Shenandoah River

After bidding a temporary farewell to the pristine brook trout laden streams of Shenandoah National Park, I entered stage two of a fisherman’s weekend. The Shenandoah River meanders patiently through the Shenandoah Valley and is home to many species of fish, smallmouth bass being one of them. Outfitted with a kayak, I approached her banks. The river was flowing well, fed by recent rains and only slightly off-color. Perfect conditions. After a few sloppy casts sending heavy flies whizzing past my head I adjusted to the heavier rod without serious bodily injury. I began by throwing a chartreuse CK baitfish which fooled a fish on the third cast. The fish were active and continued to hammer the baitfish pattern all day. While the fishing was consistently good all day, it was incredible in the late afternoon. Recognizing this bite surge, I docked my kayak opting to wade fish and cover the water more thoroughly. Standing in the middle of the river, I was hooking fish on every other cast 360 degrees around me when I noticed a shadow appear out of the glare. I cast my baitfish a few feet upstream of the shadow before slowly stripping it back. The bright color and large profile of the chartreuse baitifsh was easy to follow with my eyes until it disappeared, engulfed in shadow. I set the hook hoping my eyes had not deceived me. Immediately, the line tightened under tension of a large smallmouth quickly followed by the stomach churning slack as the fish raced directly towards me. Stripping line like a mad man, I recovered the slack and put the fish on the reel. After several line ripping runs and inspired jumps, the fish exhausted itself and I had my personal record of a smallmouth. The afternoon blitz seemed to defy time, but the sun had gone down behind the mountains and darkness approached. I paddled the remaining two miles, content without throwing another cast. Tired and smiling, I loaded up my kayak at last light and returned to the city to begin planning the next adventure.