After the great experience waiting upstream from the eastern lot, I anxiously anticipated a comparable session on the western section. The parking lot is a little bit farther away from the river and you must walk a hundred yards to reach the bridge. Do not walk across the bridge to access the allowable portion of the northern bank. There are small signs at the driveway stating that angler access is not permitted. Instead, follow the trail on the right-hand side of the bridge down to the river’s edge, wade across and pick up the permitted angler trail at that point.
Another point here is that the map shows another parking area at the end of that driveway. Something must have changed – park at the GPS coords shown below. Update – thanks to John Sites – here is better guidance: “The other parking/access is actually one road up from where you saw the signs for the “no angler access”. There is a very small sign at “Hartman Dairy lane”, take that all the way to where the lane makes a sharp right but continue straight through the nursery trees on a dirt path.”
The first thing to note is that the river is remarkably different than what you experienced in the eastern lot. Here, it is tight, narrow and heavily overgrown with hanging trees that make a long casts impossible. In fact, upon seeing this, I switched to my Tenkara rod and used it as I fished upstream.
Eventually, you reach the bend in the river and this is where the character dramatically changes. The river backs up and forms a large lake with a deep channel in the center. Upstream, the river remains wide and shallow. The angler access trail transitions to being at the edge of the river – away from the top of the bank. As you work your way around the vegetation and some of the muddy sections that make movement challenging, you eventually get up to where the river runs next to a populated area with houses set high above the river. It was at this point that I began to see fish. I worked that section for approximately an hour; moving upstream along the bank (in fact, there is a 900 foot section where only wading is permitted), without any success.
The black woolly bugger that had been so successful in the eastern stretch of the river was ignored by everything swimming. I switched to dry flies in an attempt to match a small hatch that popped. Nothing there either. The special regulations section extends for over a mile from the bridge and I only scratched the surface.
With the pressure of a 2 1/2 hour drive in front of me, I eventually gave up and followed the allowable path back to the bridge. In a desperate attempt to salvage the last half of the day, I flipped my dry fly into the channel that leads into the bridge and was immediately rewarded with a massive hit from a 12 inch brown. So, the day ended on a positive note and gave me plenty to think about on the long drive back home.
Bottom Line: This section is worth further investigation. The fact that the walking is more difficult may indicate a reduction in pressure. Since I was here during the week, I could not assess what this looks like during the weekend and my guess at pressure is based on the visual appearance of the beaten path.
Google Local Coordinates: 38.040639,-78.949451
Secrets Revealed? No. This is a very public location that is documented on the Virginia VDGIF website.
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Tight and narrow near the bridge
No long casts until you hit the bend
The bend where the river backs up
and creates a lake
The south bank is populated
Good spot where I saw plenty of fish
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore