Contributed by Will Jenkins, The Will to Hunt
I recently made my way to Highland WMA in Highland Country Virginia for 4 days of backpacking, camping, hunting and fishing. This was my first time backpacking and camping since I was much younger and the first time I’d ever done it with the goal of hunting and fishing. For this post we’ll focus on the lessons learned as I’m a very new fly fisherman.
First off, make sure you bring sandals, water shoes or waders. I didn’t. I ended up rolling up my pants taking my boots and socks off and making my way into the river. If you go this route be sure to take your phone, keys, or anything else out of your pockets. Luckily my fishing partner Zac reminded me of this just before entering the water. Bare feet and slippery river rocks don’t mix well especially when the water temps are pretty chilly. I wasn’t 20 minutes into fishing before one misplaced step, and I was face planting right into the river. Luckily the weather was pretty warm and I was wearing a wool shirt and KUIU, pants both of which dry extremely fast.
Next up, if you’re new to fly fishing like I am, practice your casting how you’ll be fishing. In other words don’t practice in the middle of your yard. Practice your casting where there are some trees or obstacles that replicate casting on a small river. This will help you get used to aiming under trees on your back cast so that you aren’t hooking every limb and losing your flies.
That leads me to my next suggestion. Bring extra flies. There a lots of things to snag and you will lose flies. Don’t freak out just make sure you have extra flies and a variety. Some fish can be picky so making sure you have a good variation of flies will help you hone in on what they are biting. That said, also do your research to figure out what flies the species you are after tend to like.
Lastly, have fun! I had a blast fishing even though I never caught a fish and neither did many of the people fishing that day. Our trip ended up being plagued with tons of rain and wind making fly fishing pretty much impossible. However, that first day of fly fishing and falling on my face in beautiful weather was a blast!