Friday, October 21, 2016

Fall colors

My wife and I had the pleasure of spending two wonderfully clear, warm days in the Shenandoah National Park with our oldest daughter this past week.  I've said this before, but the SNP is one of my favorite places and having the opportunity to visit during the fall foliage season made our visit especially memorable.



We spent the days hiking upper Hawksbill and the White Oak Canyon trail and taking pictures.  It was fun for me to show them around and I was thrilled that they were able to see lots of deer and watch a black bear along the Skyline Drive.




In addition to hiking and spending time together, I did manage a couple hours to fish a stream that I haven't had the chance to return to since my first trip to the park in the spring of 2015.  With 2 hours to fish before the sun set, I figured that if I really moved quickly I could reach the area I wanted to fish in about 45 minutes.  That would leave 30 minutes to fish and then hike back out but I would have to push since it would be all up hill on the way out.  Unfortunately, my watch had died a few days before so I was running solely on my internal sense of time.

I was not certain if the stream would have a decent flow of water with the dry summer and fall the East has experienced this year. When I reached the spot I had in mind, I was delighted to see a healthy flow of water, probably the result of Hurricane Michael that passed through the area about a week before.  I started fishing a foam ant but quickly switched to a Royal Wulff and then added a hare's ear dropper with a bright red bead in an attempt to move the larger fish hanging on the bottom of the plunge pools.


Southern Appalachian brook trout have to be one of the most beautiful strains of eastern brook trout and truly stunning in their fall colors.




After fishing a pretty stretch of stream and finding fish, I thought I should pack up and head back up the trail to the car.  On the way out, I startled an owl which silently took off through the trees in the late afternoon light.  As I ascended out of the hollow, I could see the sun still in the sky bringing a sense of relief that I hadn't stayed too long. When finally reached the car it was a few minutes before six o'clock, just enough time to pick up the girls and the camera gear and find a spot to watch the sun set together!

The end of a wonderful day in the park

14 comments:

  1. Mark, looks like you all had a great time. I agree that S.Appalachian brook trout are distinctive in many ways.
    Lovely post.

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    1. Alan - it was a wonderful couple of days enjoying the outdoors together!

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  2. Beautiful pictures, Mark, of both the scenery and brookies. I am glad to see there is good water flow in that region. One can sure tell they are brook trout, but they seem to have less spots than those we catch in New England. Regards, Sam

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    1. Sam - thanks. The southern Appalachian brook trout seem to have a smaller more defined red spotting and a lighter color across the back. The lighter overall color might be due to the geology of the streams (they have a lighter brown bottom than we do in New England) or less tannin in the water (you don't see as many hemlocks as we have in our northern forests).

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  3. SNP,such a beautiful area. Visited it once 30 years ago in October and the foliage is just gorgeous. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Pete - it is beautiful for sure, but I did miss seeing the reds we get in New England. I think the forests have less maple than we do here and are more dominated by oaks.

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  4. Mark those trout are stunning, well done on some cracking fishing & beautiful scenery.
    regards
    george

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  5. Awesome pictures Mark, I live about 2.5-3 hours from SNP and wish I made it out there more often.

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    1. Bill - you have a gem of a park in your back yard!

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  6. Glad you had another fine Shenandoah outing, Mark, with some pretty brook trout as well. I'm looking forward to some fishing there around Thanksgiving time.

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    1. Walt - that sounds wonderful! I really have fallen in love with the Park over the last two years. This last trip made me think it would be lovely place to celebrate Thanksgiving together. Hope you enjoy it as I now you will! Check out the Yellow Breeches on your way home (hint, hint)

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