If you are willing to hike in 2 1/2 miles from the trailhead, the wild section of Mills Creek awaits your visit. You can make the trek easier by riding a bike up to the base of the reservoir and then walking around the lake on the narrow trail that hugs the right-hand bank. Your target is the base of the reservoir where Mill Creek runs cold, clear and full as it works tirelessly to fill the lake.
I left the trail early to walk across the damp and muddy southern end of Mill Creek to investigate the junction. The lake runs pretty shallow right there and are realized that I would not be able to cast my fly far enough out to attract any interest. Without a second thought, I turned and began walking upstream. The first thing to note is that the stream bed is totally rocky. There is no sand anywhere in its course; something that has to make it an insect producing factory. The banks are moderate — maybe a foot or two high — that permits easy entry and exit from the stream bed. Unfortunately, the fishing is scarce. The stream bed constantly moves down a gentle gradient that minimizes the number of deep cuts that would hold a decent population of trout. You can fish the random pool, but until you penetrate a couple hundred yards in from the junction, you’ll spend most of your time walking.
On my way back down, I discovered an improved trail running along the east side of the creek. You can actually pick it up at the junction if you walk up the small hill onto the ledge that overlooks the lake. It’s overgrown with trees and has to be all that remains of an old road, but it is still wide enough to permit fast walking without bushwhacking. Since the early part of the creek is uninteresting, I recommend you hop on the trail and follow it until it crosses the creek for the first time. Enter the creek at the crossing and move upstream.
As I walked up the creek and the more I looked around, the more it reminded me of Ramseys Draft. Like Ramseys, it had the same brown and dusty color with the same randomly dispersed structure consisting of fallen trees and huddled boulders. Each of these terrain features causes the water to dig a pool when the flow is strong and the resulting pool provides shelter for the fish. In fact, I quickly learned to ignore flat sections since they routinely did not feature any deep cuts. I made a beeline to the fallen structure or bends in the creek. Fishing was okay and the fish were there. In early April, they were hitting on an Adams with a small black fly dropper.
2 1/2 miles in from the trailhead, the creek splits at a fork. The right-hand fork is skinny water and, after walking up it for 50 yards, I gave up and returned to the junction. When I moved up the left-hand fork, it had good, productive volume. At this point in the creek, the change in elevation produces a greater number of fish holding pools, but the creek was also tighter and more protected. The farther up I went, the more difficult it was to cast. I eventually resorted to positioning myself upstream of any likely spot and drifting a nymph with the current. There was no hope of casting with the tight tree cover. Satisfied that I had fully checked the water out as good as I could today, I started the 2 1/2 mile walk back to the truck.
Bottom Line: This is a good long. walk that can be made easier if you ride your bike up to the reservoir. That distance protects this water from all but the hardy few. if you enjoy fishing small trout water and get a thrill out of catching a wary six-inch brookie, this is the place for you.
Getting There: From I-64, take exit onto S Delphine Ave/Rt- 624 south. Turn left onto Mt Torry Road (Rt 664). Follow 664 to Coal Road. Turn right on Coal Road and follow it for 1.5 miles to the intersection with Mills Creek Trail. Walk up the trail, past the reservoir to where the creek enters.
Google Local Coordinates: 37.948326,-79.005604
Secrets Revealed? No. This is a very public location that is documented in the Virginia VDGIF Area 2 trout stocking map.
Date Fished: 4/5/2010
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Looking upstream from the junction of the creek and the lake
Use this trail to move quickly to better fishing
The initial section is wide and shallow
Farther up, it gets interesting as it careens around some cliffs
Super pool right here
Gradient breaks usually held fish in the deep water at the edge
This was a 2 foot deep section. You can see how the stream is starting to tighten up
Getting tight, but the pools are still here – you can see a good one at the top of this picture
Eventually, the water gets skinny.
Don’t take the right hand fork – this is what it looks like
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore