Day 2 VDGIF Description: "This is a short but beautiful float. Towering palisades line the water's edge as the boater drifts slowly through the bends in the river. Short riffle areas are interspersed through this reach, inviting the angler to beach his craft and try flycasting a wooly bugger in the swirling pockets and runs. Take out off Route 623, on the right side above the bridge."
With the excitement of the first day behind us, the group took a more leisurely approach to the second day. No early morning rush to convoy out to the certain death that loomed oppressively on my mind first day. Day two promised to be calmer, more scenic and I was looking forward to seeing the "towering palisades" discussed in the description. Given the group's consensus assessment of low risk, I chose to mount my trolling motor in the canoe. That turned out to be a great decision since there is a significant amount of water that absorbs what little energy the languid current contributed to the flow; demanding significantly greater physical exertion to push across the finish.
The scenery was nothing short of spectacular. All along the route, a narrow band of trees hung precariously from the narrow shoreline underneath tall rock cliffs. In other locations, the tree canopy stretched almost vertically up to the top of towering ridgelines. We started the float off the sandy beach along with thousands of other Saturday boaters and tubers to include one raucous party of screaming girls. But, the river was even wider than the stretch we negotiated yesterday and everyone spread out quickly to alleviate the feeling of pressure. In fact, once we got around the first bend, the focus was on the fishable structure instead of the crowd.
For much of the float, we drifted by populated areas – a reassuring sign that if somebody got in trouble, help was nearby. The river also seemed deeper; an impression exacerbated by the long stretches of stillwater. There were a few places where I could see the bottom and, when I could, it appeared that there was a decent amount of rock structure that boded well for fishing. Fishing? Yes. Catching? No. I did better than the day before, but it wasn't worth bragging about. I worked my fly rod hard all day and was extremely surprised to not catch more than a few sunfish. Usually, on the Rappahannock or the Rapidan I have to put sunfish repellent on my lure to keep them from grabbing it before a hulking smallmouth pushes to the prize
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At least the weather cooperated. Unlike the day before, no poncho required. The partly cloudy day provided cooling shade that helped moderate the heat and control some of the humidity. It made the float more enjoyable and shifted the focus to catching fish instead of staying dry. The final pitch to the takeout was marked by a mile-long stretch of flat water that made me exceedingly happy that I was using the trolling motor. However, I became concerned as strong whine of the motor gradually diminished to a hum that pushed me just a little bit faster than strong paddling. Thankfully, I had enough battery power to make it to the takeout.
So, was the two-day trip worth it? It turns out that the fishing has been for the last several times the group visited the new river. Based on that prior experience, coupled with poor results this time, consensus of the group was that we should not come back next summer and instead visit the uncharted waters of the James or even some of the rivers in West Virginia. I'm sure many readers would object to that assessment, but you probably had a better day (or days) and we did. Despite the poor catching, I thoroughly enjoyed the company, the food and the opportunity to fish for two days straight and actually take a weekend off. It reminded me why work is just the means to achieve this.