Fairfax County, Virginia, May 19, 2007
A thunderous sound echoes off the slate walls of the rocky valley as a giant oak topples across the stream. Heavy construction equipment goes up in flames. An arson investigation begins. A stream filled with very wary trout. It was an exciting few hours of fly fishing at Holmes Run.

As Jin and I were walking up the new path from the Chambliss Street parking area at Glenn Echo Park to fish one of our favorite spots, we heard a loud, sharp, cracking sound. Looking toward the sound we watched a massive oak tree crash down across the stream fifty yards in front of us in a tangle of branches and splintered wood. That was close. Too close.

We continued to walk upstream and decided to fish near a rock where a pod of trout lived in a deep pool. As we were walking along a muddy path next to the stream we heard a string of loud, “
Pop, Pop, Pop, Pop” sounds that sounded like firecrackers. Or maybe gunshots. But our minds were on trout and our eyes on the stream so we didn’t think much of it. As we were gearing up to start fishing, Jin looked towards the new pathway above us and told me he saw flames.

I looked up and through the trees saw something burning. I put my rod down and climbed up the embankment. A parked construction earthmover being used on the Holmes Run trail improvement project was on fire. I called 91l, but the operator had difficulty locating Holmes Run Stream Valley Park or Glen Echo Park on the map and I was getting a bit pissed when she kept asking me if there was a street or house number nearby. I explained that I did not live in the area and we were fishing along a stream, but that didn’t seem to sink in. By this time the earthmover was fully engulfed in flames and the fire was quickly spreading to the forest. Jin continued to fish.

The fire department and police finally showed up and quickly put out the fire. We stuck around to give statements to the investigators, who joined us on the stream as we fished the far ends of a deep pool. After they were done we reeled up and moved up stream to fish a spot at the fourth crossing.

There were lots of trout holding in this area but they were very wary. We tried various nymphs and even a few dries. Water clarity was good and you could sight-cast to the trout. I hooked a few sunfish and Jin finally landed a trout on an olive Bugger but by then it was time for us to leave.

On the way out we decided to fish a deep hole near the lower end of Holmes Run. Since I had fished here the previous day, I deferred to Jin. I placed myself on a rise and called out trout placement as he cast from a spot down stream. You could see the fish circling and one would break off from the pod and make a run at the fly. On his last cast he hooked a decent fish that came charging out from under a rock.

EQUIPMENT: We used 3 and 4-weight rods with floating line, 7X tippet, small split shot and indicators. Size 16 bead head Pheasant Tail with or without flash. Olive Wooly Bugger. Fish want some motion on their flies so twitch the nymphs or quick, short strips on the streamers.

DIRECTIONS: Holmes Run Stream Valley Park is located on Columbia Pike (244) amid apartments, residential housing and strip malls. As you drive on 244 towards Leesburg Pike (Rt. 7) the road will slope downhill. To your right you will see a large apartment complex and on your left will be the face of the Lake Barcroft Dam. You will drive cross a bridge with a covered pedestrian walkway. At this point SLOW DOWN and get into the RIGHT LANE. The road will begin to go uphill. To your right is a small, paved road that looks like a bike path. THIS IS THE ENTRANCE. It's a sudden right turn so make sure the car on your tail knows you're turning. Park and follow the paved path to Holmes Run Stream Valley Park.