him for a few years was quite emotional for me as well as the rest of the audience.

IMG_1194I met MSG John Paramore, US Army (Retired) at last year’s 2-Fly and got to spend a bit more time with him this year. His story of challenge, courage and triumph is truly inspirational.

IMG_1201After a special evening program and a silent auction that raised over $34,000 thanks to the generosity of those in attendance, and perhaps a little sleep, it was time for the Sunday tournament to begin! Ed Nicholson and Douglas Dear go over the rules.

IMG_1259I love this shot for one reason: Hats. Despite the fact that everyone has a hat in their possession, you won’t find a single hat being worn during Lisa Mei Norton’s beautiful rendition of the National Anthem. A wonderful display of shared respect and patriotism.

IMG_1270Alright, let’s get to some fishing! Thanks for hanging in this long if you have. Kiki Galvin was named PHW’s National Capital Region Volunteer of the Year this year. Here Kiki nets a nice rainbow caught by SFC Aaron Morse, US Army.

IMG_1275Long time supporter Harold Harsh oversees a drift from fellow Marine LCpl Ryan Wightman, USMC. Douglas Dear’s son Kyle built two of these ramps as an Eagle Scout project, and they help many wounded servicemen and women access water they would have difficulty reaching otherwise.

IMG_1296Guide Eric Stroup lends a helping hand to SSG (ret.) Rhonda Burleson, US Army as they try to find some nice fish.

IMG_1304Looks like they found the fish! Great job, Rhonda!

IMG_1352Look at the colors on that Rose River rainbow…

IMG_1427…as bright as the smile on the face of the man who caught it. Josh Williams, along with his wife Lisa, have become great friends of mine over the years, and I always look forward to seeing them. Josh gets a hand here from guide Phil Gay.

IMG_1429Harold Harsh lends a hand to Jessie Oliff, who came all the way from California to fish in the 2-Fly. Jessie and Josh teamed up for a third place finish in the tournament. Congratulations, Jessie!

IMG_1439SPC (ret.) Andrew Pike, US Army, who claims to have never fly fished before this week, fights one of many, many fish during the tournament under the guidance of pro guide Brian Wilson. Andrew is a great guy, I enjoyed spending some time with him and hope to see him back next year.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADuring lunch on Sunday, PHW President Ed Nicholson asked everyone in attendance who has ever served in uniform to gather around for a special presentation. Lefty Kreh served this country with honor from 1942 to 1947 and is a combat veteran from the Battle of the Bulge. He continues his service today as a generous supporter of Project Healing Waters, selflessly giving his time and sharing his talents and knowledge with our disabled active military and veterans. Thank you Lefty, what a great American.

IMG_1478Having experts like Lefty and Ed Jaworowski on hand all day to instruct participants is an invaluable service. I watched Ed teaching casting to this group and others in a steady rain for hours, never once suggesting they take a break or wait till things cleared up.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWashington Redskins safety Reed Doughty (#37) was on hand all weekend spending time with the participants, signing autographs and even catching a few trout. Reed, originally from Colorado, is a passionate fly fisherman. He’s also as friendly and down to earth as you can imagine. I’m a huge Skins fan anyway, but meeting someone you admire as a fan and finding out they’re a great person too, makes it even easier to root for them on the field.

reedYou remember Andy Pike from a few photos ago, the one who had never fly fished before? Well not only did he and his teammate SGT (ret.) Michael Davis, US Army win the Pro/Vet category of the tournament, Andy picked up this trophy for the biggest fish of the day, a 19″ rainbow. Congratulations Andy on a great tournament!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs successful as this event was, Project Healing Waters needs the support of donors and volunteers throughout the year to continue healing those who serve. Visit the PHW web site here to find out more about how you can help.


Common Bonds

IMG_0087From left to right: I met Matt many years ago when he showed up at a party at my house with a mutual acquaintance. He spotted a picture on our fridge of me with a Steelhead and we got to talking fly fishing. A few weeks later we were on a road trip together to upstate New York to fish for salmon and we remain great friends and fishing buddies. Harold, who runs the guide service Spring Creek Outfitters out of Western Maryland, was the first guide I ever fished with when I started fly fishing. Since then we have become friends through his generous work with Project Healing Waters. I first met Joel when a mutual online friend introduced us because Joel needed a fly fishing related logo design. We became fast friends, and his Missoula, Montana-based guide business Montana Troutaholics is an absolute must if you are planning a trip to that area to fish.

IMG_0025So myself and three friends I met because of fly fishing but who have never met each other, came together because of that shared passion for fly fishing at one of the best places for it, Rose River Farm.

IMG_0001The morning was fairly cold, and the fish were sluggish early on.

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But I was fishing with two of the best trout guides I know, so I was positive it was just a matter of time.

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In the afternoon, with just a hint of sun to warm the water a couple of degrees, things turned on and the fish became a lot more active.

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There was a little beer drinking going on as well, of course.

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Matt and Joel warming up by the grill before lunch.

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A hot lunch hit the spot after spending the cold morning in the water.

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Here’s Harold putting the bamboo to the test on a nice rainbow.

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And back you go into the Rose River.

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My biggest fish of the day.

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I think it’s safe to say the Rose was pretty clear!

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Joel always looks like he’s in a Simm’s ad or catalog cover.

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A full day of fishing behind us and more weekend adventures ahead for Joel and I, we all headed back to the wonderful luxury yurt-style cabin at Rose River Farm. More beer and many laughs went great with a few thick rib-eye steaks on the grill. A perfect end to a great day.

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Hanging around the fire pit was so much fun. There was weather coming in, but luckily it held off long enough.

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We were surprised the next morning to find a couple inches of fresh, wet snow on the ground!

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An unhurried, hearty breakfast started our day off right.

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I don’t drink coffee, but on this morning I could have used a cup or two!

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After breakfast, Joel and I headed into the Shenandoah National Park for some brook trout fishing and a vigorous hike. We stopped at a few pools along the way, but the fishing was pretty tough, quite possibly the result of the weather front that had just moved through.

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But Joel would not be discouraged! We tried many different flies to get the attention of these stubborn fish.

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Finally patience and skill paid off as Joel brought this little beauty to hand. Joel’s first native brookie, and also by far his farthest easterly fish caught in the U.S. So while not big, it was memorable.

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When we let this little guy go, we told him to tell all his friends that he was treated with care and respect and that the fly was delicious. But they didn’t get the message, this was the only fish of the day. I was psyched Joel got it though, and the company and great hike made for a fantastic day despite the fishing.

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This is my favorite photo of the day, and I encourage you to click on it to see it larger. Joel stepped off the path to try one more spot on the hike back, and I captured this cool panorama with my iPhone. Winter has its own brand of beauty, and while at first glance it can look pretty brown and dull outside, nature reveals wonderful, subtle colors in the winter. Sometimes we have to just remember to open our eyes and maybe look a little harder.

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The next day brought another opportunity to share with Joel, who has never been out this way, something that’s very special to me: A hike with Team Orange (my two Wirehaired Vizslas). I chose the more difficult trail at Maryland Heights, which has some neat Civil War history along the way.

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Another iPhone panorama from the summit, showing the historic town of Harper’s Ferry, WV, and the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers.

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A mellow evening after a fun filled weekend was in order, beginning with a final beverage on the Platform.

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The sun sets on the last day of Joel’s visit. I’m so grateful to have my friends together for some fishing down at Rose River Farm, and for the chance to spend some more time with Joel, he and his wife Debbie have been such gracious hosts to me when I’ve visited out west.

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Everyone was a bit tired after three days of fishing, hiking and drinking. So some couch time was what we were in the mood for, and Finn wasn’t going to let his new hiking buddy get too far away.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections

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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?


Healing Those Who Serve


Project Healing Waters held its sixth annual 2-Fly Tournament this past weekend and it was, as it always is, an amazing experience for all involved. Rose River Farm was declared PHW’s national home waters at last year’s event, and it’s a perfect venue for this quickly growing tradition.

Project Healing Waters “is dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and veterans through fly fishing and fly tying education and outings,” says their mission statement. An unquestionably noble mission it is, and founder Ed Nicholson’s vision is made possible because countless volunteers and donors and corporations generously give time and money and equipment to support it.

This year’s event was the biggest and best yet! Please visit the PHW web site for more information or to make a donation to this cause that has changed the lives of so many men and women who have sacrificed so much. I hope you enjoy some of the sights from this year’s event…


A time lapse film of all the volunteers and anglers arriving early Sunday morning.


One of the participants’ daughters helping out.


The healing power of simply being in nature can not be understated.


I’ve met many great people through my involvement with PHW. Josh is a friend, a new doting father and one hell of a fly fisherman. You can read more about him and purchase amazing flies from him on his Dead Drift Flies web site.


Douglas Dear, in the foreground here welcoming the participants, works tirelessly all year long on this event and as Chairman of PHW’s board.


It’s hard to find anyone not in a great mood at this event!


Guides like Harold from Spring Creek Outfitters give freely of their time and expertise year after year to make sure the wounded servicemen and women get the very most from their experience.


Oh yeah, there are also some huge trout in the Rose River!


Sometimes captions just aren’t needed.


Choosing the right fly is tough when you only get to choose two for the entire day!


Measuring a catch.


Entertainment, food, logistics…so many people come through to put on an event like this.


Everywhere you turn, moments like this are unfolding. Josh used to play guitar before he lost his arm. So he and Russ teamed up to play a few songs.


We focus a lot on the wounded, and sometimes overlook the sacrifices, the painful adjustments the families of those wounded have to endure. God bless them all.


Hiking for Brook Trout in Shenandoah National Park


Every now and then I’m in the mood to do a long hike, which for me is anything over five miles. The Cedar Run/White Oak Canyon loop in the Shenandoah National Park has a few different configurations, but last year I did an eight mile loop which is plenty, considering half of that is steeply uphill. So I decided to repeat this very enjoyable and vigorous hike, with one addition: this time I brought a fly rod. Both Cedar Run and White Oak Canyon are home to some of the most beautiful brook trout you’ll find anywhere. And since during my last outing in search of brookies I got shut out, I had a score to settle.

The Cabins at Rose River Farm are an awesome place for any weekend getaway, and a Saturday night stay allowed me to get a nice early start Sunday morning as I was literally just minutes from the trail head.
The Hill Top Cabin offers great views and is an extremely relaxing place to put the work week behind you and focus on the outdoors!

This is the type of water found along both legs of this hike. Falls at the head of a pool, surrounded by great scenery.

In the early morning, I could see trout rising in almost all of those pools, so I just started fishing them and it wasn’t long before this beauty fell for my antics.

Not all that’s beautiful is under water along this hike!

Trout don’t live in ugly places.

I have to brag on this wonderful little 3-weight Scott fly rod of mine. It casts beautifully, and a lot of the casting in these confined places has to be pretty accurate. It’s only 6’6″ long which helps too.

Back you go, little fella!

Nice view of the beautiful White Oak Canyon.

This is, without a doubt, a very large Shenandoah National Park brook trout. My best brook trout by a wide margin.

Another look at the same fish.

This is the payoff for all that uphill hiking!

A three foot black snake sharing the trail.

This one escaped before he reached me, but I was able to get his picture before he got too far.

Life is good indeed. Bringing the fly rod along made for a longer, but much more enjoyable day!

Eight miles = Four Advil. I’ll feel it tomorrow, but the excitement of dry fly fishing for wild brook trout in stunning scenery will have me back very soon!


Rose River Farm

Some photographic highlights from a fun day at Rose River Farm

I tried to take a picture of Kevin from under the surface of the water. When the (waterproof) camera was completely submerged, the photos didn’t turn out. But this one from just at surface level I thought had a neat effect.

This is one of the prettiest trout I’ve ever caught. The colors are amazing, and the pattern at first made me think it could have been a tiger trout (brown/brook hybrid), but I’m now thinking it’s just a really freakin’ cool brown trout.

Love my Sage 4-weight!

Cook a few slices of bacon, crumble it up and put it back into the grease, add an egg, some Worcestershire sauce, Montreal steak seasoning and a pound of ground venison, divide it into two colossal patties, add a slice of smoked Gouda and a toasted kaiser roll and you have one serious streamside lunch!

One of my favorite shots of the day.

Okay about a year and a half ago, I brought Winnie to the farm and planted three Chukar for her to find and point. I shot one, another escaped while I was trying to get it out of the cage, and I don’t remember what happened to the third. I was sure surprised to see this very large and healthy Chukar right next to the river not 50 yards from the field where we did that bird training! Now that is making the most out of a second chance!

The sun sets on a beautiful, fun day on the water at Rose River Farm.