Shenandoah Valley Virginia Fly Fishing Report and News From Mossy Creek Fly Shop.
The James and Shenandoah Rivers
The sad story of the 2018 season is visible on this graph.
If you take a look at the graph above you will understand the frustration we share with anglers across the mid Atlantic. The rain has been relentless and the fishing has been difficult or impossible as a result since last April. Rain, flooding, and high water events are now being accepted as a common weekly occurrence.
What we have witnessed over the past 9 months is a mass purge of siltation and debris in many of our rivers and streams. Mossy Creek has been flushed and has rock and gravel exposed over much of its bottom. The Shenandoah backwater areas and spots behind islands are completely clean and clear of leaf litter, silt, and debris. In some cases islands have been completely scoured leaving nothing but tree roots, boulders, and bedrock exposed. Hopefully this ‘cleaning’ will mean more and better spawning habitat as well as better benthic habitat for insects and macro invertebrates. We do know that fishing pressure for 2018 was at an all time low. The days we did get out to fish were great. Fish were not weary or spooky and readily ate flies. It is our hope that when water levels drop to safe and normal flows fishing will be off the charts!
Stay tuned for warm weather next week. We are looking forward to chasing musky and smallmouth bass again here really soon!
Mountain Brook Trout Streams
Way up North River nearing the West VA line
There has been quite a bit of flooding up in the mountains this winter. We are hoping the brook trout spawn isn’t completely destroyed. We won’t know much about the young of year population until later this year but water levels in the mountains haven’t been this high through the winter months in decades and things aren’t looking promising. The good news is the overall population of brookies in our local streams was excellent in 2018. Dry River, Skidmore Fork, North River, Ramsey’s Draft, St. Mary’s, and many of the Shenandoah National Park streams not only had good numbers of fish but great populations of large fish. The quality water flows through the summer months allowed our native brook trout to continue to feed and grow.
As the weather warms up next week we will be back out scouting the mountain streams and getting a feel for the season ahead. We are excited for what we anticipate to be an incredible spring season with epic water flows, great insect hatches, and big hungry fish!
The spring creeks are running very full right now. If you are streamer fishing we recommend a sink tip line to ensure your flies stay down in the strike zone.
The good news for the spring creeks is that a lot of silt has been blown out from the main stream channels. Mossy Creek has a beautiful rocky and gravel bottom that stretches over almost the entire length right now. Riffles, boulders and rocks have been exposed that have never been seen before since the creek was opened to the public! Beaver Creek has seen a lot of cobble stone moved around. Some holes are more shallow and some channels have changed as a result from the flooding. Smith Creek has also been cleaned up nicely from months of relentless high water. Expect to see different channels and sheltering lies as new undercuts have developed. Insect activity has been great since December. Blue wing olive hatches on Mossy Creek and Smith Creek have been excellent on days when the water has been lower and more clear. We are looking forward to some warmer weather next week and hope the insect activity will spike and bring about another round of dry fly fishing!
We have caught a good number of these smaller browns this week fishing streamers.
The Kreelex is always a popular fly this time of year and during periods of high water. Fish responded best to it swung this week vs stripped rapidly.
Managed Trout Water
An epic trico hatch, one of the most reliable hatches during the summer months.
VDGIF has been out stocking all winter long. The Jackson Special Reg area was float stocked recently. Back Creek DH, The Cowpasture, Bullpasture, Spring Run, North River upper, North River DH, North River Gorge, and the local impoundments have all been fishing well. Big nymphs, streamers, split shot, indicators, and ice off paste have been necessary this winter. Water flows continue to be well above average so take care when wading or crossing streams!