Oh the changing of the seasons, I cannot explain to you how eager I have been for summer weather. To hell with Fall, Winter, and Spring! This past trout season has been one of my worst; from very crowded streams, to piss poor stocking by the VDGIF, and snapping the tip off of my Recon rod, I am very ready for warm water fishing. I haven’t given up on trout altogether, but there is some remarkable feeling about being out on a kayak in the middle of the river, fishing for various fish, that I have been missing since last Fall.
Luckily here in the Roanoke Valley the capability for kayak fishing and warm water fishing is outstanding. Not only do we have the Roanoke River right in our back yard, but we also have the New River, the James River, Smith Mountain Lake, Claytor Lake, Carvins Cove, and several large streams within a reasonable driving range, that hold a large variety of warm water fish. I am stoked to say the least.
This summer I am dedicating my time to knocking out as many warm water “Trophy-sized fish” as I can in order to get my Master Angler award from the state of Virginia. If you have never checked out this program that the state of Virginia is offering you should, it seems like an exceptional way to get Virginian’s fishermen, which are in a set selection of fish, to fish for other species around the state. The only rule that I am imposing on myself for this goal is that I can only achieve this award by using fly fishing gear only. Sorry spin fishermen I will never go back to the dark side of fishing again.
After studying the criteria for Virginia’s “Trophy-sized fish” I came to the realization that several levels of the Master Angler Award can definitely be achieved by a fisherman here in the Roanoke Valley with very little travel involved. The only exception will probably be trout; more than likely a person will have to travel to a spring creek or a mountain river (Jackson River or North River) in order to find a large trout during the summer months.
So here are my ideas (feel free to correct me if I am wrong or if I am missing anything):
Smallmouth Bass: New River or the James River
Largemouth Bass: Local Ponds, Claytor Lake, and Smith Mountain Lake
Striped Bass: Smith Mountain Lake and Roanoke River
Hybrid Striped Bass: Claytor Lake
Rock Bass: New River, the James River, Smith Mountain Lake, and Claytor Lake
White Bass: Smith Mountain Lake
Chain Pickerel: Pandapas Pond and maybe Carvins Cove (I will need to research Carvins Cove more)
Crappie: the New River and the James River
Musky: New River or the James River (this I will have to watch because of water temps, I don’t want to kill them)
Sunfish: Any stream or river around Roanoke
Carp: Any river or lake around Roanoke
Walleye: the New River, the James River, the Staunton River (the Staunton River is 1 hour 40 mins away from Roanoke)
Brook Trout: holed up, big brookies stocked in the Roanoke River. Also any state fee fishing area (i.e. Crooked Creek or Wilson Creek)
Brown Trout: Mossy Creek and the North River in Harrisburg. Any river that might have hold overs in it, and also any state fee fishing area (i.e. Crooked Creek or Wilson Creek)
Rainbow Trout: Mossy Creek and any stream/river that might have hold overs. Also any state fee fishing area (i.e. Crooked Creek or Wilson Creek).
Hopefully by the end of the Summer I will have achieved at least one level, maybe even two. Even if I do not achieve any levels this summer, I am going to fun, challenge myself, and better my current knowledge as a fisherman here in Virginia and I implore each of my readers to do the same this summer. If you do not currently live here in Virginia check your current state’s programs, hopefully they will have something similar to this program.
Master Angler Program
Trophy Fish Size Chart