Central VA Streams in Third Week of April
Introduction - I just picked up fly fishing in September as a supplement to my spin fishing. Been practicing 3-5 times per week all winter on the lawn and my casting has gotten to a level where I feel comfortable in most on-the-water situations. As the weather has been warming up, this is my "first season" so-to-speak of fly fishing, and it's just getting started. I'm learning that there is a lot more to fly fishing in water than just laying a nice long cast on the grass.
I've fished twice this week, first on Tuesday evening (4/17) for about 45 minutes, on a warmwater stream I cross on my way home from work; it flows into the Roanoke River. The water temperature was probably in the upper 50s (not measured) and the air was in the mid 70s with mostly cloudy skies. This was ahead of a storm system that passed throught on Wednesday. The first 30 minutes were with my spinning rod and I tried a vibrating crankbait, a floating minnow crankbait, a straight spinner, and a grub tail jig, with no hookups, but several weak bites. I was about ready to give up and go to dinner, but I decided I should at least give my fly rod a chance. I tied on a Walmart #10 Woolly Bugger and bam!, had a nice readbreast on the first cast. Took another smaller readbreast a couple minutes later, then packed it in. There were some smallmouth nearby, because they were busting the surface occasionally and making some minnows jump out of the water, but none of them hit any of my lures. I also saw a 16"-18" sucker headed downstream; I presume it may have just finished spawning as it looked somewhat tired and was more colorful than suckers usually are.
Yesterday afternoon (4/19), I stole away from work for a about an hour to a slightly smaller stream in a Lynchburg city park; it flows into the James River. No spinning rod this time, just the fly rod. The weather was post-frontal, but still overcast and not too cold, probably mid 60s. The water was definitely below 60, and maybe close to 50. It was slightly colored, but not muddy despite the previous day's 1/2" of rain. I started off with a Betts popper above a bead-head nymph on about an 18" dropper. It took me a while to find the fish in the first and largest pool, but once I did, I caught about 8 fish in as many minutes. They were all either redbreast 5"-7" or pumpkinseed 3"-4". Only a couple of the larger fish put up much fight, which I presume was because of the cold water. I only noticed two hits to the popper, and neither resulted in a hookup; all fish that were landed came on the nymph. After feeling like I had a pretty good handle on that pool, I began working my way downstream through an area with a lot of shallow riffles. I picked up a few more sunfish, but at one point I lost my rig to the brush on the other side of the stream. Since I hadn't been getting many topwater hits, I decided to go straight to the famed Woolly Bugger. Hopefully that would be big enough to tempt any nearby smallmouth as well. I picked up a few more sunfish on the Bugger before heading back to work, but alas, no smallmouth yesterday either.
Hope you get a chance to get out as well.
Last edited by waskeyc; 04-20-2012 at 06:41 PM.
Reason: Changed air temp on Tues after lookup on NWS