Fly Fishing for Trout in Hot Springs, Virginia, March 24, 2017

Kosar wild torut caught 03-24-2017a

My first rainbow trout. Photo credit: Kevin R. Kosar

I tried fly fishing for the first time yesterday. Boy is it different from chucking for bass or going deep for catfish.

To give me half a chance of succeeding, I hired an Orvis-trained guide from Allegheny Activities in the Homestead, a grand old hotel in Hot Springs, Virginia.

I was outfitted with chest-high waders and an Orvis 8’6″ 5-wt Clearwater rod.

We fished the Cascades Stream in five different spots. I scored a young, wild rainbow trout, and got hits a half-dozen other times. I had a big trout on my hook for 45 seconds or so, but lost him because I had the line too tight. (He swam upward and popped the hook out.)

The pointers I picked up up from Chris, my unbelievably knowledgeable guide, include:

  1. Trout eat year round and can be fished year round.
  2. Trout love bugs, especially the bugs that are alive and active at the time of year when you are fishing. (Different bugs, different stages of life—hence oodles of flies in the fly fisherman’s arsenal.)
  3. Fishing on cloudy days is preferable — trout have very good eyes, and if they see you they won’t bite.
  4. The thinner the line at the end, the less visible it is to the trout. So a fly rod will have three different lines: the thick very visible fly line, the much thinner leader and the still thinner tippet (to which the fly is tied).
  5. Trout like heavily oxygenated water—which can be found right after a rapids area. They almost inevitably face upstream, waiting for the current to bring them something tasty.
  6. Throw your fly upstream and the trout will charge forward for it or watch it go by and double downstream to chase it.
  7. After you cast upstream, flip the line to create a pocket of line that will float the fly downstream. When the fly has drifted by, slowly lift it from the water and keep an eye out for pursuit strikes.
  8. Try dry flies if the trout look like they are biting at the surface; try nymphs to see if they want to hit beneath the water. (Again, pay attention to the bugs—are they hovering over the water? And turn over some rocks in the stream to see what nymphs are under them, and choose a nymph fly that looks like them. If a bee or yellow jacket nest hangs above the water, don;t be surprised if you see trout hanging out beneath it waiting for a stinging bug to bumble into the water. Try a fake bee or yellow jacket fly.)
  9. Streamers are used when you want to elicit an underwater bite through busy action. (Here is a good primer.) To create movement and rises and falls in the streamer, one strips (pull in) line with the left hand (use your right index finger or pinky to keep the slack line you’re bringing in from fouling the reel.
  10. Dry flies can get soaked with water and start sinking. So, false-cast the fly quickly through the air, whipping it back and forth.
  11. When fishing nymphs or streamers, you the newbie should use a strike detector—a small float place a good ways up the line. Seeing an underwater fly is very tough—hence the strike detector, which will dive or jerk sharply when there is a hit.
  12. Speaking of a hit, when it happens quickly pop your wrist upright to set the hook, and maintain some tension as you wear the trout down as it runs. The fly line at the end is very lightweight and can snap if you yank it.
  13. If the stream is running quickly, it may be hard to get the nymphs or streamers down low to where the trout are. So, tiny split shot lead sinkers may be added up the line.
  14. I imagined that fly fishing for trout inevitably meant casting into shallow waters. This was not entirely right. My guide Chris had me work one spot that was 18-foot deep. We used a hefty streamer and splits shots and we let the fly drift then sink 6 to 10 feet down. I got bites during the initial drop, and also deep down. That’s where I got hold of a big trout that I kept on hook for 45 seconds or so.
  15. Wet your hands before handling a trout—it has oil on its body that can be damaged by dry hands. Lift the fish with your palms up. Return it to the water promptly with its face upstream, and hold it above the tail until it is strong enough to take off.

There are innumerable other tips and such, but this is what I presently recall from yesterday’s trip. If I got anything wrong or if you want to share any tips, please post below.

Kosar wild torut caught 03-24-2017b.jpg

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Catfishing Near Reagan National Airport, February 6, 2017


Near where Four Mile Run feeds into the Potomac and just south of the airport is a place to catch catfish, according to Elstan Perez and Luke of Catfish & Carp. Both these guys were fishing this spot in December 2016 and January 2017 when the weather appeared to be in the 40s. (Elstan tells me it was mid-50s when he was there.)

Elstan used cut yellow perch; Luke used a carp rig with panko-jello-corn pack bait and frozen cut shad on a 4/0 hook.

Where to park? Elstan writes: “parking cost me $17 Long term economy parking [at Reagan airport]. You can find parking across the bridge at the grocery store or somewhere nearby for free if you didn’t want to walk half a mile or more.” And he bought two perch for $2.50 at Fresh World market.

So I gave it a whirl, and you can get full details here. Yes, I got a catfish, and you can see the video of it here.

Two pieces of advice: consider parking at Potomac Yards Shopping Center for free. And do bring some sort of stakes to prop up your fishing pole, as the stream’s shore is a mix of long grass and rocks held under wiring.

Reeling in a Channel Catfish (2 min 32 seconds)

Bluegills, Bass, and Catfish at Four Mile Run, February 6, 2017


This is urban fishing, for sure. Upfront I should say that this is not an easy place to fish for anyone who is not in decent condition. To fish Four Mile Run stream (history here) requires keeping one’s balance on a slope made of rocks and covered with metal fence-like material. It is slippery, and there is plenty of brush and such.

But the hassles are worth it. Four Mile Run stream offers lights-out fishing. There are tons of bluegills (easily taken on a size 6 snell, bobber, and worm) and large-mouth bass (I scored mine of a pumpkin green Senko worm Texas-rigged. Cast, let it drop for a few seconds, and slow reel in.) The bass range from pipsqueaks (6 inches) to hogs (7 pounds). Guys fishing drop-shot rigs with Senko and Zoom worms tend to do very well here. One inevitable challenge around this bridge is snags—they happen a lot.

Bluegill and bass are plentiful near and under the Jefferson Davis Highway bridge (south side of the stream).

Kosar bluegill 02-0602017.jpg

Photo credit: Kevin R. Kosar.

To chase catfish, walk eastward all the way to where the creek meets the Potomac River (map here). I put out four lines today with fresh cut bluegill. I had two serious bites in two hours, and one produced a 10-pound channel catfish. It was a sizable one, but there are much bigger ones in there—forty to fifty pounders have been recorded by guys on FishBrain. The water level rises and falls, but fishing seems to be good here whatever the tide.

You can park in the Potomac Yards parking lot, which puts you a few minute walk from entry to the stream edge next to Jack Taylor Alexandria Toyota. Yes, you could get towed from the shopping center lot, in theory, but I have staved off this threat thus far by buying drinks and snacks from Shoppers and leaving the receipt and shoppers plastic bag on my dashboard.

kosar-channel-catfish-02-06-2017

Photo credit: Kevin R. Kosar.

2/7/2017 Update

Turns out the same day I was here, the Metropolitan Angler was landing small bass with a Rapala hard bait. You can see him do it in this video, and you can watch me pull in this catfish.

Fishing Four Mile Run and Gravelly Point Article

The August 2012 copy of the Washingtonian magazine carried this helpful article: https://www.washingtonian.com/2012/08/07/fish-tales/ It also had this below map.

Regarding Four Mile Run, the guys on FishBrain advise working the area near the Toyota Dealership (3750 Jefferson Davis Highway) for bass and bluegill (stay on the surface—plenty of snags below!), and another local angler advises fishing a not-long walk west in front of the water treatment plant (3400 Glebe, roughly), whose waters often are warmer (winter) and cooler (summer) than the surrounding water.

Large-mouth Bass Fishing in Warrenton, Virginia, June 13-14, 2016

On June 13 and 14, 2016, I was at a  retreat held at Airlie House in Warrenton Virginia. The front desk supplied a rod with spincasting reel (a cheap Zebco) and 8-pound line. The weather was sunny one day and cloudy the next. Stanley Lake behind the  main house of the hotel is stocked with bass

The temperature was 75 degrees or so. I shore-fished on a current-less lake. The lure that quickly proved effective was a black Zoom 6-inch or so rubber worm (flat tail-not round and bulbous like the below image) with a hook run through it. No weight was needed. Since the fish were large mouth bass, a larger (but not catfish big) offset worm hook run through the worm was best.

Black zoom worm.jpg

Off-set worm hook

When those hooks ran out, I got by with a larger standard hook, but found myself getting hung up in the bottom weeds more often. A clinch knot with an extra square knot above it held it firm.

The technique was cast, let sink for 5-10 seconds (the lake was maybe 6-10 foot deep?) and then reel slowly in. Bass sometime hit it as it sank, and also as it came in—even only a few feet from the shores. If I saw signs of life, like fish nipping the surface, I‘d cast there and land one quickly. If it was still water, I would cast maybe a half dozen times and if there was no hits I would move on. Best fishing was near shade-casting trees.

All told, in about 3.5 hours of fishing over 4 sessions I caught 13 or more fish, ranging from 8 inches to nearly 20 inches. They fought well, but each was brought in within 30 seconds.

Large-mouth Bass 06-14-2016