Shenandoah Valley Virginia Fly Fishing Report and News From Mossy Creek Fly Shop.
The James and Shenandoah Rivers
Roger crushed dozens of fish over 16″ on the Shenandoah with us last week. The clawdad and crittermite had every fish in the river in a frenzy to eat!
What a few weeks! WOW! Our guide crew is worn out but hungry for MORE! The Shenandoah and James have been insanely good. How good? Imagine fishing a 2 fly or 2 hook rig and landing 2 15″ fish over a dozen times a day! We had one day with over 12 doubles landed- 2 fish on 1 cast! Anglers have been landing 40-100 fish each and getting strikes and missing fish between landing fish. The fishing just doesn’t get much better in our opinion. There is no doubt that spring time is Virginia’s favorite fishing season because everyone just seems to love trout fishing. Don’t get us wrong, trout fishing is incredibly fun, but when was the last time you caught over 100 fish on a 6 or 8 weight that ate streamers or topwater bugs all day long? Smallmouth are pound for pound the hardest fighting freshwater fish- way more powerful than any rainbow trout or brown you might catch. Big smallmouth grow older and even more discriminating on presentations than most spring creek brown trout. The Shenandoah and James Rivers are not only incredibly beautiful, mostly running through forests, but provide incredibly diverse fishing. These warmwater fisheries provide opportunities for not only largemouth and smallmouth bass but a variety of sunfish, redeye, gar, catfish, musky, carp, and even walleye. It is not uncommon to land 4-5 species of fish with regularity on our float trips. If you are a die hard trout angler, may be ask yourself why you wouldn’t take advantage of smallmouth fishing during the summer. The hot season isn’t the best time for trout fishing anyway, so why not enjoy a float down a long lazy river, casting to structure every inch along the way and enjoying the most aggressive eats and fights you can experience on a fly rod on Virginia’s most historic rivers? River traffic has been extremely light. Even on Labor Day Saturday we only saw 1 canoe with fishermen! We have enjoyed fishing nearly 60 miles of the Shenandoah and James with little to no competition. Let us help you get started on your warm water adventures! Just shoot us an email, give us a call, or stop in for all the information you need!
For the next month we will continue to focus on afternoon topwater fishing with Boogle Bugs. Subsurface fishing with Murdich minnows, Ck baitfish and Clouser minnows will work well into the fall. You can fish these flies anywhere in the river right now. Along mid river ledges, at the tails of riffles and runs, and along the banks. Clawdads and Crittermites in size 4 and 6 are still our most productive flies as usual. 6 and 7 weight rods are in play as the water continues to drop and fish become more weary. Long casts and good presentations are in order. When fishing from a boat, remember to cast and angle downstream at least at a 45 degree angle from the boat. Big smallmouth, like trout, will see casts coming in at a perpendicular angle and will likely refuse your offering. Enjoy the last big of the summer bass season!
More of the same! 6 weights, crayfish flies, 12lb tippet, and sore wrists from raking in 16-20″ smallmouth just can’t be beat. 2017 prime dates are already starting to book! Don’t forget the PRIME big fish season April and May will book out months in advance!
Just like our catfish roll, LE has been pretty steady on the walleye kick on the James this year. These fish grow big and put up a great fight.
21.5″ brutish James River smallmouth bass. We missed the great topwater action of July this year from high dirty water, but we have been taking advantage of the quality fishing since water levels dropped!
Our guides have been keeping our 2 hook rigs a secret for a while now but we just can’t resist showing everyone how much fun and how effective these rigs are. You can double up on your smallmouth catches on small and large fish!
Fish the wood structures along the banks and you just may find one of these big badboys waiting to wrestle! The sight fishing opportunities for big largemouth has been awesome! Dr. Branum caught this fish with Bob Cramer the last week of August.
Florida strain largemouth populate the entire south fork and main stem Shenandoah River. This is one of the best largemouth bass fisheries that exists in the Shenandoah Valley.
Bass like this in the 1-3 pound range are common on almost every trip down the Shenandoah.
The numbers of 15-17″ smallmouth bass in the Shenandoah have been staggering this summer.
Although the temps have cooled off a bit, we still won’t be targeting musky until temps drop back into the lower 70’s. That still doesn’t keep the musky from eating our baitfish patterns while fishing for big smallmouth bass. They are always a surprise on light tackle.
The cool nights have perked the musky up to the point we are having follows and eats on topwater frogs, baitfish, and even clawdads and crittermites! Temps in the mid 50’s at night had some aggressively feeding fish in the mornings and the eats and jumps woke us up quickly!
Mountain Brook Trout Streams
Low water and hot weather make for difficult and stressful times for brook trout. With all of the great warm water fishing options in Virginia, why not take advantage of that and give the brookies a rest?
Low water and warm weather the last 3 weeks of August put a real damper on the mountain trout fishing. We recommend waiting until water levels are replenished before getting your brook trout fix in before the spawn.
Get Geared Up
Art landed this 20″ beast on a large grasshopper pattern. The big trout are starting to really key in on big hoppers and favoring them over hex, beetle, and ant patterns.
Go big with your hopper patterns! The mature hoppers are the size of a cigar butt this time of year and will be happily bouncing around into October!
Water levels are dropping back to normal summer time low and the with crystal clear conditions, you will need to be stealthy in your approach to make presentations on the spring creeks. The beetle fishing this summer was excellent and now the fish are keying into big grasshoppers. Fish are still sipping tricos in the mornings and finding a few left over hex’s in the evening hours but their main focus will be on giant hoppers through September. We like to prospect the deep channels and grasslines with Fat Alberts, Donkey Kong Hoppers, Henry’s Forks, Para Hoppers, PMX, and Hollywood Hoppers. All of these flies are big and buoyant enough to hold up large dropper nymphs. Fishing pressure was rather heavy over the holiday weekend but we expect weekday traffic to slow down after Labor Day, especially if we don’t get rain anytime soon.
This big brown has made a lot of anglers happy! It was caught and photographed April 19th 2015, then again in December of 2015, and then recaptured by VDGIF while sampling the creek in August 2016. A testament to safe handling, catch and release fishing, and a quality spring creek!
Managed Trout Water
In less than 1 month the VDGIF will be back out stocking your favorite lakes and streams! It is time to gear up for the fall and winter season. Stop by and see us!