North River Delayed Harvest

Fly fish the North River delayed harvest area during the fall, winter and spring months and enjoy some of the best prettiest freestone water around.

You can fish the North River most of its length from its head in the mountains to the Shenandoah Valley Floor. The upper stretch above Elkhorn Lake is terrific brook trout water. This section was restored after flood damage by thanks to restoration efforts of VDGIF and Trout Unlimited. Brook trout fishing gets going in March and continues into late June or until water levels get low in early summer.

Local guide tip: This stretch of North River is notorious for enormous caddis fly hatches in the early spring!

The delayed harvest section of the North River extends from the base of Elkhorn Dam in the North River Multiple Use Area downstream 1.5 miles to the head of the Staunton City Reservoir. This is a very remote, mountain top stretch of trout water making it a fly fisherman’s paradise. The delayed harvest area provides excellent scenic fly fishing opportunity during the fall, winter and spring months in some of the best looking freestone water around.

Hendricksons, drakes, BWO’s, sulphurs, quill gordons, and yellow and black stoneflies are readily found on North River. High sticking nymphs in pocket water or swinging small streamers or wet flies down and across current are also execellent tactics. When the water levels are high in the spring time, multiple nymph rigs with caddis larvae and emerger patterns can be highly productive.

North River below Staunton Dam provides miles of remote stocked waters. Because this is a remote area, we recommend fishing this stretch with a friend. Even though this is stocked water, you can find the occasional brook trout in the lower stretches as well.

Another public stretch of  North River is near Natural Chimney’s. This is also stocked waters and doesn’t hold any wild fish. Once North River gets below Natural Chimney’s most of the water goes underground to fill the aquifer feeding the springs of Mossy Creek.

Directions from Mossy Creek Fly Fishing

  • Take 33 West to I-81.
  • Take I-81 South to Exit 240 (Mt. Crawford/Bridgewater Exit).
  • Take Rt. 257 West(3.3 Miles) to the town of Bridgewater.
  • Turn left at the T intersection onto Rt. 42 South.
  • Take 42 South(3.7 miles) and go straight over the bridge where 42 takes a 90 degree left turn.
  • Continuing straight over the bridge follow Mossy Creek Road to Mount Solon. Stay straight on this road until you reach Stokesville.
  • Take a left at the fork in the road(cross the 1 lane steel bridge) and continue until you see the signs for North River Multiple Use Area on the left.
  • Follow the signs to Elkhorn Lake.
  • Park at the lake and follow the foot trail over the backside of the dam.

Virginia State Fishing Licenses Are Required

Get your Virginia freshwater and trout license here: