Fairfax County, Virginia, January 20, 2012
012012holmesrun bugger
It was a really, really, REALLY cold day. But I went fishing anyway.

I had to be home to meet the kids at the bus stop by mid-afternoon but that gave me a shade over five hours to fish. Other than nearby community ponds my only option was Holmes Run, a stream that is inside the Beltway and relatively close to home. However the only problem with Holmes Run is it's a stream that's inside the Beltway and relatively close to home--my home and a few million others in Fairfax, Falls Church, Arlington, Alexandria and The District. So many anglers, such pounded water. But I haven't been to Holmes Run in a year so after dropping the kids at school I hastily threw a rod and gear into the car and in a half hour I was standing in the parking lot off Columbia Pike rigging up for fishing.

It was cold and I decided to start at the top of Holmes Run and fish down to the park at Chambliss Street. When I got to the stream I saw footprints in the soft sand along the bank and it seems other anglers had beat me to the water. As I moved downstream I kept noticing the same set of boot prints and they were very fresh--probably made a few hours ago and by an experienced Holmes Run angler. They were found at all the usual fish-holding holes and followed the proven paths to the water.

It was cold and as I came up to the first crossing I saw the first evidence of change caused by the massive rainstorm and subsequent flooding on Holmes Run in 2011 when Lake Barcroft overflowed. The whole layout of the water below the first crossing was changed. The water has carved out new flow patterns, cutting away huge chunks of the right bank and leaving a tree standing in the middle of the stream. The water leading to the second crossing has narrowed a lot with silt and gravel filling in most of the deep pockets that used to run along the left side of the stream. I found this to be the case in most of the formerly deep trout-holding water leading to the second crossing.

It was cold and the only thing I managed to hook firmly so far was the bottom of Holmes Run. I sacrificed a small nymph to the fish gods as I quickly moved downstream, fishing the holes quickly before moving on. One gentleman walking his dog stopped to chat and he told me that they recently stocked Holmes Run but I could find no evidence of that. Fish might be there, somewhere, but I sure wasn't having much luck.
It was cold when I arrived at Glen Falls Park at Chambliss Street. The flooding had really hammered the park but there was ample evidence of ongoing stream work and repairs to park facilities. The stream bank, which used to be a jumble of boulders and tree roots, has been graded and reinforced by staggered rows of cut stone and fresh grass seed and landscaping has been installed.

It was cold when I turned around and headed back to the car. No fish for the effort but better to be outside than cooped up indoors. I was thinking of stopping for lunch at one of the many Korean restaurants in Annandale but when I got back to the car I realized I had less than 30 minutes to make it back home to pick up the kids at the bus stop. Naturally the traffic was a mess and I seemed to catch every red light but I was still five minutes late. I saw both of them walking home and to keep them from ratting me out to mom about being late because I was fishing I took them to Sweet Frog for an afternoon yogurt treat.

EQUIPMENT: I used a 3-weight rod, floating line and various nymphs and streamers.

DIRECTIONS: The upper section of Holmes Run Stream Valley Park is located just off 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 cross a bridge with a covered pedestrian walkway. At this point slow down and get in the right lane. The road will begin to slope uphill. To your right is a small, paved road AND a walking/bike path. This is the entrance. Do not drive on the path! It's a sudden right turn so make sure the car on your tail knows you're turning. Park and follow the path downhill to Holmes Run.

The lower section of Holmes Run can be reached at Glen Hills Park on North Chambliss Street. There is no parking lot--the road ends at the park. Follow the path upstream. It takes you to Columbia Pike and the Lake Barcroft Dam. For the more adventurous angler, try fishing Holmes Run downstream of Glen Hills Park. There are wash-down trout there. You just have to find them.

Holmes Run: Top to bottom