Shenandoah Valley Virginia Fly Fishing Report and News From Mossy Creek Fly Shop.
The James and Shenandoah Rivers
Winter has arrived and although the smallmouth fishing slows down in the winter, BIG fish are available if you know where to look!
Brrr! The wind has been ripping and nighttime lows are now in the 20’s. The smallmouth season is over for us but we do still enjoy fishing for them occasionally. Many times while fishing for musky we will find particular ledge systems in our rivers that hold some very large bass. These big fish are generally easier to catch than the smaller fish that almost seem to disappear completely until the springtime. Conventional anglers have a bit of an advantage being able to quickly deliver heavy jig patterns to the bottom of these ledgy structures to get the attention of these fish. Fly anglers should look to use heavy flies like clawdads in size 2 in black, olive, black/blue, or brown. Fish these flies slow along the bottom giving them a short hop. You will need to stay in close contact with the fly eliminating all slack in your line as these fish will generally only pop it once. Hook sets need to be quick and stout and then hang on. Big winter fish fight deep and dirty but 12-16 pound fluorocarbon tippet will allow you to jerk them to the boat. The musky fishing has been on ‘hold’ the past 2 weeks as the wind and leaf litter have been really nasty. The winds over the weekend did help migrate and move most of the leaves through the river system. Fishing for bass and musky should be easier in the coming weeks as the leaves continue disappear and are no longer a factor. If you are into musky fishing, give us a call as our peak winter season is at our doorstep. We are booking trips now through February. We take a break mid March-April and then peak spring season is May-June. Smallmouth anglers should be filling up boxes for the coming spring season. We are booking smallmouth trips April-September of 2017 already. Weekends are almost full and peak season months fill up a few months in advance. Make sure to contact us soon to get you favorite spring season dates!
Smallmouth bass in the 4 to 5 pound range are common in the winter months along prime structure.
It’s that cold time of year again when the big musky are happy and hungry and ready to play!
Load heavy with your big flies and enjoy a float on Virginia’s prettiest rivers in the wilds of winter.
Who says carp are only a warm weather fish? Beasts like this can be found cruising and feeding even in the heart of winter!
Mountain Brook Trout Streams
Wade carefully throughout the winter months if you do go brook trout fishing to not disturb the precious redds that bare our future trout populations.
Winter weather is here and we have very low water conditions in all of Virginia’s mountain streams. We are giving the brook trout a break for the winter from guiding. This is just our personal choice to help protect our local populations of fish. Water levels are also very low and many fish are congregated in community pools until quality water flow returns. Guiding will begin again in a few months if the weather allows in late February or early March. There are some nice brook trout being caught in some of the spring creeks and upper reaches of some local lakes. Anglers are catching some quality size brook trout on small buggers and large nymphs right now. If you need a trout fix and want to avoid the wild brook trout, try the spring creeks or the delayed harvest waters over the next few months.
Get Geared Up
The spring creeks still have some decent water flow and are providing challenging but rewarding fishing right now.
Although the spring creeks scattered throughout the Valley are running below average flow right now, they are still fishing well. Low clear water is making for some technical fishing but savvy anglers are reaping big rewards. Beaver Creek, Mossy Creek, Spring Run, Buffalo Creek, and the upper South River are all producing decent numbers of fish and we are seeing a few monsters landed weekly. We generally recommend fishing big streamers this time of year for aggressive brown trout but with water levels so low we are taking a stealthy approach with 3x leaders and size 4 size baitfish and streamer patterns. Nymph fishing has also been productive and many fish are being targeted by sight fishing size 14 nymphs with midge sized droppers. Some large fish have been taken on small flies lately. Valley spring creeks could really use some rain right now. With improved water flow fishing will get better so continue doing your rain dance!! Until the rains replenish our aquifers, make sure you are loaded with small BWO and midge dries. We have had some good days on Spring Run and Beaver Creek with dry flies lately!
Nick Secrist, a new shop employee, with a brown trout that hammered a mouse pattern before dark on a local spring creek.
Big winter brown trout can be caught on the spring creeks by bouncing large sculpin or crayfish flies on the bottom around the undercut banks.
Some clients don’t want cold hands during the winter so our guides suck it up for the photos!
The rainbow trout have been putting on the feedbag this fall while the brown trout are busy spawning.
Managed Trout Water
Don’t overlook the potential of our trout lakes. Big fish like this don’t see flies often and will readily eat a big streamer!
Winter trout season is in full swing. It would be nice if we had better water flows in our rivers right now but we will just have to continue to wait for rain. Focus your efforts on the reservoirs or the larger rivers like Back Creek, The Jackson, Bullpasture, North River, and South River for the best fishing right now. Here is a list of our favorite winter fisheries that have been stocked and are fishing well. Sugar Hollow Reservoir, Mint Springs, Pedlar River, Elkhorn Lake, Braley Pond, Sherando Lake, North River DH, South River DH, Spring Run, South River SRA, Douthat, Jackson River at Hidden Valley and Poor Farm, Back Creek DH, Bullpasture, Cowpasture, Hardware River DH, Rose River, Hughes River, Robinson River, Tye River, Hawksbill Creek, Maury River, Silver Lake, Hone Quarry, Briery Branch, Stony Creek, Mill Creek, and Passage Creek DH should keep you busy if you are in our area! Stock up on crystal buggers, golden retrievers, kreelex, slump busters, and a variety of attractor nymph patterns in size 12-16 for these VA managed streams. Don’t forget your strike indicators and split shot! Enjoy the fall fishing season!!!