Brrr! Our region just experienced a chilly week of below freezing temperatures. For some, this meant staying inside by the fire and sipping hot cocoa. For others, we were outside exploring and taking in all of the beauty nature has to offer. From snowy sunrises to frozen lakes, rivers and streams it was a stunning week. A dusting of snow covered the hills of our Appalachian Mountains setting the scene for some amazing sunrises. Because the temperatures stayed so low, many bodies of water developed a thin layer of ice and some small streams appeared to have frozen solid. Locally, we had waterfalls freeze over, resulting in breath-taking scenes.
One of the most commonly viewed and easily accessible falls is Tank Hollow Falls, located in the Cleveland Barrens Natural Area Preserve. This particular Natural Area Preserve was recently opened to the public through the hard-work and efforts of the Town of Cleveland and Department of Conservations and Recreation. Together, they have developed hiking trails, parking area and an information kiosk. The creek feeding the waterfall empties into the Clinch River, adjacent to the ballpark in Cleveland.
The Clinch River was a bone-chilling 32 degrees from January 1 – January 11. This low water temperature caused a thin layer of ice to form over most of the river. The frozen river created some very picturesque views. Geese could be seen playing on the ice and the sound of the ice breaking was like something out of a Star Wars movie. If you traveled alongside the Clinch from Cleveland to St. Paul, you would come to a smaller set of waterfalls spanning across the river, locally known as the South St. Paul Falls. The mighty Clinch refused to let the cold weather slow her down much but the falls did exhibit a great deal of ice.
Just beyond the South St. Paul Falls lies Oxbow Lake. Although the surface of Oxbow has been frozen for many days, that doesn’t mean the fish are frozen too! Generally in the cooler months fish will slow down to conserve energy. When the water is frozen on the surface, fish will school together in deeper pockets and wait for a very attractive meal to be dropped within their reach. As Oxbow thaws and the water temperature begins to rise, the fish will begin to move about a little more. Because the fish will be moving slowly to conserve energy, placement is key to catching them. Slow your reel, increase your patience, brighten up the bait and look for deep pockets with cover.
A few things to remember: always have a valid fishing license for the type/location of fishing you plan to do, do not enter private property without landowner permission, do not walk on railroad tracks, abide by all rules and regulations set by Virginia’s Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, always respect the land – leave no trace. If you have any questions regarding regulations, need a license or fishing tips/tricks/gear, please feel free to stop by Clinch Life Outfitters in downtown St. Paul, VA . We are open 7 days a week: Monday - Friday 4p-7p, Saturdays 9a-7p and Sunday 1p-7p.
Remember: Get outdoors and “Clinch Life!”