Almost heaven, West Virginia. So goes the John Denver song Country Roads and we sure took a lot of country roads in our first foray into WV. I say our first because we will actually make two, one this year and one next.
This year’s journey took us to the Cranberry Wilderness area of WV to fish the Cranberry River. When we were doing our research into each river, finding shops and guides for our first day in each, we found that there were no guides working the Cranberry. Seemed strange, having a Top 100 trout stream and no guides but we’d fished enough and were confident enough to just seek some local advice and trek out on our own.
We found Four Seasons Outfitters in Richwood to be great. The staff there set us up with flies… shared a map with us and highlighted some areas to fish… and talked about how they’d fish the river. Nymphs deep or streamers drug through deep holes. Pretty standard stuff.
What they also told us was that to get to the “catch and release” section we wanted to fish, we’d have to hike at least 7 miles. Ummmmmmm,,,, 7 miles? Barb and I love to fish but we’d never walked 7 miles to do so. 3 miles, no problem. But 7? On an old railroad track turned into a path? Up a mountain? So we negotiated and got them to admit that if we just walked up a bit over 2 miles we’d find fish but we’d also see more anglers fishing “catch and keep” with trout bait.
Undaunted by this, we started our trek into the Cranberry Wilderness on the trail and within minutes saw a guy coming at us riding a bike. When he got closer, we noticed he had a fishing rod stuck in a piece of PVC pipe attached to his bike. He’d been fishing! We knew the area was known as a mountain bikers haven but a fishermen’s too? Turns out it is the common way people access the river to fish…. biking it. Next time we’re getting bikes. The hike up for a little over 2.5 miles was filled with excitement fishing this beautiful stream. The hike back about did us in. And to top it off, it had just snowed in the mountains and the fish bite was off. No one was catching fish that day. Luckily, we went back to the river a couple of days later and hooked into some pretty fish.
We found our goto spot for breakfast on the trip, Mumsey’s Iron Skillet in Richwood; right on the Cherry River with great food. We got to meet some of the locals and got some great intel on things to do in the area.
One local we met was Dr. Lloyd Atkins, the town dentist. Turns out, Lloyd is an avid fly fisherman. We sat and talked each time we were at Mumsey’s and got great information and lots of exciting stories.
Also need to give a big thanks to Lee Orr, the President of WVTU. Lee also traded emails with us about where and how to fish. He put us in touch with an outfitter on the Elk River we’ll visit when we swing back through WV in 2017.
We just missed by a week the annual Ramps Festival in Richwood, which bills itself as the Ramps Capital of the World. We saw ramps signs all around the town and wondered what they were. Turns out, ramps are kind of wild onions, sort of like a leek, really pungent like garlic and are in high demand because the season for finding them is so short. As one person indicated, its kind of like waiting for Punxsutawney Phil to come out after the snow melt. For Barb and me, we likened it to morel season. We asked if they also had morels in the area and they did; they just don’t get the love that ramps get.
OK… we are off to Maryland… time to Ramble On!