Thursday to Sunday trip to the very upmost (meaning upstream) part of the New River Gorge was a success. It was a success in that I made it there and returned home. As far as the fishing, it was definitely off. We had some of the best smallmouth fishing guys around there, (including the infamous Al A and Dirty Ed from P-net) and I think it was Al A that got the most but that number was still well below what I can normally catch with more meager skills.
Anyway, the water was warm and low, but not as low as I've seen it in August before. The weather was mildly unstable with middle of the night rains and heavy mist in the early morning burning off to fairly clear skies during the day. Except Saturday, Saturday it was cooler (roughly 80 degrees air temp) and overcast all day. That was the best catching day. That was also the day I got to fish and paddle with Dirty Ed and Al A. I followed Dirty Ed to learn from his lines through the mild rapids and chatted with Al A. Let me tell you , Al can handle a canoe!
The fish could not be patterned. I didn't find a pattern any day, except on Saturday I guess you could say that they related to bank. But it wasn't the same kind of bank. Sometimes rocky, sometimes sunny, sometimes sandy, sometimes shaded. No real consistency. No one lure or presentation seemed to work effectively either. Very "off" fishing for the whole period.
The trip - Thursday slow trip with construction and blasting on the highway and other delays at home before starting. I got there, set camp, and then plopped my behind in my hammock and chilled out until beer o'clock. Beer o'clock turned into whiskey o'clock and I pulled out my guitar. About that time Dirty Ed came with his and we swapped songs until 2:00AM. Actually Dirty Ed played songs and as that bottle of whiskey became more and more empty, I started playing two thirds then half of songs before I couldn't remember chords and lyrics.
Friday I got off to a slow start (as one would imagine), but feeling fine. Then I banged my head on my truck door frame getting something out of the back seat and gave myself a minor concussion, so we just paddled a short section. On that short section I hit the one and only hole in a wide shoals rapid but popped out thankfully, then got pinned on the one rock of another riverwide ledge on a wide river. The river was flowing THROUGH my boat at one point. I got off by crawling onto the rock and feeding the boat through holding the painter then crawling into the boat while it sat in the eddy. No fish that trip, but I fished the heck out of the whole river, taking four hours or so to fish a 2 1/2 mile section of river.
Friday night I remained whiskey free and played and sang much better, which went on until roughly 1AM, at which point I fell asleep in my chair, being awakened at an unknown hour by the clinking of beer bottles when someone folded up their chair to call it a night.
Saturday was a longer stretch with better water. I got four fish, with the limits as before. It was a treat to fish and paddle with Dirty Ed. I've known him for something like eight years and never once floated with him. Al A was also on that trip and it was good to get to know him in person rather than just on the boards. Fun guy (not a fungi, a fun guy). I broke my favorite rod, but Dirty Ed had a spare he lent me. The buddy whom I had loaned a canoe broke one of the paddles eddying out, a mile above the largest rapid. So he took a tandem through with his wife in the bow with only one paddle. He did it people side up, so it all worked out.
Saturday night was no music, just BS around a campfire. I went to bed early and fell asleep reading with the light on. At some point during the night we had a ferocious rain storm that awakened me. When it had passed, I had to pass something too and went outside. I unzipped the door wrong and tripped over the tent door, wrenching my back.
Sunday was pack up and head home, which I did with a wrenched back. I scalded the coffee and so that was terrible tasting too. So, on the way home I stopped with my friends at a Bob Evans where our grungy selves scared the after church crowd, but I ate enough for three people and coffee to top it off. Two heavy rains and accidents and highway blockages on the way home. I used some of my driving around the hinterlands in search of putins knowledge to use and wound around the heart of Virginia to get home without highways.
It's Monday morning and the truck is still packed. I better get busy.
- Big D