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  • Matt Reilly


After a long several months, the moment has finally come. A heavy cold front rolled through the region around the official change of season. Fall started with water temperatures down 10-12 degrees from the bitter end of summer. A season of warm weather, great streamflows, happy fish, and consistent fishing has met a new season of low water, high skies, cold water, and fish in transition--and Hurricane Ian, as I write this, threatens to drop inches of water across the region. Summer is deader than a doornail.

However, there's lots of great fishing to look back on. The month of July was a challenging one, as the Dog Days threw punch after punch of rain at us, requiring us to run around, checking conditions and hunting for the best possible scenario. August was one of the best that I can remember, with some dry, very stable weather, and some of the best bug fishing I've seen, certain days. September saw a continuation of that, until the middle of the month, when cold fronts started knocking back water temperatures slowly, each week.

Our clients put a lot of memorable days on the books, this summer season. I got to personally watch longtime friend and client, Trip, put the year's longest smallmouth, and his biggest fish by far, in the net, during a string of excellent fishing in August. I also got to watch client and friend, Brian, put his first 20"+ smallmouth--a big, 21-inch fish--in the boat on one of his own hand-made bugs. I had the pleasure of guiding several first-time smallmouth anglers, as well, and a few of them started their careers with giant fish. I got to hear and revel in the exclamation "I'll never trout fish again!" This is why I love what I do.

The last week--the first week of the fall--has seen some of the most challenging fishing of the year. Some very nice fish were still put in the boat, but it is on these days that I'm exceptionally thankful for my clientele and their willingness to trust me and work hard in the face of challenging conditions.

The rain that Hurricane Ian will bring will be greatly appreciated in southwest Virginia. It will likely put us off the water for a few days, but it'll set us up nicely for a fall of full rivers. The rapid drop in water temperatures on our smallmouth rivers cold-shocked our fish, this week, but the cooler temperatures, once the fish adjust and begin feeding heavily in preparation for winter, will turn into some very good streamer fishing.

Our mountain trout streams have been quite low as well, this summer and early fall, and generation on the local tailwaters has been minimal. The dropping water temps have made the trout happy, and a shot of water will set us up for a great fall and winter of trout fishing. Nymphing will be the prevailing tactic for putting numbers of wild rainbows and brown trout in the net while wading the mountain streams in the Mount Rogers region. We'll also begin targeting large brown and rainbow trout with streamers on our local tailwaters in the coming months, a program that we'll carry through the spring.

Towards the end of October, we'll also begin pursuing musky with flies for the fall and winter months.

Currently, we're booked through the first week of November. Fall and winter are months of diversity. Whether you want to find solitude catching feisty wild rainbows and browns on some of the most productive mountain streams in the Southeast, learn streamer fishing techniques and swing for big brown trout on the tailwaters, or hunt for the elusive musky on the ancient New River, now is your time.

We look forward to fishing with you!

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