Sunday, July 17, 2011

Almost Heaven...

Sunset on the South Branch of the Potomac.

I've always said fly fishing is a lot about the wallpaper. Sometimes, you just have to stop and look around to really appreciate the places the craft will take you.

As sun set over the South Branch of the Potomac on a sultry night in West Virginia recently, I did just that. I reeled up my line, stuck my little black woolly bugger in the hook keeper and took it all in.

With the waning light, I could make out the occasional firefly as it danced among the forest undergrowth, and the trees were alive with the constant buzz of locusts going about their nightly duties. The sun, well below the rise to the west now, gave off an ethereal light, a reminder of the day just past, and especially of the last hour casting flies to spunky sunfish, rock bass and some very respectable smallies.

A South Branch rock bass.
The river's warm water danced around my shins and I stood quietly in its midst, trying to determine if there was one more cast left in the day, or if I'd already remained too long. No matter. There wasn't a bad decision to be made, just the consequences of arriving back at the car in near darkness, or getting there in total darkness.

I remained a few more minutes, but I didn't cast–the river's denizens had given me more than enough this night. I just ... lingered, enjoying the feeling of the heavy, warm air, and the sound of water running off the spine of Appalachia on its way to the Chesapeake. There's history here, and I loved the thought of one of our nation's founding fathers standing in this river, perhaps contemplating a box of flies in the failing light, trying to determine what might work for that last cast of the day.

Eventually, I started my walk back to the car. I'm always amazed at how far I walk when I fish, really without realizing it. I stepped over white-tail deer tracks in the riverside gravel and watched as swallows and bats dove from the last light of the last hour of the day in search of the insects that teemed along this storied river. The fireflies, more numerous now, guided me back to the little trail out of the woods and to the car, where I felt, more than anything, a sense of regret. But the sun must set. The day must end.

The fishing must cease, because without an ending here, there's not a beginning somewhere else.

We'll meet again, the South Branch and I. And I can't wait.


  1. Almost Heaven, West Virginia. Blue Ridge Mountains Shenandoah River. I joke a lot with friends and family who hail from those parts, but it's truly a beautiful place. Nice post.

  2. Sounds like a beautiful place, and a perfect end to the day.

  3. Country roads, take me home...beautiful! Love the red eyed guy as well.

  4. What a beautiful evening and a fun adventure returning in the dusk with blind footing.

  5. I love that last part of the day. Well said.

  6. Funny - my brothers spent last week on the Cheat River - not far from you....lots of rainbows, redeye, and smallies.

  7. As a kid, I enjoyed fishing the Greenbriar catching goggleeyes and small mouth bass. Hope to take a trip back there some day with a fly rod.