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Hooked on Fly Fishing in Harrisonburg

Fishing- fun with lures

When attempting to fly fish, stealth is key. Every decision — from the fly you use, to where you stand, to the subtle way you flick your wrist — either helps you blend into the natural environment… or announces your presence to the underwater world below.

Being stealthy when fly fishing isn’t easy. Dedicated anglers spend endless hours perfecting their craft. Let it be known that I am not one of those people. Compared to impassioned fly fishers, I am like an elephant in a room filled with bubble wrap. But, on a recent weekend in Harrisonburg, Virginia, my fly fishing education began under the attentive instruction of Brian Trow of Mossy Creek Fly Fishing.

Mossy Creek’s owned by Brian and Colby Trow, twin brothers with a lifelong passion for the sport of fly fishing. Both JMU graduates (like me!), they spent as much time out fly fishing in the Shenandoah Valley as they did studying for their science-based majors. When the brothers graduated and decided to open the store and instructional center in 2003, all of their passions and educations merged to create a successful business that is still thriving today.

Now, Mossy Creek hosts over 1,200 guests each year for various guided fishing trips and classes. People come to try their hand at fly fishing in Harrisonburg (and the surrounding area) from all over North America, and I was surprised to learn that Virginia’s brook trout fishing is the 2nd best in the world. Additionally, smallmouth bass, musky and carp are all abundant in the Valley’s waters.

I stopped into Mossy Creek for a little bit of “Fly Fishing 101.” On this particular fall day, it was a little drizzly and cool, so the half-day class began at the Mossy Creek store in downtown Harrisonburg. Here, we learned the basic fundamentals of fly fishing (from how to tie essential knots to how to select the best fly) and a bit of the sport’s nearly two thousand year history.

Mossy Creek Store

Mossy Creek’s store reminded me of a craft store… for fishermen!

 

Mossy Creek Rooster

This is a Dry Fly Hackle Rooster… the thin feathers (which are used for fly fishing) are just beautiful!

 

Fishing- class 2

I was surprised by how light and simple the equipment was. Maybe I had a shot of learning how to do this!

 

Fishing- fun with lures 2

I learned that the dry flies are super varied in size… the flies are designed to replicate insects found in the natural environment, so that’s why sometimes the itty bitty ones are the most effective.

 

After learning the fundamentals, we headed out to put our skills to work in the real world.

 

Fishing Spot

A mere 15 minute drive landed us at this little slice of creek-front heaven.

 

Brian was patient... basically the perfect instructor for these city girls!

Brian was patient… basically the perfect instructor for these city girls!

 

Fishing- outdoor casting practice 2

Check out my form… looks like I’ve learned a thing or two!

 

Fishing- close up of hands

While my cast was pretty strong, my wrists were a little loose. Brian put me in “wrist jail” for a little bit ’til I got it down pat.

 

Fishing- Brian showing us how it's done

Brian demonstrates a little technique…

 

Fishing- me on the creek

…then I hit the water to give it a try!

 

Over the course of my 5 hour fly fishing 101 lesson, I never quite mastered the art of being stealthy. I saw plenty of sizable fish but my sloppy technique kept them scattering. However, I did discover a newfound respect for this ancient sport… It feels like it’s a skill that can be learned and perfected with enough time and I really appreciated the almost meditative concept of spending a rainy morning on the bank of a quiet creek.

No fish were caught this day, but I really enjoyed discovering this new fishy side to Harrisonburg.

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