In early September, I was fishing the North Branch and was curious about the Stony River. As you can see from the map, it looks like a major input to the North Branch. Since I am always interested in new water, I decided to wade across the river and head up this section to see what it had to offer.
As a point of reference, the North Branch was running 63 degrees on the day I was there just north of the junction. About 50 yards in, I took a temperature and discovered that the Stony was a hot 68 degrees. According to “How to Catch a Trout Every Time” by Nick Anikijenko, this is at the upper end of the viable range for trout. Not good.
But, I was here, so I slogged on up to see what lay ahead. The flow was pretty good with plenty of water, but the river was generally shallow and did not have many pools or viable between pool runs and rocks that would support anything significant. Between pools, the water ran at about 6 inches to a foot at most. I fished my way up the river and did pick up a few smallies in the 9 to12 inch range using Panther-Martin spinners and Rappala trout colored plugs. No trout action at all, something that did not take me by surprise given the tempurature.
On the plus site, the walking was not too bad although you do need to be careful when moving over the slab type rocks. These have eroded smooth and were very difficult to walk on for me as my boots have cleats. Unless you snag a crack in the rock, every step is a fall waiting to happen. As long as you can wade across the North Branch, you can get around in this section; average physical condition is all that is needed – but do bring a wading staff!
About a 100 yards up to the east, there is a small path that you can use to move quickly up the river. Pretty easy walking on the path, it’s a shame that it does not last longer. In addition to the path, there is the remnant of an old road that slides down the mountain and runs next to the river for a bit. It did not look like anything had been on that road in years.
Pressure: There was no evidence of anyone being up this river. I did not run into any trash. Then again, I did not run into any trout either – so folks may know that this is not the optimum stream for trout and just don’t bother.
Stocking: There was no mention on the West Virginia website that this river is stocked; another indicator that this water has been left to it’s own devices.
Switchfisher’s Bottom Line: Nope. With the great fishing on the North Branch, heading up the Stony is probably a waste of time.
Getting There: It’s a bit confusing. From 560, you need to be alert for White Church Road. Do not turn off on the sign for Potomac State Forest if you are coming in from the North. Once on White Church, be alert for the place where the road takes a hard right on the map below. There is a small, brown sign for State Forest right at the bend. Instead of charging around the bend to the right, slow down and go straight. This puts you onto a small road that turns to gravel. Follow it until you see a large brown forest service sign. It will point you to Wallman on the right and to Laurel Run on the left. Stay right to go to Wallman and head up the hill.
At the next Y intersection, stay right and continue to follow the gravel road. It will start to get rough as you head down the side of the mountain, but you can still get here in a flatland car if you are very careful to dodge the rocks and deep potholes. Be alert for a small turn out to the left; that is the parking area I am calling “Wallman North”. It will hold about 4 cars and overlooks the railroad tracks. Park there, gear up and then walk down the small trail to the tracks that are only 20 yards away. Follow the railbed up about a half mile and you will see where the Stony joins the North Branch.
Junction of the Stony (to the left) with the North Branch
Looking upstream from the junction with the North Branch
On this day, the water was low and revealed the bones of the river. These were very slick rocks!
First interesting pool that I encountered. I did see fish in here, did not catch any, and could not tell what kind they were
The view up river. There is a nice pool on the other side of the big rock at the back of the picture. That pool was as far up as I went.
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore