Virginia Fly Fishing

Virginia is bordered by West Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia (across the Potomac River) to the north, by Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, by North Carolina and Tennessee to the south, and by Kentucky and West Virginia to the west. The Chesapeake Bay divides the state, with the eastern portion (called ‘the Eastern Shore of Virginia’), a part of the Delmarva Peninsula, completely separate (an exclave) from the rest of the state.

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Mossy Creek – Located in Augusta County, Mossy Creek is Virginia’s premiere brown trout fishery. Ranging from 8-20 feet across, Mossy is a small limestone stream with slow moving and flat water. Known for its heavy vegetation and excellent but difficult year round fishing, Mossy Creek requires a private landowners’ pass that can be obtained free. Mossy Creek is a nice spring creek that flows north through the Shenandoah Valley and offers world-class fishing for huge brown trout.

Mossy Creek, and nearby Smith Creek, carve their way through some of the most scenic country in the state and offer trout-fishing opportunities second to none. Mennonite farmers, still clinging to their centuries-old customs, own much of the land that these streams flow through and keep a tight grip on access. Some sections are leased by clubs and guides, but a three-mile piece of Mossy is open to the public through a cooperative effort between the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) and landowners. One-and-a-half miles of Smith Creek are open to the public under a similar agreement.

Both streams are stocked annually with fingerling brown trout, but a private fish farm on the upper reaches of Smith Creek sometimes unintentionally adds good-sized rainbows to the mix in that water. On those sections off-limits to the public, clubs and guides stock a mix of browns and rainbows. Don’t be fooled, however. These fish revert to their wild, wary ways soon after they grow accustomed to their new surroundings, and become extremely difficult to catch.

“You can catch fish out of Smith just about all year, but it does slow down in the winter. It has some freestone stream influence,” notes Billy Kingsley, owner of Harrisonburg, Virginia’s Blue Ridge Angler. “Mossy Creek remains good even in the coldest parts of winter. That’s why I think it’s better than Smith. It’s a true spring creek and stays at a constant temperature nearly all year.”

Water temperatures in Mossy fluctuate only about four to six degrees throughout the year. Expect it to range between 52 and 58 degrees. In some sections, aquatic vegetation remains green and vibrant in the harshest part of winter.

Kingsley also prefers Mossy because it is more fertile than Smith, which lies on the other side of the Valley. In other words, of the two, Mossy is Kingsley’s favorite. And thanks to tighter regulations, an angler has a good chance of doing battle with some monster brown trout in Mossy Creek. Five-pounders are common in the sections not open to the public, and biologists, as well as a few anglers, have landed fish up to seven pounds in the public stretch.

Smith Creek, on the other hand, receives less pressure than its sister stream. Kingsley will seek refuge there if crowds become a factor on the public sections of Mossy.

In those private areas open to the public on both streams, anglers are restricted to fly fishing tackle and single-hook, artificial lures only. The limit in Mossy is one fish per day over 20 inches; in Smith Creek, anglers may creel two fish per day over 16 inches. Most anglers, however, release all fish. Clubs and guides who lease parts of Mossy generally restrict their clients or members to fly fishing tackle and enforce a no-kill policy.

Like any spring creek, the summertime vegetation can cause the best angler to chew his fingernails down to the nubs and pull his hair out by the roots. Both shoreline grass and aquatic vegetation are thick. Of course, that’s exactly what makes Mossy Creek so good. The fish have plenty of places to hide and insects are never in short supply. Watercress and elodea make up the bulk of the wet salad. Tall shoreline grass, weeds and crops planted near the water’s edge add to the mix and sometimes make casting a challenge.

Livestock used to be a problem all along its course, but concerned anglers, VDGIF workers and landowners have erected exclusion fences. Now, cows are kept away from the streambanks.

Fly Patterns
Like fish in most other spring creeks, the trout in Mossy Creek are extremely fussy eaters. If it isn’t a near-perfect replica of the insect of the hour, they probably won’t touch it. Hatches are sometimes phenomenal, and the variety is staggering, but a few key patterns, used at the right times, will do the trick.

In early spring (mid-March through April), size 18 blue-winged olive hatches are in steady supply and trout will rise even on the coldest days. Typically, hatches begin in the afternoon, but can occur throughout the day during warmer periods.

“Actually, we have blue-winged olive hatches just about all year long,”noted Kingsley. “They are at their peak in early spring, however.”

Sulphur hatches come on strong in April, with late afternoons and evenings the peak times. Spinner falls occur right before dark and dry-fly fishing is absolutely superb. Skilled anglers can catch one fish right after another during times of high fish activity.

Try size 16 Compara-duns and sulphur duns, and as April fades into May, switch to size 18s. In mid-May, trico hatches begin and at times can blur your vision and cause difficult breathing.

“I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve sucked in a trico or gotten them stuck in my eyes,” said Kingsley. “There are clouds of them up and down the river on calm mornings.”

The hatches are short-lived, though. Be there from about 7:00 to 11:00 A.M. and use either a size-22 or -24 trico. Fortunately, they continue throughout the summer months and into autumn.

As summer approaches, terrestrial action picks up. Thick shoreline grass and weeds produce an abundant supply of crickets, hoppers and beetles. Like any stream, this type of fishing is best on breezy days when insects are knocked into the water. A wide variety of patterns, including Japanese beetles, will work.

The trico hatch continues into mid-October and blue-winged olives make another appearance in October and November.

As the grass dies off and winter takes a firm grip on the region, switch to minnow- and crawfish-imitating patterns in sizes 4 through 8 and concentrate on undercut banks. That’s where the big browns like to hold and ambush passing prey. Zonkers and sculpin patterns also work well during the winter months.

Fishing Access
Anyone can fish the sections of Mossy and Smith Creek that are open to the public, but since they run through private land, anglers must have a written permission slip. They are available from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ office in Verona. Send a request, along with a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Fisheries Division, P. O. Box 996, Verona, VA 24482. Simply ask for permission for both creeks, if you desire to fish them both.

Private sections of both streams are open only to those with landowner permission, which is practically impossible to get. The better areas are leased to guides or clubs.

Shenandoah National Forest Freestone Streams – A number of streams in the Shenandoah National Forest offer excellent winter, spring, and fall fishing. The summer months tend to dry up a number of the streams, however a hike further into the National Forest will usually produce good fishing in the summer months. Hip waders are recommended. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries maintains a habitat restoration and trout stocking program (visit the site for National Park information and Trout Stocking information).

Virginia Fly Fishing Articles
36 Great Fishing Trips in Virginia
By Bruce Ingram
A Guide For Catching More Smallmouth Bass
A Lovely Day Enjoying Mossy Creek
great photos and descriptions of day on Mossy Creek
A Saltwater Bonanza At Hampton
Hampton is rich in history and tourist attractions, but what keeps the saltwater anglers coming back are the trophy fishing opportunities
A Winter Smorgasbord of Virginia Bassing
Power pools on the James and Shenandoah, certain sections of the New below Claytor, the tidal Chickahominy and old favorite Buggs Island are some of the top Virginia wintertime bass spots.
Bill Cochran
Roanoke times column from Virginia outdoor writer
Early Spring Trout Flies And How To Fish Them In The Freestone Streams
Early Summer Potomac Smallmouth
by King Montgomery
Falmouth Flats Fly Fishers
Conservation, Restoration, and Fly Fishing on the Rappahannock River
Far South West Trout Stocking
Trout stocking in far Southwest Virginia
Fly Fish Virginia
“explore fly fishing opportunities in Virginia and learn from those that fish here everyday”; a great site
Fly Fishing for Shad Next-Door
By Colston Newton
Flyfishing for Puppy Drum in the Virginia Beach Inlets
By Cory Routh
Giant rainbows bask in sunny ‘Maggie’
Giant rainbows bask in sunny ‘Maggie’
Is there a stream a hour away from Roanoke where 7- and 8- pound rainbow trout lurk by the thousands?
GORP – Virginia Trout Fishing – Smith River
Hatch Chart for the NC, VA & TN Mountains
Hickories on the Rap
by King Montgomery
Hot Spots for Virginia’s Cold-Weather Bass
Lake Gaston Largemouths
Late Winter at Mossy Creek
a photo journal by Dave Lewis – nice pictures of the creek
Mossy Creek
Mossy Creek is a peaceful little meadow stream that meanders…
Mossy Creek
Mossy Creek
Mossy Creek is a limestone creek with more placid waters than the tumbling mountain freestone streams…
Mossy Creek and Rapidan RIver info
includes interactive map
Mossy Creek Trout
New hope for Smith River trout fishery
North Virginia Regional Parks
Oh Shenandoah
On the Rapidan, knee-deep in history with a dry fly
Our Overlooked Special Regulation Trout
Chances are that if you are a trout addict, you already know the more famous Virginia trout streams, but here are some other destinations that you might want to get to know better.
Potomac Powerhouse: Catching River Stripers
By Mark Fike
Rapidan River
Rifflle and Rise
a website dedicated to fishing in Northern Virginia and Maryland
lots of good info on smallmouth bass fishing, for VA in particular
Seasons of the Chesapeake
America’s largest estuary offers year-round light-tackle angling.
Shenandoah River Smallmouths
Smallmouth Action On The New River
The New River below Claytor Lake Dam offers some of the best smallmouth action in the entire state. And spring is certainly prime time.
Smith Creek
Spring Fishing in Shenandoah National Park
by Harry Murray
Springing for Largemouth
by King Montgomery
Surf-Fishing the Eastern Shore
By Charlie Petrocci
The South RIver
The Start of a New Season
Fishing the Upper James River
Three Great Floats for South Fork of the Shenandoah Smallmouths
From below Shenandoah Dam to the community of Alma, river smallmouth addicts can experience 17 miles of some of the finest brown bass action in the Old Dominion…
Trout stocking in far Southwest Virginia
Trout stocking in northern Shenanadoah Valley
Two Top Spots for Virginia’s Fall Bass
By Bruce Ingram
The top five trout streams in Virginia….
Fly fishing Virginia
Virginia – Back Creek
Virginia Trout Fishing – Back Creek…
Virginia – Jackson River
Virginia Trout Fishing – Jackson River…
Virginia – Mossy Creek
Fly fishing Virginia
Virginia – Rapidan River
Fly fishing Virginia
Virginia – Shenandoah National Park
Blue Ridge Trout – Fishing Shenandoah National Park…
Virginia – Smith River
Virginia Trout Fishing – Smith River…
Virginia – Trout Fishing
Virginia Trout Fishing – Three Tailwater Fisheries…
Virginia – Whitetop Laurel
Fly fishing Virginia
Virginia Dept of Game &Inland Fisheries Area Maps
Virginia Dept of Game and Inland Fisheries
Virginia Nottoway River Bass Fishing
Woody Cover & Nice Bass
Virginia Trout Fishing
Virginia Trout Fishing – Three Tailwater Fisheries…
Virginia Trout Fishing – Jackson River
Virginia Trout Fishing – Jackson River…
Virginia Trout Fishing – Smith River
Virginia Trout Fishing – Smith River…
Virginia Trout Guide
Virginia’s Family Fishing Destinations
By Bruce Ingram
Virginia’s Heritage Trout Streams
By Bruce Ingram
Virginia’s Smallmouth Bass
Nearly every free-flowing river in Virginia has smallmouth bass and some are among the best in the country
Virginia’s Trout Cornucopia
In Virginia you can match your favorite kind of trout angling to a wide variety of lakes, rivers and creeks.
Virginias Best Trout Streams
by David Hart
Whitetop Laurel
Fly fishing Virginia
Whitetop Laurel Creek – The Slot Rapid
Gallery of Whitetop Laurel Creek – The Slot Rapid
Whitetop Laurel Creek News Reports
VDGIF > Fishing > Lakes > Whitetop Laurel Creek > News &Reports
Southern Flyfisher’s Forum

Virginia Fly Fishing Guides
Wild Mountain Trout Fly Fishing and Mountain Guide of Virginia
Fly Fishing in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia for small spring creek Trout or summer Smallmouth Bass on clear rivers.

Virginia Hatch Charts
Mossy Creek hatch chart

Virginia Fly Fishing Reports
Accotink Creek
Elk RIver reports
Mossy Creek report
Murrays FLyshop fishing reports
Potomac River
Shenandoah River
Shenandoah River report
Updated Stream Conditions for Virginia
Updated Fly Fishing Reports on Virginia
Virginia (and Maryland) reports
Virginia fishing reports
Virginia reports
from Mossy Creek Fly Fishing

Virginia Fly Fishing Forums

Tidal Fish- Virginia
Virginia section of Tidal Fish message board
Virginia saltwater

Virginia Fly Fishing Shops

Murrays Fly Shop
PO Box 156, 121 Main St. Edinburg, VA 22824 540-984-4212
Anglers Lane
P O Box 1265, Lynchburg, Virginia 24551-5265 434-385-0200
The Anglers Lie
2165 North Glebe Road, Arlington, Virginia 22207 703-527-2524
Mossy Creek
40 Pine Ridge Lane Mt. Solon, VA 22843 540-350-4828
The Trophy Room, LLC
210 King Street, Alexandria, VA. 22301 703-837-8215
Blue Ridge Angler
1756 South Main Street Harrisonburg, VA 22801 (540) 574-3474
Mountain Sports, Ltd
1021 Commonwealth Avenue, Bristol, VA. 276-466-8988

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