Peak season trout fishing has arrived in the Shenandoah Valley!
The James and Shenandoah Rivers
The James River and Shenandoah River are running fairly clear and around average flow. Big smallmouth and musky are on the menu for anglers heading out over the next few weeks. Smallmouth will be making the move from their winter holes towards their spawning areas in 3-4 weeks. The musky will start moving to spawn as well and will become a bit more difficult to pattern and catch though April. For your smallmouth over the next 50 days, Size 2 clawdads in black, black and blue, brown or olive are favorites especially in high dirty water. CK baitfish are great for moderate depths when the fish move into their spawning areas. Chartreuse or white CK baitfish in size 2/0 or 1 are great patterns for searching these large bass. Check your fly rods and reels and think about putting on a new fly line if your is looking old and crusty! The Rio smallmouth bass line is a favorite. It is 2 tone and has a large handling section for mending when fishing deep. It will turn over bugs in the summer heat at long distances as well as chunk out 1/4 oz jig flies to the ledges with the big boys. You can use short leaders in the 7-8 foot range with 0-1X fluorocarbon. Our guides are out now throughout the week in search of some big boys! If you aren’t on your favorite trout stream this week you should give some early season smallmouth bass fishing a try.
Mountain Brook Trout Streams
Water levels are just about perfect everywhere up in the mountains right now. We have had great reports from all over the Shenandoah National Park and GW Forest streams. Caddis, quill gordons, and little black stoneflies are everywhere. You will have a bit of good action on the surface now with your favorite attractor dry flies. We are still finding we are having much more success on subsurface flies right now and that trend will continue until water temps really start to rise. Be sure to have plenty of big nymphs and small streamers and plenty of slit shot and strike indicators. Stimulators, humpies, wulffs, and big bushy caddis flies are great in the early season. These flies are heavily hackled and ride high through turbulent waters. They are also great indicator flies as they stay afloat while holding up weighted nymph patterns. Big pink san juan worms, killer bugs, ck nymphs, prince, and jigged series nymphs will get you covered. Try larger size 12 and 14 flies when water levels are high. Larger bead head flies will sink more rapidly and have a bigger profile to ensure they are seen. 9′ 4X leaders should be fine for your bigger flies until water levels drop. Get out and enjoy the wonderful fishing happening now in the mountains!
Water levels are back to normal spring time flow in the spring creeks. The silty creeks are still running a bit turbid but Beaver Creek and Smith Creek are running pretty clear. There is a bit of precipitation in the forecast but nothing that should affect water levels this week. A few bugs are hatching and we have seen some BWO’s, caddis, and some midge swarms most days but nothing too significant yet. We should start seeing some big sulphurs on Mossy Creek here in about 3 weeks. Until then we are still focusing primarily on fishing big streamers and nymphs sub surface. Big black crayfish bounced on the bottom, large profile kreelex in copper and blue or gold and copper, big dark wool sculpin patterns and large articulated streamers are producing some BIG fish. Nymphs like the psycho prince, nitro caddis, Ck nymph, killer bug, and bloody mary have been working well through the winter and are some of the most productive spring time patterns. Try dead drifting a large crystal bugger, retriever, and sculpin patterns under a strike indicator. This is a very effective way to cover water with a large profile pattern without much movement on the fly. This is one of our favorite ways to stick big fish in high cold water!
Help us spread the word folks!!!! – GET YOUR MOSSY CREEK, BUFFALO CREEK, and SOUTH RIVER PERMITS ONLINE 24/7 FREE!!! CLICK HERE FOR THE LINK!!! BEAVER CREEK PERMITS HAVE CHANGED LOCATION! Store name: 257 Grocery Store location: 6939 Briery Branch Road, Dayton, VA. This store is located 2 miles from the Ottobine Country Store. If on 257 at the intersection at Ottobine, take a left and remain on Rt 257. Cross Beaver Creek and follow for just over 1 mile. 257 Grocery will be on your left. This store opens at 5AM on weekdays and 6AM on Saturdays. They have the 4 permits for $10 like before. They are a great family owned store. Buy breakfast or lunch and we can be sure the permits will have a permanent home! Thanks for everyone’s patience through this short transition. And thanks to 257 Grocery for taking management of the permits!
Managed Trout Water
VDGIF has been out stocking daily throughout the week. They have been planting some large brood size fish in local rivers for the spring season. Fish over 24″ like the one pictured above were stocked in the Ridgeview Park section of South River in Waynesboro. The Pedlar, North River, Jackson, Roaring Run, Rose, Hughes, Passage, Cub, Maury, Hone Quarry, and many more have been loaded up in the past 2 weeks. Egg patterns, san juan worms, crystal buggers, golden retrievers, jigged series nymphs, psycho prince, and kreelex should be in everyones boxes for the stocked fish. Enjoy the next few months of peak trout season folks!