South Fork Shenandoah
George Washington Forest Landing, (09/19/2009)
Submitted by: Dr. Patrick Taylor
In search of Smallies, I headed up toward the Fosters and George Washington access points. Fosters has a well defined parking area and easy access. Looking at google maps I could see striations of rock up and downstream. What you can’t always get a sense of is the depth and speed. The flow at Fosters is relatively quick, good for working a fly, however depth-wise it is relatively shallow. I fished down for about two hours until I came to a deep stretch. Plenty of small Smallies, lots of good sized Sunfish and Chubb/Fall fish.
The deep stretch is a carpet of weed/grass and yielded plenty of Sunfish but I decided I would head upstream and try the rapids above the entry point rather than wade through the slack stretch until it meets fast water again. However, upon fishing the upstream area, I found it was shallow and difficult to fish.
I doubt I’d fish Fosters again, however, there are the remains of an Indian fish trap – so you can go and check some history out at the same time as casting a line!
I moved up to the George Washington access. The river here is much better. Again, there is parking and easy access. A note of warning for wading here – it’s difficult – not deep as such but very rocky and uneven. A wading staff or felt soles is a must.
Fishing here was good. The immediate downstream area looks good but I would suggest moving quickly down about 100-200 yards – then there are two stretches that are fantastic – good wide and deep channels. Also, on the South bank, there was very productive fishing in the shallower shaded areas.
I didn’t get any big fish but I picked up a few nice Smallies – no bigger than 10-11 inches. I also spent about 30 minutes trying to tempt some carp at the tail end of the first stretch – but to no avail. This is definitely somewhere I would fish again.
In terms of fly selection, I haven’t had much luck with top-water presentations – but seemed to do well on Muddler Minnow patterns/Wolly Buggers with flash.
A final note is to say that although both these places look sparsely populated, there are plenty of holiday houses/camp sites dotted around. So I think it sees some reasonable pressure. Also, there is a commercial boating outfit in the middle – so when a party of 20 people come down, it can disturb the pools for a good while.
Fosters Access: 38.769945,-78.423232
George Washington Forest Access: 38.749105,-78.436772
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore