Winter Rose

Since the sad news I reported on in the last post, I’ve been happily wrapped up in a wide variety of holiday activities. I even got in a couple hours of fly-fishing in Shenandoah National Park.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I spent a week in Washington D.C. and northern Virginia for a reason I’m not quite prepared to elaborate on because my son is at the heart of it, and I want him to disclose the reason for all the family gatherings and felicity on his Bridging the Gap blog before I go running my mouth about it here on Rivertop Rambles. [Ed. note: he beat me to the punch, so yeah, check out his new post about family traditions old and possibly new at Bridging the Gap. I think you’ll like it, and I’ll have more on this subject later on].

at the Rothwell home

at the Rothwell home

Let’s just say that the week of fun included not only hiking and fishing, eating and drinking, giving and taking, dancing and listening, pledging and throwing all caution to the wind, but also enjoying a long visit from my Caribbean daughter before we put her back on a plane one morning long before the hour of dawn.

keep on dancin'!

keep on dancin’!

It’s been a helluva ride, a very good one despite my mother’s passing, but I wouldn’t last long if I had to go through it again.

one of many fine species found along the trail

one of many fine species found along the trail

We still had the memorial for my mother scheduled for an evening in New York on December 29, but the life-affirming action in Virginia and D.C. was like seeing the first new lights of winter edging through the darkness at the end of 2016. Perhaps like seeing the beauty in a freshly-cut winter rose.

winter rose

winter rose

And speaking of roses and winter blooms, I had another opportunity to fly-fish on the headwaters of the Rose River in Shenandoah National Park. Any chance to fly-fish comfortably during the winter season is a bonus in this typically off season for casting, so I scrambled for the opportunity.

Rose River

Rose River

We were staying in Warrenton, Virginia,  where the air temperature was in the mid-40s the day after Christmas, so the drive to the Rose was pleasant and easy. A bald eagle greeted my son and me on our approach to the Blue Ridge along the Rappahannock River Valley. We drove to a dead-end near the hamlet of Syria and prepared for a short hike and fishing jaunt into the wilds of Shenandoah.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Just inside the boundary of the park, the Rose is a boulder-chocked stream with a steep gradient, a lovely mountain water where you can fish for wild brook trout on a catch-and-release basis with artificial flies or lures. The winter stream was low and clear, the footing a bit treacherous along the rocky banks, and the fish seemed few and far between.

Based on my experience on the nearby Moormans and Rapidan rivers about a month ago, this venture on the Rose seemed to reinforce suspicions that a lot of trout had moved upstream during the hot and dry summer season in search of cooler water, and that the fish had yet to return to the lower section of the mountains.

wild side

wild side

I could be wrong about it, but that’s my take on the current wild trout picture in the Blue Ridge of Virginia. Right or wrong, the fishing was what I needed. Just a couple of winter hours in the wild, with a couple of beautiful brook trout on the line, with a nymph or Glo-Bug at the lip, in late December, like a red rose in a soul bouquet.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


About rivertoprambles

Welcome to Rivertop Rambles. This is my blog about the headwaters country-far afield or close to home. I've been a fly-fisher, birder, and naturalist for most of my adult life. I've also written poetry and natural history books for thirty years. In Rambles I will mostly reflect on the backcountry of my Allegheny foothills in the northern tier of Pennsylvania and the southern tier of New York State. Sometimes I'll write about the wilderness in distant states, or of the wild places in the human soul. Other times I'll just reflect on the domestic life outdoors. In any case, I hope you enjoy. Let's ramble!
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22 Responses to Winter Rose

  1. plaidcamper says:

    Having read Brent’s piece, and yours here, all I can say is what an emotional rollercoaster your family has been on in the last little while. Delighted to see it is on an upward curve, and you’ve plenty of positives to ponder. The circles and cycles get drawn and redrawn, go around and around, and overall, it’s pretty good!

  2. Wonderful post. It sounds like the year ended on a slightly bittersweet note, with a little fishing (and what looks like a dececnt bourbon) thrown in for good measure. Here’s to a great 2017!

    • Douglas,
      It has been a bittersweet finish to an emotional 2016 roller-coaster ride. Indeed. I hope you have a great new year with friends and family, and may the fish that dwell in your favorite lakes and streams sacrifice their safety in 2017 (if only for a minute of two) whenever you come around.

      • Thanks, Walt! That might just be my new favourite saying. All the best to you and yours in the coming year. I look forward to reading about your adventures. Tight lines.

  3. Douglas, I’m enjoying The Water Calls, and I hope you and the blog continue to prosper as the new calendar changes face.

  4. Leigh says:


    Wow, what a way to end the year. All the best to you and your family, and now, extended family. Hopefully our paths will cross in 2017!

  5. Dale says:

    Merry Christmas and happy new year to you and your family! I also was down there over Christmas ! See you soon Dale.

  6. Doug says:

    All the best to you and the family Walt. I can’t really say much without repeating everyone else. But I can say, Looking up for 2017. Peace bro.

  7. Bob Stanton says:

    Happy New Year, Walt! Here’s to a fresh 365!

  8. Mark Miles says:

    Sounds like the perfect way to spend the week after the holidays. Love the pictures of the Rose River; it must be a real gem. Happy Early New Year!

  9. Brent says:

    Finally got around to reading this in full after a day of driving. Nice little short wrap of a hectic week or so, and I’m looking forward to reading your takes on the remainder! I’ll remember this holiday season for all of its ups and downs, but my overall takeaway is excitement for the future. (Side note: I love the prominent green on the mossy boulder, in the foreground of an otherwise muted winter forest.)

    • Let’s consider that boulder green to symbolize the promise of an exciting future! After all the ups and downs of the recent past, I’m glad we came through with new signs of life. That said, may the new year be a good one for all.

  10. Yes, 2016 ended in a bittersweet note but we do have a bright shiny new year to look forward to. Happy New Year Walt.

    • Absolutely, Howard. Thank you. We had similar conclusions to the year, and hopefully we’ll get a break as the new year unfolds. Here’s hoping you experience true happiness and peace throughout the year.

  11. loydtruss says:

    Beautiful stream you guys were fishing and some colorful wild trout taken; I assume the bamboo got the bend on this outing? Looking forward more great post in 2017!! Thanks for sharing

    • The Rose is a pretty one, Bill, and fun to explore. Actually didn’t use bamboo on this trip. My 4-piece graphite has the advantage of portability when a vehicle is otherwise loaded at holiday time, so that did the trick. Thanks for commenting, and Happy New Year to you.

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