Cold, cold, cold, was what the thermometer said when I left the house on Monday and began my two hour drive to the Pound River. The Pound winds along for many miles paralleling the Kentucky state line. Just out side of Haysi (pronounced with a long i on the end), the Pound is impounded by the John Flannagan Dam, an Army Corp. flood control dam.
With the cold weather, I was sure that the fishing would be just as difficult as had been for the past two weeks. Cold temperatures seems to put the bite off, but a tailwater, like the Pound, is another story. With the water staying a more consistent year round temperature, the trout seem to have an easier time with atmospheric temperature changes.
I didn’t get my hopes up too much. It was only suppose to reach 27 degrees for the high and snow was falling hard when I reached the dam. I came prepared for a shut out. I had even been told by a local guide to wait a couple of weeks for a warm spell.
With the snow still falling I made my way down the winding road to the park area at the foot of the dam. This was one time I was glad I was driving a four wheel drive truck. The road was rather steep and covered in an inch of snow. I don’t think I would have attempted the descent without the truck.
With in a few minutes of reaching the river I was in the water. I started fishing directly under the spillway in a large pool. The trout were giving splashy rises to what I assumed to be rising midge pupa. I tied on a brassie, a strike indicator, and began casting into the areas where the trout were rising. Within a couple of drifts I was hooked into a decent trout.
I fished in this pool for about two hours and managed the hook and lose several. I then began to work my way down stream fishing pocket water along the way. The cold was beginning to get to me so I stopped for early lunch and to warm up in my truck.
Lunch on days like this is usually light and packed in protein. I’m
not so sure of how healthy it is, but it does taste good. There’s nothing like summer sausage, spicy mustard, and hot coffee to get you through a day of fishing.
Warm and with a full belly I continued down stream, working pocket water and pools along the way,for almost an half mile to the special regulation water. Fishing the special regulation section, which extends from the a sign posted .4 miles below the dam to the confluence with Ravens Fork, is a must. This section is artificial lure, single hook, and nothing is to be kept under 16 inches. This section is stocked with fingerling browns to supplement the wild browns that hold in this mile and a half of water.
The section I fished was great. I landed three trout ranging from six inches to ten inches, but I lost a whole lot more than that. Then there is the one that got away. I hooked into a nice bow and fought him for about four to five minutes. I worked him to with in six to seven yards when I felt the line go limp. Like a boxer waylaid by an unexpected punch, my line lay sprawled out on the water, and the victor quietly slipped back into the dark depths of the Pound.
Brassies seemed to be the hot item for a cold January day. Midges were in abundance in the water and on the rocks. I also found lots of sow bugs, actually more sow bugs than midges. I was fishing a size 18 brassie with no weight. I may have done even better if I had slipped on a couple of split shot and put the fly on the bottom faster. If you go fill your fly box with brassies from size 16 to 20, sow bugs in sizes 14 to 18. You may also want a few streamers in you box, which drew a couple of strikes in the late afternoon for me.
A couple of warnings for those who plan to head to the Pound River. First, the Pound is a tailwater and the Army Corp. of Engineers does release water from time to time. There are no release schedules that are posted, so be cautious when wading below the dam. Secondly, didymo is present in this stream, as well as in several other Virginia tailwaters. If you are not aware this a very invasive and annoying algae that spreads from river to river on your fishing equipment. Please properly clean your equipment after fishing the Pound and let your waders fully dry before moving on to the next stream.
The Pound River should be one of the streams you plan to fish this year. It is one of the top trout streams in southwest Virginia and should be at the top of any fisherman’s to do list. I have already been trying to get some of my friends to go back with me and I am sure you will want to do the same.
If you have ever fished the Pound River let me know or if you have photos of some hog you have pulled out of there I would love to see them.
You may be interested in reading about other streams I have fished.