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Preparing for a fishing trip

A checklist for that next fishing excursion


Living in Northern Virginia, and being enthused about fly-fishing for brook trout, I spend quite a bit of time fishing Shenandoah National Park (SNP)A day exploring trout streams of the SNP for frisky brookies is a delight that really is unparalleled in central and western Virginia. Waters such as Jeremy’s Run, the Robinson River and the Rose River are favorites among the anglers I mingle with in my local chapter of Trout Unlimited. These mountain streams of the SNP are so much fun because the brook trout can be feisty and the surroundings breathtaking.


Travel plans associated with fishing excursions will be affected by prevailing weather and water conditions and I am always reminding myself to be aware of both.  For example, I recently was planning to meet a few angling friends at SNP and we exchanged texts about wildfire activity potentially affecting stream quality and mobility in some areas of the SNP.  Indeed, there were sections of Skyline Drive in the SNP that had closed, along with several hiking trails.  So, naturally, we continued to monitor alerts from the National Park Service website for the SNP.


Planning your fishing trip

Obviously, fishing involves being outdoors and exposed to the elements and water conditions.  These are notoriously unpredictable, even with today’s advanced weather models.  I have had moments of checking several weather apps with differing predictions in terms of timing and force of the elements that we fly anglers abhor – wind and rain.  So, you must roll with it and be able to pivot quickly, and also take the necessary precautions related to both..


For my first trip to fish for steelhead in Ohio, I was greeted with perfect conditions on my afternoon arrival to the Rocky River in Cleveland, only to find the waters blown out the next morning by an overnight thunderstorm.  My angling companion and I scrambled wildly to adjust by calling some area bait and tackle shops that were willing to direct us to a few Lake Erie tributaries east of Cleveland that might be clearing out quickly.  This assistance was unselfish and saved our trip, which is why I try to spend what I can in local fly shops (and not always on necessary items).


The United States Geological Survey website will contain many valuable data points relating to some 8,500 monitoring stations.  It is important to understand the acceptable flow levels and gage heights of the waters you plan to fish.  Many local fly shops will have this information on their websites, as well.


Local fly shops are your friend

When I am fishing waters that are unfamiliar to me, I tend to hire a guide. But if that is not in the cards, I will certainly drop into the local fly shop for advice and to purchase the recommended fly patterns. In nearly every case, this approach has proved valuable as I was able to focus in on a few select waters with fly patterns that would likely be effective in the small windows of opportunity that I would have to fish.


I see the relationship as symbiotic – the fishing outfitter has expertise and product that I may need for a successful day on waters in their region.  The fishing outfitter also needs loyal clientele for a sustainable business, so they need to impart some knowledge.  I have no reservations in leveraging this relationship and asking for advice, and I will always leave with a purchase in exchange for the guidance.


Maps for your fishing trip

We are blessed with the amount of information we can mine on social media and the internet.  I know this seems obvious to seasoned anglers, but I am constantly surprised at the number of information poachers that cannot be bothered to do their own research or find appropriate maps. When I am researching a new fishing location, I spend hours using different key words in my web browsing to extract intel, generally without sponging the information from others.

To this end, there is no shortage of “hotspotting” of trout fishing destinations on the web and it does not bother me like it might bother others.  To begin with, if someone has publicly shared intel, it is no longer mine to hide.  And if a fly-shop I have visited has shared intel with me, I am going to presume I am not getting an exclusive.  So, I then have no problem passing that intel along, and always credit the source. Readers of my blog will know that I give credit where credit is due as it relates to information that I found in the public domain.

So, we are back to our local fly shops as our friends, and often they will have maps to share (sometimes free, sometimes at a price).  I was delighted with the free map I received from TCO when visiting the Tully, and from Little River Outfitters when visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  I also did not mind paying for some helpful maps offered by Brookings Anglers when visiting Western North Carolina.


Tight Lines!


Note: I am not being compensated for my mention of various fly shops in this blog post.  I am simply a happy customer!

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