We arrived on a gorgeous sunny Friday, but traffic on I64 had stolen our hour or two of evening fishing, so we got our campsite at Hidden Valley (virtually deserted), reconned the Back River parking situation, got dinner at Cucci's in Hot Springs, and hit the hay.
The next morning, we got up early and went on the hunt for coffee. We filled up at a country convenience store, munched on Clif bars, and drove to the Bath County Pump Storage Station Recreation Area. It was a glorious morning...
Camping at this facility is more pricey, $30/night instead of the $10 we paid, but it has a lot of nice family amenities. It too was virtually deserted.
We changed clothes, rigged up, packed our food, and were ready to go. It was a short walk between the reservoirs to get to the river.
While stretching my fly line, it snapped about 20' from the tip. I tried a blood knot connection, then a nail knot, but the line kept sticking in the guides so I eventually just trimmed it at the breaking point, tied a loop, and attached my leader to the stub. Streamside RX. It worked fine for swinging streamers.
Back Creek is used a lot for Project Healing Waters outings, so the access along the stream is very good with picnic tables and wide access points to the river.
Back Creek is heavily stocked and holds some large fish. As a result, it gets lots of pressure. Fish hold in deep, slow moving water where they can get a very good look at your fly. We wasted time with many follows and refusals in these areas. Enticing as it may may seem, my advice is to avoid these areas and concentrate on the fast moving water.
I missed a few hits fishing a bullet-headed black slumpbuster. After losing all those in trees, I tied on a bullet-headed black woolly bugger and started getting more hits. Perhaps the slumpbuster was just too much meat! My first landed fish of the day came at about 1 PM...
It was a 16+ Rainbow in a skinny seam where fast water dumped into a hole. I had fished almost as far up towards the dam as possible, and started to walk back downstream to find Will and possibly change venues. I stopped at one spot where I had had a hit and a miss on the slumpbuster and on the second cast got another nice rainbow.
I found Will and we decided to go use our remaining hours of daylight to see what the Upper Jackson had to offer. We navigated Will's trusty Honda to the Poor Farm Road access point.
We made a pact that we would walk at least 15 minutes before we started to fish to try to avoid heavily pressured water. We walked until the trail stopped and Will fished a nymph while I swung streamers.
I started to recognize parts of the river and came to a spot where there used to be a downed tree over a deep hole. I had broken off a large fish years ago fishing with David N. and knew it was a good lie. I had lost the woolly bugger so opted for an olive slumpbuster tied with pine squirrel fur. I worked the hole methodically and finally got a solid strike. Not the largest, but the prettiest rainbow of the day...
See you next time little buddy....
There was heavy rain in the overnight forecast and for the next day and our tent really wasn't ready for that weather so we grabbed some comfort food at the Country Inn in Warm Springs and then Will took me back to my car at the park-n-ride west of Richmond. Although there were lots of deer between Richmond and Williamsburg to worry about, it was smooth sailing until I hit a 9-mile bumper to bumper back up due to construction on I64. That added an hour to my already late 1AM home arrival ETA. I stayed alert listening to the XM radio 80's Saturday Night Dance Party. Pulled into the driveway at 2AM, wedged myself into the bed between my wife and the two dogs (we were dogsitting) and closed my eyes.
Time to re-stock my box with streamers and nymphs, get a new 5-wt. fly line, and perform other maintenance.
Thanks Will for a great day on the water. Fall trout fishing is always special. Back to the salt in two weeks for some false albacore fishing in NC. Until then...