The parking area for the middle access point is a little bit smaller than the southern access point, but the walk to the river is equally strenuous. The trail starts behind the kiosk on the left side and is deceptive in its early stages. It goes along a gentle downward sloping ridgeline until it reaches the first turn where it takes a sharp pitch into the valley where you can hear the river roaring below.
0.4 miles and 207 feet later, you are standing next to a pristine cliff bordered pool on the Pedlar. The river tightens up and runs fast compared to downstream. It’s 4 to 5 feet deep except on the western fringe where it is wadeable. The initial deep pools break into a gravel riffle approximately 40 yards upstream from the entry and that sets the pattern for what will follow. Pool, riffle, pool…and these pools, are really “pools” with medium sized boulders huddled beneath the surface providing interest.
Given the depth and velocity water, I began my attack with nymphs. I initially threw at the fast seam on the western side of the main current. No action. As I walked up the river, I noticed small submarine shaped objects skittering out of my way; moving from the shallows to the deeper water. The fish were out of the main rush of the current — even out of the seam — and holding in the slower paced water near the shoreline. I readjusted the vector of my attack and began flipping the nymph five feet from the shore. There were enough trout in the river that I could sight fish for them (I later discovered that the river had just been stocked).
I felt like it was high noon — standing off with the trout and seeing who would fall victim first. Initially, it was me, as I had no success until I put on a prince nymph. Gently flipping it at the edge of the current, I noticed a nice size trout dart and strike. Of course, in my excitement and with the overloaded visual stimulus, I tried to set the hook to early and missed him. No problem, there were others in the river.
I continued to move upstream and eventually did catch one stocked trout, but generally it was a very dry day. I was amazed at the scenic structure of the river. Cliffs were the prominent terrain future with the old road (39E) being the main avenue of attack that allowed rapid movement along the stream bed. In fact, I recommend you walk north on the old road until you are out of the beaten zone where the trail joins a river. It’s just as good-looking upstream as it was at the junction. The cliffs continue, the water is fast and deep, and there are fish — even though I didn’t catch them, I saw them.
The only negative on this particular location is the prospect of the walk back out. Be sure you bring water because you’ll need it as you make the long pull out at the end of the day.
Bottom Line: Another great spot. It’s hard to believe this is within 25 minutes of Buena Vista. It has an extremely remote feeling since you are surrounded by tall trees, blue sky and chirping birds. No bears in evidence — and that’s a good thing — but I know they were probably watching me as I made my notes.
Getting There: Follow Route 60 from Lexington over the mountains and into the valley. Turn right on Panther Falls Road. It will turn into FR 315 (do not turn off to Panther Falls). It will turn into Reservoir Road towards the dam. Stay on Reservoir until you see the third sign for the delayed harvest area
Google Local Coordinates: 37.659125,-79.275112
Secrets Revealed? No. This is a very public location that is documented in the following places:
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Date Fished: 04/06/2010
Upstream from entry point
Downstream from entry point
River widens but stays deep
Deeper holes at the bend
Unproductive riffle section
Side stream – I did not investigate
Flats held cuts that sheltered fish
Nice cliff hole
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore