Set up camp on Thursday at Low-water Bridge Campground. We wade fished that evening with our fly rods. I couldn’t buy a bite, but my fishing partner did pretty well. He got about a dozen different panfish from between ledges. My indicator kept sliding down to my fly and it was a real pain.
The next day, I played guide to row my canoe on a six mile section that ended near the campground. We found the best fishing to be in current seams near riffles. My friend took many fish that way while I back-rowed to keep us in position. It was great to see him take so many fish. Most came on a “smoke” grub fished on a 3/16 oz ball head jig. We later found that the small fish were really keyed into something on the surface, we never did figure out what. I started throwing a popper during a leg stretch/wade and got a response on nearly every cast, but the fish were so small that none were hooked. I chose not to put on a small popper to hook such small fish. It was fun watching them blow up on the popper and knock it around. Later in the day we got to some slow water and began indicator fishing. This time I had the sense to tie on a hopper dropper instead of an indicator. I got a few hits, but by then I was tired and making silly errors. On one hookset, I put a bluegill into orbit.
The next day it was individual kayaks on the next four miles of river. We fished it slow and methodically, taking our own sweet time to really enjoy the sites and to get out and wade from time to time. It was six hours on the river for four miles of water. I took only a spinning rod and my friend took only a fly rod. He had a mixed bag - catching panfish, a sucker, largemouth and smallmouth - all on the same indicator rig. It was a fly popular in Britain. All I can say is that it looked like a hairy bit of beef jerky on a hook. As a joke, another fellow who was along actually chummed for him with some beef jerky bits in a backwater channel, but the joke was on him as it worked beautifully. I fished a Case Jack’s Worm on an unweighted hook. Cast out on a quartering cast downstream (long casts, as the water was low and clear), then give it time. Nothing of large size. The largest was a 13" largemouth caught by another friend. But all who were fishing were catching, each of us using a different technique. The friend who caught the largemouth was fishing a smoke grub on an EWG worm hook and a couple of large split shot up front to get it low in the water. Most fish were found in deeper water. There was scant little actually “deep” water, but where there were holes in the bottom, that’s where the fish were. Long casts or light tippets were necessary because of the extreme water clarity.
Each evening was campfire music. One night we had six different pickers around the campfire, each sharing a song before the next played. We kept it going that way for a long time. I heard some darned good music, and others heard me play.
You were fishing my home turf!
You were in my stretch of the Shenandoah! My family has had a riverfront lodge about 1/2 way between Bentonville and the Front Royal public landing for over 35 years…You may have actually passed by me and my gang of cronies as we sat in the swimming hole enjoying a cold beverage out of our bouy cooler. We would have been the ones shouting “Paddle Faster!” and “Don’t stand up, those rocks hurt when you bounce your head off them!” LOL
I can tell you that the fishing in that area is outstanding! I have never been skunked on bait, lure, fly, whatever. You may have been falling into some of the ‘old standards’ which sometimes do not fish well around there…
the trick to getting hits on nearly every cast is to pick your spots well. Look for the ridge at the downstream side of the deeper holes (deeper can be 2-3’ or 10’+). Park yourself slightly upstream, and cast about 1 foot in front of the shallow rock ledge. Present your bait across the hole, and WHAMMO! you will get action. Also, presenting lures and fly in the eddy just off the current at the bottom of the ripple/rapid will produce great results…
The best times are sunrise to about 10-10:30 a.m. and in the evening after like 5:30. When the sun is high, the fish seem to lose interest…
The best spin casting baits (aside from live bait which always kills) seem to be smaller birght or flashy lures. I use a 2" Big O which has a BB floating freely in the body, it is green/black striped on top with bright yellow and safety orange on the belly. I have had bass, channel cat and sunfish/bluegill all hit this lure. The cream worms work well on a #4 hook with a split shot or 2 attached just below the loop on the hook line. Also, a few of my cronies like to use a minnow lure with a small shining spoon which spins as the lure is pulled through the water. 4th of July weekend, my buddy Ric was using the smallest minnow lure I have ever seen with a spoon, and landed a 6-7 lb channel cat! This was at freaking noon! (why he was still out there fishing in the heat of high noon is another thread, but a daytime channel cat on a minnow lure is a rarity)
Lastly, my secret weapon is an oldie but goodie…Lazy Ike! Yes, I still have and use plastic Ikes from the 80’s. The fish can’t help themselves…
Anyway, I’d love to have you try my little stretch of heaven again, and get better results. Let me know when you will be passing by, we will keep a few cold for you!
Thanks for the offer.
I enjoy the Shenandoah a great deal. If you aren’t already, I highly recommend joining Shenandoah Riverkeeper.
Jeff spends all day, every day trying to protect the Shenandoah from pollution.
As far as that cold one, well I wouldn’t turn it down unless it’s a Bud product. Nothing against Bud, but for some reason they give me a splitting headache before I’ve finished half the can. I’ll usually be in a green one man raft with a rowing frame. I haven’t seen anyone else on the ‘Doah using one like mine. Lots of rafts on the Doah, but I haven’t seen any small 11’ one man rowing rafts like mine out there. Most of them look like big whitewater rafts that have had fishing/rowing frames added to them. (Man, I’d love one of those)
No bud products here!
Memorial Day weekend you were out, no? you paddled right in front of my place…
Next time, I see you, I’ll shout out and invite you over. We do not beleive in Bud products on my stretch of the river…
Thanks for the tip on the link. I am looking at it after work today…
Are in that long stretch of campground?
There’s a stretch of campground on river left that stretches for a long, long ways. Seems like a mile or so. Looks like a real nice, private campground with a few floating docks and lots of folks having a good time every time I go by. Makes me a little jealous. Not sure if it’s a club or a buy-in kind of place or what. There’s a few real nice looking houses too.
If you were at one of the houses fishing from a lawn chair while having a cold one and talking to a neighbor who was sitting on a lawn tractor, then you chatted with me in passing. Or perhaps you were the guy on the lawn tractor. Either way, you chatted with me in passing.
I talked to people all along the river the last couple of trips. Seems like as the snot grass goes away and the smell of the river recovers from one of pooh-stained algae to a healthier “river” smell that there’s more and more folks hanging out and playing along and in the river. That’s a good thing. The more people who use it, the more people who care about saving it.