Back Creek Delayed Harvest
What a great fishery and a perfect day trip from Harrisonburg!
There are several streams in the Commonwealth named Back Creek. The Delayed Harvest section of the Back Creek described in this stream profile is in Bath County, located on Dominion Power property, from the base of the Back Creek dam for 1.5 miles downstream to the route 600 access. Additionally, Dominion has built a wonderful recreation area around the stream the whole family can enjoy, with picnic shelters, camping, and two lakes, one of which has a beach! Access is good, and the stream is very open in many places, as much of it flows through open fields. Stream restoration work over the years has created excellent habitat for trout and the bugs they eat, so fish hold well in this section throughout the season.
Local guide tip: Back Creek Delayed Harvest is usually one of the first DH streams opened in the state each fall. It is essentially a tailwater, as the water is controlled, and the temperatures are constant.
Delayed Harvest fish take a while to key in on the local bug life. Full-grown trout are stocked starting in October each year; this means fall fishing is best with attractor flies. Brightly colored nymphs like Psycho Princes, Copper Johns, and Ck Nymphs fished deep will lead to hookups. Attractor streamers like Golden Retrievers, Kreelex, and Crystal Buggers will also work well through the winter. The longer the fish live in the stream, the more they will key in on the resident insect life. There are great caddis hatches in the spring, and attractor dries like Stimulators, and Parachute Caddis fish well this time of year. Fishing will largely wrap up by Memorial Day, as the harvest will begin in June.
Back Creek Delayed Harvest is overshadowed by the much better known Jackson River, but many have noted in recent years that it fishes better than the Hidden Valley Special Reg. section of the Jackson. This is because it is managed catch and release only during the trout stocking season (October through May). The drive to Back Creek is twenty minutes past Hidden Valley: however, there is less hiking necessary to access Back Creek. Back Creek Delayed Harvest is an uncrowded, accessible, and productive stream.