Skidmore Fork

Skidmore Fork is a tributary of the Dry River in the George Washington National Forest. The stream, owned by the City of Harrisonburg, is the city’s source of drinking water. Skidmore Fork flows into and out of Switzer Reservoir. The creek above the lake is relatively small and suffers in low water. The stream below the dam is essentially a tailwater, and flows are maintained for water consumption downstream.

Skidmore Fork below Switzer Dam is a very productive brook trout fishery. The creek flows about 2.5 miles downstream to the confluence with the Dry River. It is not stocked, although the occasional stocked trout make their way upstream and some fish “escape” the lake through the spillway. The water in Skidmore comes for the bottom of the lake -around 50 degrees, leading to consistently cool water year-round. It can fish well when other streams are too high because of regulated flows from the dam. It is a tight, technical creek with a few deep pools. 

The stream can be accessed where the Dry River crosses under Route 33. The confluence with the Dry is on the south side of 33. This lower stretch of the creek is very tight and can be a bit overgrown in the summer leading to less pressure. A mile west on Route 33, at the foot of Shenandoah Mountain, is a second access. This is the last pull-off before heading up the mountain. From here, there are 1.5 miles of water to the base of the dam. A gated service road follows the creek, giving easy access to this stretch.

Above Switzer, Lake Skidmore Fork is small and droughty. Dry conditions can cause much of the creek to be too low for fish to hold in, limiting the amount of fishable water. There is a small native population that lives in the stream, and numbers and size increase when sustained high water occurs. Brown trout and brook trout from the lake, some as big as 16 inches, have been caught in upper Skidmore! These trout are fall spawners and will try and make their way upstream in October. They will also swim up the creek in search of food in the spring when the water is up. Forest Road 227 off Route 33 will take anglers to the head of the lake for creek access.



Spring and early summer are the best times to fish Skidmore Fork. Dry fly fishing is excellent due to the shallow nature of the stream. There is an incredible Green Drake hatch around Memorial Day. Blue Wing Olive dry flies and small nymphs will work best in the winter. Anglers can expect lots of fish, but small fish. The exceptions would be the big lake fish that find their way into the stream.

Skidmore Fork is a gem of a brook trout stream with easy access, just a 25-minute drive from downtown Harrisonburg.