Nimblewill Creek

Stream Location: Chestatee WMA

Wild Trout: None

Stocked Trout: Brown, and Rainbow

Other Species of Note:

Gear: Smaller Sized Rods

Dry Flies: Adams, Caddis, Royal Wulff, Terrestrials 

Nymphs: Caddis Puppa, Pheasant Tail, Prince, Hares, Stone, Squirmy Wormy, Mop, and Perdigon 

Streamers: Small Minnow 

Waders: Yes

Net: Yes

Wading Stick: Yes

Casting: Tuck, Overhead, and Roll

About:

Nimblewill is a marvelous cute freestone/clay bed stream, that is in the middle of nowhere. If you are wanting to go fishing for stocked trout and want absolute seclusion then this stream is a must. The only downside to fishing here is that it is in a primitive campground area, so there are the occasional campers and fishermen that you will have to deal with. If you don’t mind this then Nimblewill is a lot of fun. Actually the first time I explored here I had more on the road to Nimblewill then I did actually fishing there, the stream crosses the stream several times before you get to a good fishing area so you in up with a very wet and muddy vehicle before leaving.

Realistically this stream is not the best stream for trout, because of very weak water flow. During the summer and fall, unless an angler was to fish after a thunderstorm, the stream is very shallow in almost all areas. There are only a few large holes that can hold trout, providing them with the oxygen that they need. However there are a couple fast riffles here and there that keep the stocked trout going. Aim towards fishing these larger holes and riffles.

Usually, and what makes Nimblewill a very nice spot to fish, the stocked trout tend to school together and you can catch ten to twenty fish in just one hole. It is absolutely one of the best places for a beginner fly fishermen to hone their skills on; they will catch fish, they can practice almost every cast, and there is very little pressure. Just don’t expect any size in the fish that you catch. It is also a perfect place to take a person on a date on if they are interested in learning to fly fish, like I said before it is just a great place to learn and it will you 

Directions:

Dicks Creek

Stream Location: Chestatee WMA

Wild Trout: None

Stocked Trout: Brown, and Rainbow

Other Species of Note:

Gear:

Dry Flies: Adams, Caddis, Royal Wulff, Terrestrials 

Nymphs: Caddis Puppa, Pheasant Tail, Prince, Hares, Stone, Squirmy Wormy, Mop, and Perdigon 

Streamers: Small Minnow 

Waders: Yes

Net: Yes

Wading Stick: Yes

Casting: Tuck, Overhead, and Roll

About:

Besides mostly being on private property the sections that are open to the public make Dicks creek one of the prettiest gems of the Northern Georgia trout streams. Nested in one of the gorges that run through Northern Georgia, Dicks creek is a major limestone creek that every angler should visit at least once. What makes Dicks creek such a wonderful place to go to is it’s monstrous waterfalls, yes I am very much a sucker for waterfalls. But the fishing here is also brilliant, above and below the falls. However one could easily be discouraged by Dicks creek by seeing all of the water that is located on private property, that water just screams “fish are in these waters.”

Even though the prettiest parts of Dicks creek are in private waters, the rest of the stream is a delightful place to fish for all skill levels. I mainly focus on the waters below the falls down to the “No Trespassing” sign and the waters from the parking area, located at the trail of Waters Creek, down to the head of the waterfalls. These waters are moving very fast in certain sections, and in others they are dropping down to form enormous deep holes. I am almost certain that there are holdover trout in these waters that are becoming giants. However I am also certain that a majority of the holdover trout are getting into the waters below the “No Trespassing” sign and probably spawning.

When fishing these waters use a two nymph dropper system and make sure you are fishing them very deep. The fish here also love squirmmies, mop flies, and Pat’s stoneflies. I would not bother fishing dry flies at all, well not unless you see fish hitting the surface on a regular basis. Also I would not recommend using streamers here, the reason I say this is that I have seen too many spin fishermen here that have constantly gotten skunked using spinning flies while I am catching fish, using nymphs, on every other cast. 

Above the parking area at Waters creek trail head the water here are very slow and meandering. Occasionally you will find a good deep hole, but for the most part this area is a slow riffle area. In this area I recommend using a single nymph set up or using a streamer, casting the streamer to the other bank and quickly moving it back across to yourself.

Directions:

High Shoals Creek

Stream Location: Swallow Creek WMA

Wild Trout: Native Brook Trout and Wild Rainbow Trout

Stocked Trout: None

Other Species of Note:

Gear: Seven Foot Rod, nothing above this.

Dry Flies: Adams, Caddis, Royal Wulff, Terrestrials 

Nymphs: Caddis Puppa, Pheasant Tail, Prince, Hares, Stone, Squirmy Wormy, Mop, and Perdigon 

Streamers: None 

Waders: Yes

Net: Yes

Wading Stick: Yes

Casting: Tuck, Overhead, and Roll

About:

How can I describe High Shoals Creek? A place that I never thought would have existed here in Georgia. A place that is so incredibly like Virginia, a place that has such great beauty, while is absolutely so frustrating. I guess I can describe it for those that are familiar to the brook trout scene in Virginia with three words: Little Stony Creek. It reminds me soo much of Little Stony Creek that I can not put my head around it at times, it has all of the characteristics and all of the headaches. 

For those that are not familiar with Little Stony Creek or the Cascades (as the stream is generally known as), Little Stony is one of Virginia’s premier native brook trout and wild rainbow trout streams. It is one of the few heavily restricted streams in Virginia because of such. However it is also one of Virginia’s most popular hiking destination because of the beautiful water falls at the end of a two mile hike. Honestly it is one of the bane’s of my existence during heavy tourist season.

Just like Little Stony Creek, High Shoals Creek, is a beautiful hike to two amazing water falls, it also has some of the prettiest native brook trout and wild rainbow trout in it, and of course there are a billion tourist that love to frequent High Shoal Creek for the waterfalls. It is maddening! 

Forgetting about all of the people that come here, disregarding the no climbing the falls signs that people ignore just to cliff dive right into a monstrous hole, a hole that probably held dozens of native brook trout at one time, lets talk about the stream itself. As far as I know there are no restrictions on this stream, which shocks me, you would think the State of Georgia would  have some type of restrictions for this stream because of the native brook trout. However you would be wrong. Also this stream is not as easy of a hike as Little Stony Creek is, even though it .3 miles shorter. Also I really hope you like Laurel bushes, they are everywhere.

First of all you will have to drive straight up a mountain, praying that no tourists are there – that you will not find cars parked all the way up to the mouth of the trail. Then at the mouth of the trail you will have to hike about 1.5 miles straight down the mountain you just drove up. The trail is very steep, I really hope you have brought some type of studded boots or sandals, but it eventually levels off right where an angler should start jumping into the creek to the right of the trail. Unlike Little Stony Creek, you will start fishing the head waters at High Shoals and work your way down stream (that is if you do not care to be as stealthy as you should be in brook trout waters). Each and every hole is roughly the same for the first quarter mile or so, big drop into a big hole, with a very long and shallow pool following it. All of which has some type of Laurels to block easy overhead casts. This is where having a very short rod will come in handy, you will not be able to do many false cast for distance, instead you will need to maximize what little false casts you can make, and rely on precision shots. Also you will need to use roll and tuck casting every chance you can.

As you work your way down the stream you need to use extreme caution and common sense when it comes to some of the holes that you can fish. Remember you are going down a mountain, with very slick and sharp rocks, and it is at least a 1.5 mile hike out – this is not the area that you want to fall and break anything in. Each hole will get a little more difficult as you come up to the first small waterfall with the Laurel bushes getting thicker and thicker. After you get past this section you will come up to the first waterfall called Blue Hole Falls, if you are lucky enough to fish this section without any tourists jumping into the hole from above, make sure you fish this section deep with a  heavy nymph, mop, or squirmy. Hopefully you can coerce a fish out hiding. Below this hole are several other holes, again be very cautious because the second waterfall, which is named High Shoals Falls, is very high and is blocked by Laurels. Below the second waterfall fish the small trickle that forms out of the falls, you will be amazed by what is there, also this starts the wild rainbow section of High Shoals Creek. From here you can continue to fish down to where it meets the Hiwassee River, however this is as far as I have ventured to fish. More will come as I try my luck down this stream.

Additional Comments:

After reading this I hope that I have conveyed some very important information, and I hope it doesn’t dissuade you from fishing this gem. Ultimately you need to plan to come here during the week time when no one is off to fish or hike, be very careful and plan out a trip here. Notify someone of when you are going here and what time to expect you back. I would even suggest telling them a time that you will call them when you get to Helen or back into cell service, this way they can notify the Towns County Sheriff’s office for help if you don’t call back.

Directions:

Upper Chattahoochee River

Stream Location: Chattahoochee WMA

Wild Trout: Upper Sections are considered to be a Wild Trout Stream (Rainbow and Brook)

Stocked Trout: Brown, and Rainbow

Other Species of Note:

Gear: Waders

Dry Flies: Adams, Caddis, Royal Wulff, Terrestrials 

Nymphs: Caddis Puppa, Pheasant Tail, Prince, Hares, Stone, Squirmy Wormy, Mop, and Perdigon 

Streamers: Small Minnow 

Waders: Yes

Net: Yes

Wading Stick: Yes

Casting: Tuck, Overhead, and Roll

About:

One of the main things as an outsider to Georgia is how similar Georgia is to Virginia. In the mountainous sections the weather is usually cool and mild, while the flat lands are hot and humid. Only when it comes to winter can you tell the true difference between Virginia and Georgia, and realistically this change can really only be felt from the Atlanta Metro area south, everything else is relatively the same as Virginia. As with the weather, fly fishing for trout in Georgia is realistically a lot like Virginia. You have your high mountain native brook trout, wild rainbow trout, and occasional wild brown trout. In other places you have your stocked streams, and in several of the river systems (i.e. the Chattahoochee) you have your dam tail water wild trout. Also both the State of Georgia and Virginia have Delayed Harvest Sections during the Fall, Winter, and Spring months. However there are two main differences that an angler will see between Virginia and Georgia; the first is that the stockings month are backwards from Virginia, during the Spring, Summer, and early Fall months the State of Georgia stock their designated stocking streams. The second difference is that instead of stocking by Counties (like they do in Virginia) the state of Georgia have Wildlife Management Areas. At first it was a bit frustrating to find information on where and how to fish – I knew the fish were there, but like when I started fishing in Virginia the information out there is outdated and the only way to figure stuff out was to talk to local Fly Shops and to explore.

The main reason why I wanted to tell you all of this up front is because this will be the first of many posts about the trout waters here in Georgia. It has taken me a little over a year to get used to these waters and feel comfortable enough to actually talk in detail about them. So without further ado, here is my first Georgia stream recommendation and description of said stream.

The Upper Chattahoochee is a section of water in the Chattahoochee WMA area that extends from Little Crumbly Knob Mountain to the town of Helen Georgia. The first thing you must understand is that some of the water is private, obey the no trespassing signs at all costs. Also make sure that you lock up your vehicles and that they are parked in spot so that others can easily get by you. The last and final thing to know about this water way is that it is amazing. Honestly it is better than most of the streams that I have fished in Virginia; knock on wood, I have never been skunked on this stream and have fished it year round. Though the Upper Chatt is only stocked during the Spring, Summer, and Fall months an angler can always find a hold over somewhere through this freestone creek. Also in the extreme back wood sections, if you are able and willing to make the hike, an angler can find wild rainbows, and native brook trout. Also this stream is one of the few streams that I have found Tiger Trout in, yes the State of Georgia does stock tiger trout, however I have yet to find any wild tiger trout in these waters… but the possibly of finding wild tiger existing here is very high.

Now what can I say about the actual stream itself; if you know me then you know that by far my two favorite streams in Virginia are Big Stony and Little Stony Creek in Giles County, well the Upper Chatt is a mixture of these two streams. Very large boulders protrude from the water, that lead into deep long holes, while in other area there are very fast riffles followed by very shallow runs. Because of all of this different types of flows, fish can be found almost anywhere throughout this stream. However aim for the deeper pools, here you can always find trout rather at the drop, the deep middle sections, or at the rear of the hole.

One of my favorite things to do is use a good pair of polarized sunglasses and watch how the fish are eating, if they are constantly hitting top water I will use a dry/dropper rig or if they are constantly looking like they are going after stuff on the bottom I will fish two heavy nymphs and float the nymphs straight through that area.

Also as a member of the local Trout Unlimited, please be mindful of your trash, if you get a chance please bring a trash bag and fill it up as you fish. Keeping this stream beautiful is a very hard chore since it is a major tourist destination for campers during the stocking season. 

Additional comments: 

There are very few pull off points to the stream, and some of these still leave your vehicle very close to a road that has a ton of traffic on it. Be mindful also of trespassing and take precautions when it comes to little to no cell phone service. Also, and I can not stress this enough when it comes to deep mountain streams, be mindful that you are in bear country, be safe.

Directions:

Roanoke River – City – Wasena

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Stream Category: Category A – stocked 8 times between October 1 and May 31.

Type of Stream: Freestone River

Stocked Trout: Rainbow and Brook

Other Species of Note: Smallmouth Bass, Largemouth Bass, Sunfish, and Carp

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Gear:

  • Dry Flies: Adams, Midges, Caddis, and Terrestrials
  • Nymphs: Pheasant Tails, Hares Ear, Prince Nymphs, Zebras, Caddis Pupae, Grub Worms, Squirmy Wormies, and Mop Flies
  • Streamers: Kreelax, Leeches, Sculpins, Wooley Buggers, and Minnow Patterns
  • Rod: 9-10’ 5-7 weight (depending on what species of fish you are targeting) Also Switch and Spey rods can be used on most sections.
  • Waders: Chest or Convertible Chest ( During late Spring, Summer, and early fall you can wet wade in shorts and river sandals. During late Fall, Winter, and early Spring waders will be needed)
  • Net: Big fish can be caught throughout the Roanoke River, it is highly recommended to bring a trout catch and release net wherever you are on the Roanoke. Additionally when fishing for Carp a larger fish net is recommended.
  • Additional Gear: Wading Staff

Casting: Overhead, Side, Tuck, and Roll.

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About:

***I apologize for not sugar coating this post, normally I try to keep my opinions to myself when it comes to Stream Posts for this site, however staying true to my intent of this site this must be said.***

Located in the City of Roanoke from Wasena Park to River’s Edge Sports Complex, adjacent to the Roanoke River Greenway, this section is a prime example of how detrimental over fishing and lazy “spot” stockings can be to a river.

This section is one of the easiest to access, a favorite of kayakers, tubers, bicyclists, walkers, and runners. Offering fast runs, deep pools, and several areas that are easily access by handicapped people. It’s a beautiful spot, it offers not only the outside lifestyle that most Roanokers love, also it offers several restaurants and bars that are within yards of the river. Sadly, when it comes to fishing, this area is a horrible and should be avoided.

So why is this section so bad that I would recommend avoiding it? Honestly it has nothing to do with kayakers and tubers, during the times that this section is stocked (October 1 – June 15) there are not that many kayakers and tubers out on the river to make a difference. The big problem is the lazy spot stockings that the state of Virginia executes each time this section is stocked. I understand that it might take extra work for the DGIF personnel and volunteers to stock different areas of this section instead of their yearly favorites (every low water bridge), nonetheless these yearly favorites give the stocked trout little chance to migrate through the river in order for this section to be a challenge to fishermen. Stocking in this section truly needs to be “spot” sporadic so that this section can be enjoyable for all fishermen.

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The final problem, the one that plagues every easily accessed stocked trout stream here in Virginia is over fishing. I’ve seen some of old photos (not of the Roanoke) where fishermen are elbow to elbow casting into the same hole after a stocking, every sized fish being taken, well this section of the Roanoke is exactly like those photos. People are literally elbow to elbow on the banks and off of the low water bridges fishing exactly where the state has stocked. The day after stocking, sadly, the only thing to be found in the river are hooks and fishing line that have been left to rot, zero fish- the occasional fish can be found on the bank, dead, from swallowing some fishermen’s power baited bass hook. I apologize to those spin fishermen that follow this site, however spin fishermen need to rethink how they fish and understand the harm that they cause to a river/stream by using tackle to big for trout (and probably bass).

So what are some solutions that could help this section of the Roanoke River? Honestly if the state of Virginia made this section delayed harvest or catch and release, this section of the Roanoke River would be one of the top areas to fish in the state. Because of it’s beauty, ease, and local attractions fishermen throughout the state would seek out this section to fish, knowing (because of the restrictions) that big fish will be found in this section throughout the State’s Trout season. Until the state addresses these issues, I can not in good conscious say that this section is worth the time and effort to fish.

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Directions:

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Game Plan for Summer 2017

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

 

In short, Luck’s always to blame.

Six months ago I almost ruined my entire ’16-’17 trout season. On a late summer day last year I asked one of my buddies to go fishing with me on one of our off days, both of us were looking for a nice end of the summer trophy fish. He mentioned Mossy Creek and the New River, while I suggested the Jackson River and the James River. All four of these places have citation fish caught each year out of them, however the problem that we were both stumbling over was that the odds of us both catching a trophy sized fish, on the same day, out of the same body of water was just damn near impossible unless we travelled outside the state of Virginia.

Over the past four years I attribute catching a lot of my citation trout on being vigilant to watching the stocking reports and putting myself in the right situation to catch a citation, but realistically I attribute my citations to being lucky. Hell I know my citation smallmouth bass was without doubt luck because it was the only fish I caught that whole day. So trying to figure out a place that both my buddy and I could be in the right situation, to have the right conditions, and to have luck smile on us at the same time was definitely a quandary. Luckily I had heard of one place that would provide us with such a chance; Cedar Springs Fish Farm.

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Smallmouth Bass Citation New River

I had heard about Cedar Springs from several different people I work with and from several fishing guides that I knew in the area. There general consensus was that Cedar Springs was just an amazing place to fish. I know a lot of people frown upon fishing farm fisheries, but sometimes as a fisherman you just need to have that one day to be able to catch a monster fish and farm fisheries provide you with that chance. Also some days you just want it to be more about the trip, to enjoy the surroundings and just relax without being crowded.  Simply put Cedar Springs Fish Farm provides all of this.

 

Cedar Springs Fish Farm, which is nestled just outside of the small town of Rural Retreat, VA (near Wytheville) is a wonderfully large farm, running through the farm’s interior is Cripple Creek; a medium sized freestone creek with large, deep holes. Although the State of Virginia feels that the minimum stocking size of a trout should be 7 inches, Cedar Springs doesn’t feel this is adequate, they do not stock anything below 15 inches.  Add in the fact that Cedar Springs only allows 6 anglers on the farm per day, you end up having all of the right conditions to potentially have a perfect day.

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Potts Creek Rainbow – Damn near citation

What I found to be truly special about Cedar Springs is that you still have to fish it like any other creek. It is not easy fishing, you have to work for every fish you put to net; from targeting a big fish, to casting your line so it doesn’t spook the fish, to proper drift management.  You will have to use all of your skills to catch a fish at Cedar Springs.

Not only did my buddy and I catch several trophy trout that day, but also my buddy’s dad, who was a late addition to our party, also caught several trophy rainbow trout.  In the end it was one of those days that all three of us will remember and be able to look back and smile on.  However like I said at the very beginning, that day almost ruined my trout season for this year. The very last rainbow trout I caught that day was a monster; just looking at this fish a person will realize it truly was a fish of a life time. Unfortunately no one in our party had enough sense to bring a measuring tape on our trip. I had to wait until I got back to Roanoke to measure it. Honestly that drive back from Cedar Springs to Roanoke was euphoria mixed with gut wrenching dread. I could not get over the fact of how huge that rainbow was, I dreaded learning how big it actually was, knowing that catching a fish like it again in any of Virginia’s streams was going to be hard accomplishment. My personal best for a rainbow trout is 24 inches, I caught that fish during the ’15-’16 season out of Big Stony Creek in Giles County. Fortunately after I measured the Cedar Springs monster rainbow I was completely euphoric, it only measured in at the minimum citation limit of 22 inches – my trout season was safe, and with a little luck, there was still hope of finding a fish in Virginia’s streams that could equal it without it coming from a fishery.

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Cedar Springs, Cripple Creek Monster 22″ Citation

 

Side Note:

I just wanted to relay something that I only became aware of over the past week. I knew that the state of Virginia awards certificates for each citation an angler catches, what I did not know is that the State of Virginia also keeps up with every citation and upon catching 5 citations of different species of fish (ex. rainbow trout, brown trout, brook trout, smallmouth bass, and musky) the state will award that angler a Master Angler award (which is a certificate and badge). There are four different levels, each with its separate requirements. Personally I think this is a very cool thing that the state of Virginia does, because it forces anglers to get out after other species that normally they wouldn’t even consider fishing for.

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Roanoke River Brook Trout – Damn near citation

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Big Stony Creek, Giles County Rainbow Trout Citation 24″

Geographical Oddity

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Have you ever clicked with something to the very being of your soul, something that you do not have share with anyone else? For some people it is hunting, some it is collecting comic books, others it is building or gardening. For me it has, and will continue to be, fly fishing. Without it, nothing in the world truly makes sense to me; it is my life.

When I first moved to the Roanoke Valley I was a bit concerned. If you looked at a map of the different places I fished when I was living in Blacksburg, you would notice a trend; they are all within a 30 minute drive of Blacksburg. However now that I live in Roanoke every one of those favorite streams are easily over an hour away.

Once I moved I decided that I would need new streams to fish close by, not knowing of any I began my research on Virginia’s Department of Game and Inland Fisheries stocking map. I had already been to Roaring Run (Roanoke’s alternative to Little Stoney Creek) several times when I lived in Blacksburg, I was certain there had to be good trout streams in the Roanoke Valley area. After my researching I noticed that Roanoke was a “geographical oddity,” exactly one hour away from even one stocked streamed, with the exception of Glade, Tinker, and of course the Roanoke River. Those three in particular I wanted nothing to do with. Now I am not trying to sound like a fishing snob, but the last thing I wanted to do was fish in an urban setting. Anytime I even considered urban fishing the hobbit in my head would start screaming, “I need mountains, Gandalf, Mountains….” Unfortunately without packing up my Jeep and being prepared for an hour drive, accessible mountain trout fishing like I loved in Blacksburg was not feasible.

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Realistically though, the Roanoke Valley (Roanoke/Salem) is one of the most enjoyable areas I have lived in; it has this vibe that the local government is trying its best to contend with places like Asheville and Richmond for the best land back area. The Roanoke Valley Government, along with several local businesses, is also making the Roanoke Valley into an Outdoors person’s mecca. I mean really, it is hard to beat the hiking, biking, and kayaking that you can do within a 30 minute radius of Roanoke. However hiking, biking, and kayaking just do not cut it for me; I need to feel more involved with nature, a feeling that only comes to me when I am able to fly fish deep in the mountains. Needless to say, during the summer months I was seriously bummed out living in Roanoke and took a lot of day trips out of town.

In my defense, the people that I had spoken with about fly fishing on the Roanoke River had not impressed me with the Roanoke’s ability to be a good trout stream. Add in the fact I felt that the Roanoke, Tinker, and Glade are a bit trashy and in an urban area, yeah there was no way I wanted to fish in the Roanoke Valley. Yes you can fish for carp, bass, and stripers (below Explorer Park going to Smith Mountain lake), but none of these fish was what I wanted to fish for during summer, I wanted trout. Again in my defense, I decided to fish for carp, bass, or pretty much anything else I would just go to the New River or to the James, essentially giving me an excuse to get out onto big water. To my surprise, after a late summer evening at the Salem Delayed Harvest Section, I found a love for the Roanoke River.

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Since this past summer was such a dry summer for the Roanoke Valley, the Roanoke River was extremely low. I was under the assumption that the Roanoke River would not have many hold over trout, much less wild trout because of the water levels and water temperatures. Man, I was wrong! My bad! There are a lot of nice places in Roanoke that the river will hold stocked rainbow and brook trout year round, and even though the State of Virginia no longer stocks brown trout, they can still be found year round throughout the river as well.

By no means am I an expert of the Roanoke River, and it will take me at least another year before I am confident to do a full “Stream” post for it. However I am very pleased with the trout fishing so far. I now love the idea of being able to drive to place before work, not far from the road, being able to fish it, and then go to work that afternoon. Although this doesn’t completely replace my urge to fish in the mountains, it does help the matter.

Other than the Roanoke has heavy foot pressure (the Greenway Park runs right next to it) and it being quite dirty in spots (the City is fighting this through local cleanups), the only issue I have is the fishing pressure in the Put and Take sections, which seems to fish out quickly. Currently there two Delayed Harvest sections and two Put and Take sections in Roanoke/Salem, this is not counting Tinker and Glade which is both Put and Take. I feel like these Put and Take sections are hurting Roanoke Valley’s broad plan to make the area more of an outdoors person destination when people go there to fish and there are no fish.

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Not that I do not want every fisherman to get their monies worth out of their trout fishing stamp, I think the benefits of Roanoke becoming a very strong fishery to compete with those in Western North Carolina and Tennessee out weights losing the Put and Take sections. Instead I would suggest two sections of Delayed Harvest and two sections of Catch and Release only, leave Tinker and Glade as Put and Take though. Roanoke Valley fishermen would still be able to take fish from the area within regulation, but it would also help the area grow its wild trout population and inspire tourism. This also prompts me to say, I would love to see Southwestern Virginia come up with its own trout trail like Western North Carolina has, with the Roanoke Valley serving as its heart.

I will always remember the first time I went to the South Holston River in Bristol, Tn, it was awe inspiring to see wild brown and rainbow trout by the hundreds hitting little sulfurs all around me, all I could think was that if I lived at the South Holston I would never go anywhere else. Now imagine that being the Roanoke River. Although I think that the Roanoke River cannot ever be as great as the South Holston, because of South Holston’s dam and rich/clean water supply, I do think the Roanoke has a lot of promise and has the potential of becoming a top notch fishery in Virginia.

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Virginia, especially Southwestern Virginia (I am a tad biased), is one of the most beautiful states on the east coast. We have everything from skiing, to breweries, plus beauty of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Literally everyone should want to come to Virginia to vacation. Although our larger species fish (smallmouth, bass, and musky) do bring in fishermen, our lack of trout streams just make it easier for trout fishermen to bypass Virginia altogether. So how do we go about changing this attitude? Well I think transforming the Roanoke River and other streams into excellent fisheries is a good initial start. I also think that the State of Virginia should work with current landowners to open up streams that have been closed to the public before, also providing help through the use of fingerlings to beef up wild trout populations. Finally I think Virginia needs to have at least one Delayed Harvest Stream, one Catch and Release Stream, and one Put and Take Stream in each county that trout stockings occur. It is the only way to be fair to every fisherman, in state and out of state, and to make sure that the monies spent on Virginia Trout fishing are being well used and preserving fishing in the State of Virginia.

The Lies of Leaders, and Tippets, and Men!

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Caught on the Roanoke River

Whether you are a newbie or an old head to fly fishing there is one thing that will always be a constant; fly fishing costs money. Unless you really pay a lot of attention to finances, fly fishing will not seem altogether to be an expensive sport at first glance. Besides the initial purchase of a quality fly line, rod, reel and a few other necessities, most of your common purchases that you will have to incur will be flies, leaders, and tippets.

While these items don’t look to be that expensive at the point of purchase, they will in fact cost you a pretty penny over a course of a year. Fortunately, this cost will only happen if you let it happen. In my previous post Flies! Flies! Flies! I went over how you can save a tremendous amount of money by not purchasing flies you will never use and the benefits of tying your own flies. In this post I will help you contend with the rising cost of leaders and tippets.

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Caught on the Roanoke River

For the sake of this argument, let us say on average you fish every weekend during the year. You are using a loop to loop connection for your fly line to your leader and a blood knot for your leader to tippet connection. On average you will go through at least one leader per month using a blood knot connection ($5.00 per leader) and you will go through a roll of tippet line every month and a half ($10.00 per roll). This adds up to an average of $140 that you will spend, per year, fly fishing. However these numbers can go up and down depending on the type of leaders and tippets you use. Unfortunately there is no way of getting around the fact that you will need both a leader and a tippet in order to fly fish.

So, if you absolutely have to have a leader and tippet to fly fish; what can you do save money? Putting it simply, you need to forget using traditional knots (i.e. blood knots) to connect your leader to your tippet. First: if you get snagged or hook a fish and it breaks you off, using traditional knots you have a chance that your leader will be what breaks when it happens.  Second: every time you have to replace your whole tippet using traditional knots you will also be losing a portion of leader, eventually this leads to the diameter of the leader being too large and making it unusable.

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Caught on the Roanoke River

Instead of using traditional knots, try using tippet rings or loop to loop connections to connect the leader to the tippet. Tippet rings attach right to the end of your leader, then you attach your tippet straight to them. The down side is that they normally break off on the leader side when you get snagged, and they are very hard to get tied on to both your leader and your tippet. Personally I do not recommend tippet rings. My solution is to use a loop to loop connection with your leader and tippet, like you would use with your fly line and leader. By doing this you will save the life of your leader from constant shortening when changing out tippets. Also it is a very strong knot; when you do get snagged or avfish snaps your line, the break usually happens right at the connection or somewhere on the tippet. Over the past year of using this type of connection I have only had to change out my leaders twice, which using my average cost of leaders has saved me $50.

Now that we have cut a big portion out the leader budget for the year; where can we save money on tippets? This question was very hard for me, I always use a dual nymph rig when fly fishing.   Before I was putting each fly 10-12 inches apart from each other, so if I got snagged I would lose the first fly altogether and enough tippet between flies that I was forced to only use the single nymph. My solution was spacing of the fly; I use at least 16 inches in between nymphs so that if I do get snagged I will still have enough tippet to run the second nymph. Also I force myself to read the waters I am fishing to see if I am justified in running a dual nymph rig. The final thing that will save you money on tippets is a strike indicator. Yes I know, a lot of people do not like this method, but hear me out. When you’re using a strike indicator you are able to adjust the depth of your fly in the water. If you are constantly snagging, adjust your strike indicator down a couple of inches until it is no longer snagging. The nymph will still be on the bottom of the river/creek where trout tend to feed the most, but it will no longer be snagging, which will save you on tippet material. Honestly, for me, doing small changes like these have brought me down to an average of 3 rolls of tippet per year, which is $50 savings in my budget.

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Caught on the Roanoke River (same fish as above)

My only other piece of advice is concerning strike indicators; if you haven’t tried out the New Zealand Strike Indicator system then you should. They are simply a joy to work with, they don’t ruin your leader, they don’t feel bulky while casting, they float like a cork, and one bag of their wool has lasted me over two years now. I will never go back to previous strike indicators because of how well the New Zealand Strike Indicator has worked.

Ending as I have said in my previous posts, ultimately it is up to you. If you are diehard when it comes to your style of fly fishing then stick with it, but if you want to try a way to save money on fly fishing try out these ideas and see if they work for you.

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Caught on Potts Creek

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.