Potts Creek

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Stream Category: A

Wild Fish: Rainbow, Brown, Smallmouth Bass, and Bluegill

Gear:

  • Dry Flies: Pheasant Tail, Sulfur, Adams, Royal Wullf, Green Drake, Terrestrials, and Attractors
  • Nymphs : Pheasant Tail, Hares Ear, Soft Hackles, Prince, Zebra, Green Drake, and Tellico
  • Streamers: Wooly Buggers, Muddler Minnow,  and Leech Patterns
  • Rod: 7’-9’
  • Waders: Yes
  • Net: Yes
  • Polarized fishing sunglasses

Casting: Roll, Side, and Back

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About:

If you are looking for a remote spot to fish, miles away from anything or anyone, then Potts Creek is the place to go. Located in Craig County, Virginia near the town of Paint Bank, Potts Creek is a bit bipolar when you talk about its characteristic’s. Within the four mile stretch of stocked water this stream goes from a meandering field stream to a rocky freestone mountain stream. Needless to say when you fish Potts Creek you need to have a plan of attack.

The easiest way to approach fishing at Potts Creek is to break the stream down into two sections; the Butch Fields Section and the Steel Bridge Section. By doing this you can eliminate certain elements, such as parking and posted land, that could hinder your day fishing at Potts Creek and it will also help you when it comes to planning what to bring.

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The Butch Fields Section is a fairly wide area that can be best describe as a field stream. The water here is slow moving and often not that deep hitting just below the knees. In fact in this area the deepest water you will find will be located along the banks of the stream where trees have fallen or where the stream has washed away the roots of a tree. When fishing this area bring a small fly rod, dry flies, non-weighted nymphs, and a few streamers. Do not use a large suspension device in this area, instead use a large terrestrial or attractor fly combined with a smaller nymph dropper or a yarn strike indicator and a small nymph. Pay close attention to any surface activity and make sure you hit the deep holes with some streamer action.

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The Steel Bridge Section of Potts Creek is a typical mountain stream area and it is my favorite section of Potts Creeks. From the day use parking area you will find a small trail that leads to the creek, once at the creek you will find a hole that is easily 5’-6’ deep and 20 yards long. The water here moves very slowly but it holds monstrous trout, honestly you could easily spend your entire day just fishing this one hole and have great day fishing. However if you continue fishing down the stream from this hole you will find areas that are just as prime as this one. Just below this hole is an area that is nothing but a slate rock riffle/rapids area that holds trout in almost every deep rapid. And on below here the stream settles back down into a freestone mountain stream with flat deep areas. If you don’t feel like walking down the slate riffles you can always fish the area near the parking lot and then walk thru the campground to get to the freestone area. For all of these sections I use my 9’ rod, dry flies, and nymphs. If the fish are not hitting top water dry flies I stick to a multi (weighted) nymph rig and a suspension device. The size of the suspension device will be dictated by how deep you need to get your nymph, but really you could use a small thingamabobber throughout the whole section and be fine.

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Additional Notes and Precautions:

This area is located in the Jefferson National Forrest and because of its seclusion one must keep in mind back country safety issues. There is little to no cell phone service here, I would highly recommend telling a friend or a relative that you are going here and a general time you will be back. Likewise make sure you bring plenty of water, some non-perishable food, and a med kit in case of an emergency (the closest hospital is over an hour away). Lastly, I suggest bringing bear mace because you will be in area that bears are known to be in.

Additionally here are a few places of interest you can stop by in Paint Bank if you have enough time; the General Store, the State Fish Hatchery, and the Buffalo Farms on VA-600.

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Directions:

From Main Street Blacksburg:

Turn on to E Roanoke St; make slight left onto Owens St, Turn Right on Harding Ave/VA-785. Continue to follow VA-785N for 13.1 miles. Turn left onto State Rte. 697 then turn right onto VA-624. Follow VA-624 for 4.5 miles. Turn left onto VA-311 N and follow it for 28.3 miles until you get to Paint Bank. Potts Creek will be the stream you pass over. Turn right on to VA-18 N and you can start fishing from here.

From I81 in Roanoke:

Take exit 141 for VA-419 toward VA-311 N/Salem/New Castle. Turn left on to VA-419 N, then turn right onto VA-311 N. Follow VA-311 N for 35.6 miles until you get to Paint Bank. Potts Creek will be the stream you pass over. Turn right on to VA-18 N and you can start fishing from here.

Toms Creek

Stream Category: B

Gear:

  • Dry Flies: BWO, Adams, Pheasant Tail, Attractors, and Terrestrials (Hoppers)
  • Nymphs : Zebra, Pheasant Tail, Prince, Hares Ear, Blood Worms and Soft Hackles
  • Streamers: Minnow Patterns, Wooly Buggers, and Leach Patterns
  • Rod: 7’-10’
  • Waders: Yes
  • Net: Yes
  • Polarized fishing sunglasses

Casting: Back, Side, and Roll

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About:

Toms Creek is an interesting freestone stream that flows through the heart of Blacksburg to the New River at Whitethorne. Unlike most of the mountain streams that you will find in the New River Valley area this stream flows through farmland resembling more of a spring fed stream. Because a majority of the land that Toms Creek flows through is private property the state of Virginia only stocks the tail end sections; stocking starts just north of the where Toms Creek joins with Poverty Creek going to its end at the New River. While I feel at home fishing the narrow mountain sections of Toms Creek fishing the areas that flow through the farm fields are what makes Toms Creek so enjoyable. There is nothing in this world that brings me more adrenaline than those seconds right after a large trout smashes a hopper, those seconds are what keeps this sport so addictive.

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My usual plan of attack for Toms Creek is to start at Whitethorne and work my way towards the Poverty Creek Junction.   I will throw hoppers, streamers, and dry flies until it starts becoming more mountainous, and then I will switch to strictly nymphs. When the stream gets murky, account of rainfall, switch to flashy nymphs with hot spots and blood worms to produce trout.

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Additional Notes and Precautions:

This stream is very popular for local spin fishermen, be prepared to have deal with the stream being crowded. However during the fall you can combat this pretty easily by going fishing on a Saturday when there is a home football game at Virginia Tech. Stick only to the areas that have the Virginia Stocked Trout signs unless you have permission from the land owners. There is one section that you can fish that has gated access, make sure you close the gate behind you because there are cattle in this area.

 

Directions from Blacksburg, VA:

 

Take Prices Fork Rd heading west towards Radford. Turn Right on to State Rte. 652, McCoy Road. Follow this road for 3.5 miles and turn right on to Mt. Zion Road. Toms Creek will be you cross over at the first bridge you come to. To get to the Poverty Creek Junction area follow Mt. Zion Rd 2.1 miles and turn left on to Poverty Creek Rd. Follow this road until you go over a bridge that goes over Toms Creek (there is a parking area just beyond this bridge).

Poverty Creek

Stream Category: C (JFN)

Gear:

  • Dry Flies: BWO, Adams, Pheasant Tail, and Attractors
  • Nymphs : Zebra, Pheasant Tail, Callibaetis, Prince, Hares Ear, and Soft Hackles
  • Rod: 7’
  • Waders: Chaps or Hip
  • Net: Yes
  • Polarized fishing sunglasses

Casting: Back, Side, and Roll

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About:

If this stream would hold a good and constant water level year round it would contend with Little Stony Creek (Giles County) as being one of the prettiest streams in the New River Valley. Sadly it doesn’t. Poverty Creek which flows down the westward valley between Brush and Sinking Creek Mountain from Pandapas Pond to Toms Creek is a stream that is dependent on the overflow water from Pandapas Pond.

During the summer and early fall the water level is so minimum that it makes Poverty Creek unfishable for trout. However during later winter and early spring Poverty Creek perks back up making it a good fly fishing destination if you don’t want to deal with the crowds hiking Little Stony Creek.

There are several different ways to get to Poverty Creek; you can park at Pandapas Pond and follow Poverty Creek trail which is right beside the stream or you can take the Forest Service Road 708 that is just past Pandapas Pond before you get to Giles County. I prefer using the Forest Service Road; starting at the Virginia Trout Stocking sign just below the second mile marker and fishing up the trail going towards Pandapas Pond. When fishing this stream make sure you are using lighter nymphs or dry flies, heavy nymphs will snag constantly on fallen tree limbs and rocks.  Personally I use small soft hackles, zebra midges, and callibaetis nymphs for this stream.

Additional Notes and Precautions:

This stream is a part of the Poverty Creek Trail System, expect to see hikers and runners on these trails throughout the year. If you are going to use the Forest Service Road 708 during the winter I suggest you travel in an all-wheel drive or 4-wheel drive vehicle, this road can be pretty treacherous. Also because you will be in the Jefferson National Forest during hunting season I suggest you always wear some type of blaze orange or bright colored clothing just in case of hunters.

 

Directions from Blacksburg, VA:

 

Pandapas Pond Entrance: Take US-460 West towards Pembroke. Then turn left onto Forest Service Rd 808 (entrance to Pandapas Pond). The first Parking area will be on your left as you turn onto this road and the second parking area will be the area where the road dead ends. Poverty Creek will be located on the west side of Pandapas Pond and you will see a Virginia State Stocking Sign here.

Forest Service Road 708: Take US-460 West towards Pembroke. Then turn left onto Forest Service Rd 708. Follow this road until you see the Virginia State Stocking sign on your left located roughly 2.1 miles from your initial turnoff.

Mill Creek – Giles County, VA

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Stream Category: Special Regulation

Wild Trout: Brook and Rainbow

Gear:

· Dry Flies: Adams, BWO, Caddis, Stimulators, Terrestrials
· Nymphs : Pheasant Tail, Hares Ear, Prince, and Soft Hackles
· Streamers: None
· Rod: 7’
· Waders: Chaps and Hip
· Net: None
· Polarized fishing sunglasses

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Casting:

With a shorter rod you will be able to make any cast that you need to make on this stream.

About:

Located minutes away from down town Narrows, VA, Mill Creek is the quintessential Virginian mountain stream with its large splash pools, rhododendrons, and boulder sized freestones. With its healthy population of native brook and wild rainbow trout, this technical stream is a nice alternative to Little Stony Creek. However do not anticipate any real size to these trout; they tend to be palm size or smaller.

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Once you arrive at the parking area you can start fly fishing, the main hiking trail follows Mill Creek from the parking area to Mill Creek Falls. I always take a 7’ 5 weight rod, equipped with a long leader just in case I want to go from a dry fly to a nymph. However I would not recommend using a multi nymph rig or even a dry and dropper, stick to rather one nymph or one dry fly

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Half of a mile up the creek from the parking area is a dam that has created a small pond. This particular spot often produces fish when the rest of the stream does not. Not only are the trout very forgiving here but there is very little overhead foliage to deal with; making this area a fantastic place for those learning to fly fish. Multi nymph and dry/dropper rigs can be used at this spot. In fact this is the only place I have ever hooked dual fish on a multi nymph rig.

Additional Notes and Precautions:

Weather is a huge factor when fishing Mill Creek. During the summer months expect the stream to have very low water and during the winter months expect heavy snow and ice. Ultimately fall and spring are the best times of the year to fish Mill Creek.

Mill Creek is also known for its excellent hiking and mountain bike trails so expect parking to be an issue, especially on the weekends.

Directions from Blacksburg, VA to Mill Creek (28.9 mi):

Take US 460 West towards Pearisburg, VA. Turn left onto Thomas Drive just after the last Pearisburg exit (which is just before the New River Bridge at Celanese). Go straight through the four way stop on to VA 100 North. Stay on this road for 3.4 miles then turn left onto Northview Street in Narrows. This road will continue all the way to the parking area. Note: do not take the right onto Poplar Street, it will look like the road is ending but it does not till you reach the parking area.

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Little Stony Creek – Giles County, Virgina

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Stream Category: Special Regulation Water

Wild Trout: Brook and Rainbow Trout

Gear:

· Dry Flies: Adams, Pheasant Tail, Stimulators, Elk Hair Caddis, and small Terrestrials
· Nymphs : Pheasant tail, Hares Ear, Prince, Zebra Midges, Callibaetis, CCG Eggs, and Soft Hackles
· Streamers: I personally don’t use streamers on this stream
· Rod: Shorter rods such as 7’ rods work extremely well
· Waders: Hip waders will work for the whole stream, very few areas will get above your hips
· Net: No net will be needed unless it is just your preference
· Polarized fishing sunglasses

Casting:

As long as you have a shorter rod you can do about any cast on Little Stony, just be mindful of the rhododendrons.

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About:

Little Stony Creek is one of the best native brook trout streams in Virginia. Conversely the fishing is not what makes Little Stony Creek so popular with people. Little Stony Creek is the stream that feeds the 200’ Cascades waterfalls which has been featured on CNN as one of the nation’s top waterfalls. There are two main trails leading from Cascades Parking lot to the falls. The left hand rail going to the falls is the easier route though it leads you away from the stream, while the right hand trail that never leaves the stream is much harder (especially while wearing waders). It is a good idea to decide before you head up the trail what type of trout you are going to fish for. If you are only going to fish for rainbows then you can start fishing as soon as you get to the parking area. The rainbows tend to be located between the parking areas up to the second trail bridge. While the brook trout fishing starts just before the second trail bridge going all the way up to the Cascades. Generally when I fish Little Stony Creek for brookies I will hike the left hand side until I am able to see the second trail bridge and that is when I make my own trail to the stream to start fishing. (Note: start looking for the bridge as soon as you come up to the first mile marker and for the small connector trail that is sometimes overgrown.)

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By nature I am a nymph fly fisherman, I love tying them and I love fishing them. But this stream makes me enjoy dry fly fishing; there are really deep splash pools along with long flats that never disappoint when throwing a dry fly. You can use suspension devices and multi nymph rigs; however the best way to produce fish on this stream is to use a dry fly with a dropper. I personally like using soft hackles or a black callibaetis nymphs. Another good fly to use is a Clear Cure Goo style egg, I know it seems like cheating but they work well.

There are really only a few cons to this stream; there are enormous amounts of tourists that visit the Cascades which in turn fills up the parking area and during the summertime the stream runs really low when there has been a shortage of rain. Really, if you are able to deal with an often crowded trail you’ll love this stream.

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Additional Notes and Precautions:

There is a $3 fee to park in the parking lot and you should always pay it unless you like getting a $75 ticket. You can also get a Seasonal Day Use Pass from the Ranger station in Blacksburg for $30, which will allow you to park without paying the daily fee. The parking can quickly fill up throughout each day, particularly on Saturdays and Sundays. Yet there is now a seven day-a-week shuttle service that is located in Pembroke (I have never had to use this service so I do not know if they charge for this service).

Make sure you also check the weather before you decide to go to Little Stony Creek, severe thunderstorms can pop up in this area without much warning and during the winter time snow storms can leave you stranded in a matter of minutes. Furthermore, if you live several hours away check the weather periodically during the upcoming week of your trip to keep an eye out for long periods of heavy rain, this stream is subject being blow out.

Astonishingly there is cell phone service almost all of the way up to the Cascades in case you were to have an emergency.

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Directions from Blacksburg, VA:

Take US 460 from Blacksburg to Pembroke. Turn right on VA 623, Cascade Drive. This road will take you to the Cascades parking area.

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Dismal Creek – Giles County

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Stream Category: B

Wild Trout: Brook Trout

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Gear:

· Dry Flies: Adams, BWO, Caddis, Stimulators, Terrestrials
· Nymphs : Pheasant Tails, Hares Ear, Prince, Zebra, Copper Johns, and Soft Hackles
· Streamers: Wooly Bugger
· Rod: 7’ and 9’
· Waders: Hip or Chest
· Net: Yes
· Polarized fishing sunglasses

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Casting:

Back and side casts shouldn’t be an issue as long as you are using a 7’ rod, also I recommend using roll casts for the Dismal Creek falls section when using heavy multi nymph rigs.

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About:

While not easily accessible, Dismal Creek provides fly fisherman with yearlong opportunities for both native and stocked trout. Located on the border of Giles and Bland Counties in the Jefferson National Forest this stream is primarily known for its scenic falls. It is not uncommon to see people hiking and camping here due to its close proximity to the Appalachian Trail.

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Dismal Creek has three stocked areas of water; however you can continue fishing on up the stream for native brook trout. The first section, which begins at the End of State Maintenance sign to Dismal Creek falls, is probably the hardest and most overlooked section of stream. This is due to the fact that there are limited options of access areas to the stream. Passed the E.O.S.M. sign the road will begin to snake up the mountain side leaving the stream entirely, leaving only two options: park at the bottom of the mountain or park at the falls. Since starting to fly fish the stream I have only once fished this entire area once and it took all day. While this section does have pocket water for dry flies, I prefer using a multi nymph rig with a jig nymph for the bottom fly.

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Up next is Dismal Creek falls which is the most popular area of the entire stream for fishermen. When fishing this area you will need to be prepared to fish deep even during the summer months. Normally using a 9’ rod I setup a rig consisting of three weighted nymphs one foot apart and a suspension device two to three feet above the last nymph. Don’t be afraid to put on a larger suspension device, because of the falls the surface turbulence doesn’t seem to play a factor while fishing. Roll cast directly into the falls and let the nymphs dead drift through this deep area for best results.

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The final section, which is above the falls to the camping area on Lion’s Den road, is a dry fly fisherman’s dream come to true with its long slow moving flats. It’s really hard to imagine this section being here after seeing the other faster moving parts of Dismal Creek. Just make sure you bring a 7’ rod and some patience for this area, you will get hung up by the rhododendrons.

There are some cons to Dismal Creek though. Unlike the other streams in Giles County, you cannot simply get off of US 460 and be there in a matter of minutes. Ultimately there are no simple ways to get to Dismal Creek, on average it takes over an hour to get to there from any major town or city. The other cons are the elbow to elbow spin fishermen that show up right after a stocking and the tourists that love to swim at the falls.

Additional Notes and Precautions:

Because of Dismal Creek’s seclusion one must keep in mind back country safety issues. There is no cell phone service here, I would highly recommend telling a friend or a relative that you are going here and a general time you will be back. Likewise make sure you bring plenty of water, some non-perishable food, and a med kit in case of an emergency (the closest hospital is forty minutes away). Also suggest wearing some type of bright orange clothing for the hunters in the area. Lastly, if you have a concealed permit to carry I would suggest you do so, this area is known for to have bears, bobcats, and rattlesnakes.

Directions from Bland, Blacksburg, and Dublin, VA:

From Bland, go east on VA 42 about 13.5 miles. Go left (north) on VA 606 for 1 mile and turn right onto VA 201 just past store.

From Blacksburg, go west on US 460 to Pearisburg and take the second exit onto VA 100. Stay on VA 100 for 10 miles. Turn right on VA 42. After 10 miles, turn right on VA 606 and follow directions above.

From Dublin, go north on VA 100 until you get to VA 42 and turn left. Follow directions for Blacksburg from here.