Fishing the South River SRA from Blue Ridge Outdoors on Vimeo.

Ah, the first hookup of spring. When all the pent up frustrations from the winter are unleashed and your anxiety about a new atmosphere floats away. A time when you think to yourself, “Yes, it was uncomfortable for a while, but now I know I can snag any beauty if I play my cards right.” It’s the foundation of a confidence and swagger that will last all year.

No, I’m not talking about your first year at Big State U; I’m talking about ripping lips. Wait…that came out wrong; I’m really talking about fly-fishing.

The caddis hatch was already in full swing when I hit the water below Waynesboro, VA last week. I was fishing the special regulations area (SRA) just south of the city in the hopes of getting in some early dry fly action; I was not disappointed.

The area is deemed special regulations due to fact that it runs almost exclusively through private land, the owners of which have graciously allowed fly fishermen to wet a line in. Access to that part of the river is limited – special – so in order to fish it within the eyes of the law, one must secure a permit, which is free and available at several locations in Waynesboro. I picked mine up at the best little fly shop in Waynesboro, The South River Fly Shop. I was also provided with a surprisingly accurate map of the SRA and its parking spots along with some fly recommendations. As I loitered scanning the fly tying materials and coveting new rods, I was blessed with the “Well, if it were me….” treatment, which I do not take lightly. Much like skiers and the mafia, fly fishermen are able to take their secret spots to the grave without ever giving anyone any hot tips about anything ever, so I was very grateful to have the local knowledge.

The bugs were everywhere, but few fish were rising to meet them as I strapped on the waders and gingerly stepped into the recommended water. The river was running a little high due to some recent precipitation, but still clear and calm enough for surface activity. The South SRA is a wonderful little fishery that produces caddis, BWO and trico hatches regularly and also has good terrestrial fishing later in the season. I tied on a caddis and made my way up river, until I finally saw a fish taking bugs off the top about 15 minutes later – 15 minutes! Who has the time?!?!

Seeing a fish rise, matching the hatch, then fooling them with delicate presentation and a dead drift is the heart and soul of fly fishing and a thing of beauty. To take a trout on a dry fly 15 minutes into the first venture of the spring is surprising. To get the whole thing on camera is close to a damn miracle, and to not see anyone else of the river is like a Double Rainbow Guy miracle.

I only hooked into two fish that day, but that’s not really the point is it?