Delayed Harvest Moon

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Brook Trout. North Fork, Mormons River. Tricked him with a size 14 Royal Wolff on a 3-weight. 

Fall.

Fall is great. The weather is cool, the leaves pop off like a Ke$ha show, pumpkin gets infused into everything, Christmas is just around the corner. The list goes on. Although I have nearly run over people, literally, on a couple pre-work jogs in the dark – they would have been fine, I don’t go that fast – the fall season is one I look forward to, not just due to the reasons stated a second ago, but because of something I like to call Delayed Harvest. Ok, everyone calls it that, but that doesn’t change anything.

Delayed Harvest is a trout stocking program that restricts streams and rivers to artificial lures and catch and release only from October through May-ish, when the water is sufficiently cold enough to support a healthy trout habitat. These types of restrictions give fly fishermen, and sport fishermen in general, a leg up on the angling competition by keeping the fish in the river during prime conditions. Most states on the Atlantic have some sort of Delayed Harvest program that varies in dates depending on water temperature and how much the water gets fished. During the summer months here in central Virginia, it gets TOO DAMN HOT for trout to survive through July and August – it’s pretty tough for us humans, also – so after the specified date, you can keep a daily limit.

I have been obsessed with fishing as of late; my jones being stoked by numerous sources, but obviously the internet has a lot to do with it – that internet is crazy. Fly fishing videos have been pouring into the ether like ski porn in the 00’s or regular porn in the 90’s, and it is good. Finally, some fishermen have put down the rod for a hot second to film some bros catching pigs in HD. This is what time it is, so get on board.

Unfortunately, we’re two weeks into the season and I have yet to wet a line. Disappointing? Yes. Pathetic? Yes. Soul Crushing? …Almost.

I love trout fishing, like, a lot, but I did get some  great smallie fishing in this summer. Nothing beats chucking big poppers with a 7-weight in a big river. Smallmouth bass act very similar to big brown trout: coming up from deep pools, a deceptively small strike/slurp, and big runs to go with their big girth. Plus you can splash around in warm water, which is nice. But warm water fish are pretty dumb, and easy to fool. Trout, even stocked trout, are much more discerning when considering their next meal. This is the art and beauty of fly fishing, why we make it so hard on ourselves, and why it is such and all-consuming endeavor.

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