The Maury is the perfect river for folks like myself – those who “switch fish” and are just as happy after bass as they are in pursuit of trout. Now, up front disclosure, the Maury is not prime water for either species. In fact, the VDGIF says that “The Maury River does not enjoy a reputation for its fishing”. If a reputation is built on the size of the fish caught, this is true. My experience confirms this, but… it’s just such a nice spot and it offered up plenty of small fish action.
The Maury is home to smallies, rock bass, fallfish, bluegills and, for a brief period in the spring, trout. It’s rated a category “A” water by the VDGIF which means that it gets repeated stockings of trout in the spring. Unfortunately, the water gets too warm in the summer and most of the trout will die off – so feel free to catch and keep on this stretch. While the smallies are more prevalent in the flatwater section below the Goshen Pass “Devil’s Kitchen” whitewater area, I decided to wade fish the whitewater stretch in late September because it just looked so good.
After doing a drive by recon of the section, I parked at a pulloff to the south of the major scenic pulloff – at the first place if could find where you can clamber down to the river. The wading, even at low water, is pretty sporty as a result of the slick rocks and very deep cuts. You need to be careful where you step or you will end up taking a swim. This is a good section for a wading staff.
I worked my way upstream to the picnic area at the mouth of Laurel Run. This is easy fishing along this 1.25 mile section. There are no overhanging branches to grab your fly and the bottom of the river is forgiving to streamers that are dredged low to get the big guys. There are so many good looking spots to fish that you can spend a long day working this section – it’s hole after hole after hole.
Now, being right next to the road, it gets hammered in terms of pressure. In 2005, I drove by here on a Saturday in the middle of summer and every pulloff had as many cars as would fit and the rocks were covered with sunbathers and the holes full of swimmers. They all disappear when school starts in the fall, and by late September, this place is pretty much a dead zone – especially during the week.
Most swimmers are not fishermen, so if they stray from the sunbathing rocks, they will not add to the pressure. However, this section of the river is so close to several major population centers, that it sees more than its fair share of fishermen.
The typical evidence of pressure abounds – there are bait containers, beer cans and other garbage along the side of the stream, but this ends as soon as you wade away from the easy access points. My conclusion is that the pressure drops off as soon as you have to get wet up to your waist.
On my trip, I worked the holes using streamers and terrestrial patterns and had a great time catching monster bluegills, rock bass and a few smallies. I did not catch anything worth bragging about, but the action was constant and fun. To a new fly guy, this section was a great opportunity to practice technical casting with small pocket water holes where the rapids jerked right and left was well as doing double hauls on the big pools.
In hindsight, I wish I had put on my sinking line to really dredge the bottom of the deeper pools, but I was getting enough fun on the floating line, that I just left it on.
In the Flyfisher’s Guide to Virginia, Hart does not spend much time addressing the Maury – which is a shame since it is so scenic and does offer a variety of different types of fish. Of note to those who hunt the natives, Laurel Run and Guys Run both dump into the Maury. I’ll post a review of Laurel in the future – I took some time to do a quick scout of it while I was here.
Bottom Line: Once spring rush of heavy water produced by the winter runoff and spring rains is done and the kayakers are gone, the Maury is a destination that should be on your list. If you are looking for trout, watch the stocking reports to find the best time to hit this. I imagine the trout get cleaned out pretty fast by the folks in Lexington, so plan a trip within the first two or three weeks after a stocking.
From the smallmouth perspective, this is good anytime. You should fish the pass section just to enjoy such a scenic place. On a future trip, I want to try and wade fish the river where it comes out of the pass. A word of caution, the wading is tricky, but most folks in good shape will be able to do just fine. Fishing this section is complicated by the fact that once you go into the river, you will be there for a while unless you work your way back downstream to your truck. The banks are very steep and offer very few exit points – so judge your time and physical capability carefully before you enter the river.
Getting There: Simple. Mapquest yourself to Rockbridge Baths, VA and then just follow Route 39 to the west. It will run next to the river and take you by both Guys and Laurel Runs as well
Morning on the Maury
There are deep holes to the right and left. Note the tourist scenic overlook at the middle left of the picture. This sits at the top of a very steep cliff.
The deep pools are numerous and share the river with great pocket water hidden behind all the boulders
This was the deepest pool on the stretch I fished. it is just upriver from the tourist overlook
Rough walking in sections!
Looking down at the river from the overlook.
These were the only two other folks I saw while I was there. I believe this is the typical fisherman on this river.
They bring a cooler and some bait and enjoy a nice afternoon in the sun.
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore