Trout Hike – Jackson River (Gathright Dam)

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Articles on this site are out of date since some go back to 2006. Regulations and property ownership may have changed since publication. It is your responsibility to know and obey all regulations and not trespass on private property.

The Flyfisher’s Guide to Virginia asserts that the section below the dam is “an excellent section of no-hassle water”.  But, the state eased all restrictions on this section and stopped stocking it years ago.  What attracted me to the stretch was the additional comment that “much of this section is accessible by foot travel only”.

Well, the truth is that it looks like the King’s Grant crowd has grown their way towards the dam – compressing the water open to the public into a very small space.  On top of that, the little bit of water that is available is very close to the road.  Check out the map to the right.  You can see the straight line (that’s the path my truck took on the road) and then the start of the wavy line (that’s where I walked).  The wavy line is barely 1/8th of a mile.  The total line shown is only 1/2 mile.  So, the 3/4 mile of good water promised in the Flyfisher’s Guide has evaporated into the King’s Grant since publication.

This is a tragic shame.  As you can see from the pictures below, it looks great!  It begs for a long day of working up or down the river on foot or in a canoe.  Instead, you need to worry about getting shot!  When I was asking for advice on this section in September, I was told that only a few weeks before a landowner had taken shots at some canoeists and that such encounters were pretty common.

A firefight over a fish?  Geez, get a life.  I certainly did not want to mistakenly stumble into a private area – whether it was a legal King’s Grant portion or not – and get blasted.  I was concerned enough by that story that I packed my .45 with me when I fished anywhere in this county during my September trip.  It certainly looks like the greed that has gripped the Jackson is spreading elsewhere in Bath County.  I ran into it again over on the Gorge section of Back Creek when I dead ended into more private property right in the middle of the National Forest. 

The Gathright section of the Jackson was not worth the morning’s diversion to get here.  I only worked it for an hour, had no hits and saw no fish and concluded that it was a dead zone.  The only reason I spent an hour there was because I had taken the time to drive over, but this stretch is not even worth that small amount of time. 

The flat water section, in particular, should draw plenty of folks for the easy fishing from the banks and, without the stocking program to replenish the water, I’m sure there is not much left there. 

If there are fish here, they are probably very well educated and were smart enough to defeat my attempts to make a catch…

Bottom Line:  What a waste of time.  Obey the law, do not trespass.  Do not even go there. The bottom two pictures show the entire stretch of the foot traffic portion of the river

Getting There: I’ve posted over a 200 articles to this blog and never failed to tell people exactly how to get to the water I fished.  This is so bad, and is so not worth it, I’m going to deviate from that tradition and not provide directions. 

Looking downstream at the end of the public section.  You can see the signs on either side of the river that proclaim the start of the King’s Grant

You cannot miss the signs for the King’s Grant.

Even the short stretch that is public looks nice.  This is looking upstream from the King’s Grant section

Shot at the corner of the flat water below the dam – you can see the flat water at the top of the picture.

Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore

Disclaimer and Warning:  The contents of this site reflect the opinion of the author and you, the reader, must exercise care in the use and interpretation of this information.  Fishing is a dangerous sport.  You can slip and fall on rocks and sustain severe injury.  You can drown.  You can get hooks caught in your skin, face, eyes or other sensitive places.  All sorts of bad things can happen to you when to go into the woods to visit the places documented here.  Forests, streams and lakes are wild areas and any number of bad things can happen.  You must make your own judgment in terms of acceptable behavior and risk and not rely on anything posted here.  I disclaim all liability and responsibility for any actions you take as a result of reading the articles on this site.  If you do not agree with this, you should not read anything posted on this site.

Disclaimer and Warning:  The contents of this site reflect the opinion of the author and you, the reader, must exercise care in the use and interpretation of this information.  Fishing is a dangerous sport.  You can slip and fall on rocks and sustain severe injury.  You can drown.  You can get hooks caught in your skin, face, eyes or other sensitive places.  All sorts of bad things can happen to you when to go into the woods to visit the places documented here.  Forests, streams and lakes are wild areas and any number of bad things can happen.  You must make your own judgment in terms of acceptable behavior and risk and not rely on anything posted here.  I disclaim all liability and responsibility for any actions you take as a result of reading the articles on this site.  If you do not agree with this, you should not read anything posted on this site.

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