A Passion for the Fly Rod

 

Since his childhood in Preston County, Grant Harsh has been an avid trout fisherman.   He claims he was bitten by the bug around age 14.  He says when he caught his first fish on a fly rod there was no going back. 

Harsh has managed to fish all over the country and developed himself into a very skilled angler, often pulling fish from places nobody would expect.  

One of his most spectacular endeavors was catching a musky on a fly rod.

"It’s like trying to kill a white rhino with a long bow," said Harsh on a recent edition of West Virginia Outdoors. "I’ve managed to catch two of them and any musky fisherman will know musky are strange fish.  Some days you’ll think there’s one under every log and rock in the river and you can go a week and wonder what happened to all the musky."

Like most fly fisherman, Harsh has taken to fly tying as a near obsession.  He’s most proud of catching those musky on lures he conceived in his own mind and crafted by his own hand at the vise.  He got the idea from trout streamers and began to upsize. He admits, at times, it was beyond bordering on a violation of the rules which define fly fishing.

"The bigger the flies got, the more interest they would start to show, but there becomes a fine line of this is ridiculously large and I can’t even fish with it anymore," he said. "The essence of fly fishing is the line is supposed to be heavier than your fly and that’s what makes the fly go."

There are plenty of instances however in which Harsh has produced diminutive flies which have worked in spades.  Like most, he’s forever working to "match the hatch" with his tying arsenal.  It has served him well with trout caught all over the country. 

Now that he makes his home in Buckhannon, he’ll tell you his favorite water is what he considers his home water right here in West Virginia

"It’s got to be the Elk River. It’s got a little bit of everything," he said. "It has some of the best hatches of mayflies and stoneflies.  It has everything. It just about has every species of these little bugs that trout fishermen try to imitate.  The water quality is good and I’ve seen the mayflies come onto the water at dusk and literally create a fog over top of a riffle."

Harsh says every fish he catches is special and he values the special connection he’s had to each one.  But of all the trout he’s caught, a 23-inch brown trout from the waters of the Elk is his personal trophy and the one of which he’s most proud.

"You just don’t catch them like that out of Elk River very often," he said. 

 





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