Explore, Experience and Enjoy the Beautiful Smith River in Southern Virginia

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

An October River Trip

(click on pictures to enlarge)

October is a favorite month for many...the air is crisp, the weather mild, the forest explodes with a palette of colors we see no other time of year....and the river, oh the river takes on a whole new character.

 The water reflects the golden colors of  change and the sky could not be a more vibrant shade of blue.
One Saturday in October, Lisa Hall and I decided to take advantage of a perfect day try for some “smallies” on one of my favorite sections of the Smith.  We had a great day of fishing and a fabulous variety of wildlife sightings, and even a few surprises along the way.
 The river was unusually low but we decided to go ahead with a 7 mile downstream trip, even if we had to jump out of the boat a few times to drag over the shallow spots.  I really like this under-used section of the Smith as it is quite remote and very scenic for much of the way, bordered by fields and open woods on one side while rock cliffs loom far up the ridge on the other.  
Deer seemed to be in abundance this day and we spotted  2 bucks, one a spike horn and another that was a 4 or 6 pointer and then the big doe grazing in the water downstream, oblivious to our approach as the wind was blowing upstream and masking our scent. With the water extremely low we were going to have to concentrate on the deeper holes and rapids.  Just downstream from the put it Lisa surprised us with the first hook-up of the day and I was excited because I thought we had our first smallie…only it wasn’t a smallie, and as it repeatedly jumped clear of the water we could both see it was a nice fat brownie.
After a couple of pics Lisa slipped him back in to the water and he quickly blasted back into the deep hole from where he had been fooled by the old reliable Fox spinner.
 A bit further downstream we finally hooked up with what turned out to be the only smallmouth of the day, just a little guy but they always put up such a fight.  Going 7 miles against the wind in low water takes some time so we kept up the pace and only stopped briefly to cast some of the better looking holes.  The smallmouths seemed to have lock-jaw or were at least just holding tight under their rock ledge hideouts, but we picked up an occasional sucker and bream to keep things interesting.  Just downstream a flock of turkey crossed the stream one by one to land on the other side and shuffle off into the think rhododendrons.  The river continued to mesmerize and I could not take enough pictures of the sunlight through the golden leaves.
 Around each bend was a new surprise as we jumped a nice flock of Canada Geese several times, squawking and flapping, splashing the water on take-off like 20 motorboats starting at the same time.  Wood ducks flushed from cover and whistled downstream to disappear again somewhere along the banks.  An otter popped up at one point, splashing near the surface but just as quickly disappeared and the ever familiar chattering call of the kingfisher kept us entertained as they rocketed past the canoe heading upstream to more productive fishing grounds maybe. What a relaxing trip enjoying the changing season and the peaceful river.
About half way through the trip another nice surprise.  Lisa called out as a shadow darted from the deep water and just missed her jig,  I tossed a beetle spin in the same spot and was rewarded with a hook-up from a big fat rainbow ! "Now how did he get here" , we wondered. . I'm constantly amazed at the resource we have in the Smith River and its always a pleasant surprise whenever a trout, be it brownie or bow, ends up on the line. This guy would have been a nice meal but we still had a long way to go so back into the river he went awaiting the unlucky day when he bites the wrong hook !
Heading downstream we enjoyed more of the rivers wonders in the beauty of the surrounding forest. Around each bend the blue sky, the angle of the sun and the dance of light on the water made a breathtaking pallet of gold and red and blue.
So get out and enjoy the river.  Don't hang up that paddle gear...Winter is just around and the corner and the river will be changing again with new surprises, new sights and new wonders to explore.