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  • Matt Reilly


We've fallen out of the habit of publishing regular fishing reports because our guiding operations were halted for a spell during the peak of the Covid-19 outbreak, but we're hopping back on the train, right now. As you know if you subscribe to this website, we have slowly been getting back to normal, here, and starting June 10, we'll be 100% back. It's certainly been a strange spring, sitting on the sidelines in some cases, avoiding float trip partners and shuttle drivers, but we've been enjoying some great fishing where we can, and we're looking forward to a memorable summer. Here's what's been going on in our neck of the woods.

Our fall/winter musky season went out with a memorable bang. My concluding float for the season was spent with Clint, a trout guide from Tennessee, on a high water day on the New River. It was his third musky trip, and he had seen about as much success as one can see while musky fishing without actually putting one in the net. In what turned out to be a laughable chain of events, Clint got his first musky in the boat not long into the day--and it was a giant! Read the whole story HERE.

The same warm weather in mid-March that brought an early close to our winter musky season also allowed us to get a jump on spring smallmouth fishing. In some of the smaller rivers in our region, we saw some mid-afternoon water temps reach 60 degrees (the general temperature when spawning activity typically gets hot and heavy) by March 30, and we observed some fish on nests as early as the first week of April. A cold snap that lasted through the latter half of April and the majority of May dropped water temps back down into the low- to mid-50s and made for a great, and prolonged, pre-spawn fishing pattern. The bulk of the spawn finally kicked off back around the third full week in May. We've seen tremendous flooding around the region since then, which can be a colossal enemy to successful smallmouth recruitment, but, we've been documenting proof of some successful spawning in certain areas over the past week, as fry have begun to hatch, which is promising.

The bulk of April and May smallmouth fishing was dominated by cold snaps that kept us on our toes, fishing deep and slow after frosts and cold fronts, and moving up the water column as things warmed up. We've had about two solid weeks of great topwater action, where water levels and conditions have allowed, and it's got us thinking about the many long, beautiful summer days on the river that are surely to come.

Trout fishing has been great all spring, as we've been receiving regular shots of water keeping the creeks full. The slow spring that we had broke down our traditional hatch dates, and particularly through the end of April and early May, we had lots of different bugs out and about in some numbers every day. As I write this, our water is dropping from the last bit of heavy rain we got, and the weather is warm. Grasshoppers, inchworms, crickets, and the like have been out and about for several weeks, now, and the fish are well aware. We're lucky in southwest Virginia to have cold, flowing water all summer, and we can have some of our best and most relaxing days of fishing during the warm months, fishing terrestrial dry flies to hungry wild trout.

From here on out, we'll be focusing on smallmouth bass float trips with some trout fishing sprinkled in. For those that enjoy topwater fishing, both of these options are prime in the summer. July, August, and September really offer the fly angler one of their best shots at trophy smallmouth, and the fishing is typically very visual and memorable. Terrestrial fishing also takes some of our biggest trout of the year, as they can feed aggressively on these large, helpless morsels wherever they are present. Both patterns will last until we have a few hard frosts, generally in early- to mid-October.

If you'd like to kick the Coronavirus cabin fever to the curb, give us a shout, and we'll start planning an experience you won't forget!

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