After the long drive out to WV with a side trip to the Jackson and Second Creek, I still had the itch for new water. When I checked into the Four Seasons Motor Lodge in Richwood, West Virginia, I had about an hour and a half of daylight left and knew that I was close to the North Fork of the Cherry River. The friendly clerk was happy to provide directions and I was pleased to discover that the river was just up the road. A quick five minute drive from the motel, put me into the parking lot on the north side of the bridge. It’s clearly marked with a large sign that denotes the start of the catch and release area that extends downstream from the bridge. The river upstream from the bridge (across the street) is managed under normal put and take regulations.
I noticed that there was a unimproved grassy road that paralleled the river leading into the woods from the parking area. Since I was uncomfortable leaving the truck on the side of the road, I bumped down the road for about 50 yards to find a small turnoff that would hold the truck. From there, I walked over and looked at the North Fork.
The trail ends at a steep embankment that overlooks a pristine small stream. The stream looked clean, clear and fast. Even though we were only minutes out of town, I felt like I was at the edge of a mountain stream in the middle of nowhere. Looking downstream, the river careened around a corner into a deep, quickly moving pool. That looked like a great spot — especially since I only had a limited amount of time to fish before night dropped on top of me.
I climbed down the embankment, snuck over to the pool and started to work it with nymphs. I tied on a copper john with a hares ear dropper and skidded them up and down the pool with no results. I moved bit farther downstream to another good looking spot just below the bend and tried it again. No joy. Disappointed that the nymphs had not worked out, I switched to an Adams and started to flip it into the water as I moved slowly back upstream. Much to my surprise, I got a number of hits and pulled in two nice sized trout.
Encouraged by my success, I noticed another deep spot underneath the bridge. Moving as quickly as I could across the boulder field that formed the streambed, I was surrounded by a hatch burst out of nowhere. The bugs looked pretty much like the Adams pattern I was using so I stuck with it and was rewarded with another nice trout pulled from a deep spot next to a bridge pylon As luck would have it, a tree tangled my line right after I caught that fish. Without much time as the dusk gathered, I cut the line and tied the fly onto the remaining stub hoping that the fish would be dumb and not mind a fly drifting awkwardly at the end of what had to be the equivalent of 3X tippet. Well, the WV fish are smarter than that and the stiffly moving fly attracted no attention. I could see how unnatural it drifted compared to the other insects being swept downstream by the vagaries of the fast current. Satisfied that I’ve had some good luck on a last-minute fishing excursion, I called it a day and walk back to the truck.
Bottom Line: This is well worth another trip. As I looked downstream from where I turned to come back up to the bridge, it looked like the river transitions through a very sharp drop and I can only imagine the deep, still, plunge pools that lay downstream. Upstream looked just as good. In fact, it looked like the Rapidan in the Shenandoah. The river’s proximity to the populated town of Richwood did not seem to impact the fishing at all since I caught several trout within 50 yards of the road. This implies that folks pay attention to the catch and release regulations on that part of the stream.
Getting There: From I64, turn onto US-60 towards Callaghan (exit 10). US 60 merges with SR 20 in Chamco – go north on SR 20. Follow SR 20 to Fenwick and turn right onto SR 39 / SR 55 and follow that to Richwood. Continue thru Richwood, go past the Four Seasons Motel and continue until you go across a bridge. You will see the large parking area to the right after you go across the bridge marked by a sign for the C&R area. Park and fish!
Google Local Coordinates: 38.254257,-80.511589
Secrets Revealed? No. This is a very public location that is documented on the West Virginia DNR site in addition to the Fly Fishing Virginia.
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Date Fished: 10/12/2009
Upstream from the entry point
Downstream from the entry – the embankment is on the left
View back to the bridge
Embankment from across the stream
Another look down the stream
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore