Trip Report: New River, August 24-26

St. John’s Fly Fishers Trip Report

New River, NC near VA line, August 24-26, 2018

The St. John’s Fly Fishers (SJFF) had their second outing of the year over the weekend of August 24-26, 2018 just below the Virginia line on the New River.  This trip had beginning anglers in mind and was an extension of learning for many who attended the casting clinic in July. We used the buddy system and paired up experienced fly fishers with those just starting out. It had been raining much of the week, so upon arrival Friday, the water was a bit stained and a tad high for optimal fishing (at least that’s what we think).

Greg McAbee (closest), Craig Murden (left) and Tracy Murden (right) searching for Smallmouth.

The weekend that will be remembered for the the simple beauty of God’s creation, wonderful fellowship, great food, and most importantly, an enhanced connection with God and the people who were together on this trip. Participants included Brad Smith, Jeff Pruitt, Craig Murden, Matt Williams, Dan Robertson, Will Jetton, Ron Kohl, Virginia Kohl, Greg McAbee, Terrell Price, and Tracy Murden.

As late summer temperatures rise and trout activity declines, the SJFF shifted their fishing focus to warm water fish and headed to northwest North Carolina in search of smallmouth bass. Our destination was the New River in the Grassy Creek community of Ashe County, North Carolina, just below the Virginia/North Carolina state border. Our cabin was right on the river and is located about 1 mile from the confluence of the North and South Fork of the New River (we are told, the 2nd oldest river in the world).

Ron Kohl getting the hang of things fast as a beginning fly fisher.

Matt Williams did a great job in securing a beautiful and functional cabin in a picture perfect setting on the banks of the New River.  We could literally walk out the backdoor, cross the lawn, and step into the water.  A fire pit was conveniently located on the banks of the river which we put to good use on both Friday and Saturday nights.

The weekend weather was perfect with cool nights and warm (but not too warm) days.  August is typically the prime time to catch smallmouth bass, but unfortunately the fish were not very cooperative.  Fishing conditions were not ideal due to the recent heavy rains.  The river was swollen, swift, and dingy.  However, river conditions still provided a great opportunity for the group’s new fly fishers to test their newly acquired casting skills.  Most of the group’s fly fishers had very little experience with smallmouth, but we had some excellent tutorage from Craig Murden, Tracy Murden, and Matt Williams who are avid smallmouth fishermen.

Rev. Brad Smith giving the river his best “stuff”.

Jeff Pruitt, the SJFF official chef, again provided some hardy and delicious meals. In addition, Jeff provided some awesome entertainment around the campfire in the evenings as Jeff is a very talented and accomplished guitar player and vocalist. “We had no idea Jeff he had this talent and these entertainment qualities. It was awesome,” said Rev. Brad Smith.

“We had no idea Jeff he had this musical talent and these entertainment qualities. It was awesome,” said Rev. Brad Smith.

While our pursuit of smallmouth bass was not what we had hoped for, our pursuit of a deeper connection with God exceeded all our expectations. God revealed himself in so many unexpected ways.  He spoke to us in the roar of the river, the cool breezes in our faces, the singing of the birds in the morning, the faces and voices of our companions, and more importantly, the time spent in prayer, meditation, and celebrating Holy Eucharist along the river early Sunday morning. Surely our spirituality was enhanced as we encountered God on the banks of the New River.

Greg McAbee working a nice section with a Wooly Bugger.
Will Jetton enjoying the day in a great section of river.
Sunday Eucharist at river side.
First “catch’ of the weekend — a bit of truck-trouble on the way up to the river from Charlotte.
Matt Williams heading for a fresh section, new walkie-talkie on board for safety.

Click here for full photo gallery of this trip.

Submitted by: Dan Robertson

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