A late season float trip with Dave Fason
We recently caught up with our friend Dave Fason about his late season float trip in the Blue Ridge Mountains. With the end of the season is behind us, Dave’s story comes at a perfect time to reflect on some of this year's highlights. What was planned as an upland hunt, wound up becoming an unforgettable cast n' blast float trip. It's a good reminder that sometimes it's best to just go with the flow.
"The month of January on the Southeast is always a toss up. Everyone is ready to get outside after the holidays and if we are lucky, the winter has not truly shown its face. Hunting and fishing outings are often planned in advance but the one glaring curveball is the esteemed Mother Nature. Any given day there could be snow, rain, ice or a mix of all three. The pursuit of hunting water fowl or catching a monster winter brown drives enthusiasts outdoors in what many would call “undesirable conditions.” We choose to toss on on extra layers, add extra hand warmers or wear three pairs of socks under waders to ensure the elements are a little more bearable. For those of us hooked on the feeling of a great catch and hunt, a little cold weather will never stop us.
We planned a two day cast & blast in Virginia which included hunting grouse in the Blue Ridge mountains and then a float trip for trout. Two days before the trip, a cold front came through the east coast dumping 7-12” of snow in many areas. We knew running dogs in icy snow was out of the question and hiking up a snow covered mountain for grouse was certainly not an option. Duck and goose season was still on and we decide on a Plan B, a true cast & blast. We would float down the river fishing for brown or rainbow trout while keeping an eye out for duck or geese.
We prepped the rafts, packed the rods, a shotgun and went on our way. The morning started out brutally cold but the merino wool tops and bottoms under our waders kept us toasty. Like many cold mornings, the day started slower than expected. The first raft had a few missed hook sets and the other missed a group of mallards. We decided to anchor the rafts to eat a hot lunch and crack open a few beers. Our bellies were full, our bodies a bit warmer and our spirits were much higher. We jumped back on the boat to continue down river. Shortly after lunch we landed a couple trout and missed a couple more but most importantly we started seeing birds. A group teased us being slightly out of reach but they were followed by a pair. Wes fired two shots and suddenly we had our first duck of the day. Everyone was on a high that the day was finally coming together. One group hooked a monster brown but unfortunately, it came unbuttoned. We closed the day with a couple more trout and a single goose. We made it back to base with the sun setting behind us. We pulled the rafts back on the trailers, cracked open a few beers and joked about the missed shots and hook sets. Everyone loaded up in their trucks to head home with a grin from ear to ear knowing we had a good January day.
You never know what Mother Nature will throw at you. There’s no reason to get upset. Make it an adventure and try to work with what you are given. Our initial plan needed to be thrown out the window to lead to an even more unique plan on the water. All you need are some good friends you can laugh with when times get hard, warm clothes and an opportunity for some great memories to make any day in January a good one. "