By John McCaslin
It was billed as a “clean water” celebration of the Rush River that flows through Rappahannock County Park, where on Saturday excited anglers of all ages — kids, parents and grandparents — were treated to a family fun day of fishing, “Rush River Conservation Day,” with fly-tying instruction and demonstrations by the sport’s best teachers and representatives.
Hosted by RCRFA, the sporting event was sponsored by the Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) in collaboration with Rappahannock Friends & Lovers of Our Watershed (RappFLOW), Old Rag Master Naturalists (ORMN), Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF), Friends of the Rappahannock (FOR), Rush River Fly, South River Fly Fishing, Orvis, and Trout Unlimited (TU), with fly fishermen Keir Whitson and Sean Knick stocking the Rush River with bountiful triploid Rainbow Trout.
It’s a shame that former Washington Mayor Gene Leggett wasn’t alive to see the Rush River being held up to such high standards by these leading stewards of the environment on Saturday.
“Those of you who were involved with the fight to get the wastewater system into town, and emptied into the Rush River, will recall how opponents claimed we would be destroying the river,” observed John Fox Sullivan, a former Washington Town councilman who followed Leggett into the mayor’s seat. “Many people fought the plan but unfortunately DEQ [Department of Environmental Quality] agreed with our contention that the water would actually be cleaner. They approved our plan and gave us a sizable loan.
“There was a 250 person meeting at the high school where tempers flared and much acrimony . . . but at the time with Gene Leggett as mayor it was a critically important issue for the town.”
Sullivan said it’s nice to know that the river is “so much cleaner, notwithstanding that our system empties into the river only half a mile or so upstream” from the county park.