After my frustration fishing up the west slope of the Blue Ridge in September, I headed back to Harrisonburg to spend the night. Of course, when I drove across the South Fork of the Shenandoah at Island Ford, I took one look at the water and decided to divert from trout to bass.
The parking area is broad and wide with plenty of room to turn a large vehicle around. In late September, the South Fork was at summer lows and was easy to wade; moving upstream from the bridge. This is clearly a popular local spot as there were a number of people clustered around the bank and standing on the bridge pylons fishing the deeper water immediately under the bridge.
I fished away from them, leveraging a long shallow ridgeline that stretched upstream. It gave me a good vantage point to fish into the center where the water ran shallow over a rocky and vegetated bottom. In fact, the ledge allows you to fish in both directions since there is a substantial portion of the river that runs down the left side of the ledge close to the southern bank. There are some deep spots there as well.
Since I did not have much time, I was not able to fish as far upstream as I either wanted or could have. Checking out the satellite view below, you can see additional riffles approximately a quarter mile upstream from the put-in. I stopped just short of those and wished I had had the time to continue.
I don’t know whether this is normally shallow. Last summer, we had low water levels across the State and I may have just hit this location on the right day. However, even if you use a canoe and it is deep, the river looks like it is wide enough, with a calm current that you could fish up and downstream from the put in without having to do a shuttle.
Bottom Line: This is worth a return visit.
Getting There: Take US 340 south from Elkton. Turn right on Island Ford road. Immediately prior to crossing the river, turn left on Captain Yancey Road. The parking area is on the right immediately next to the bridge.
Secrets Revealed? No. This is a very public location that is documented on the Virginia VDGIF website
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Upstream… riffles in the distance
Downstream to the bridge and the access point
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore