Update: Don’t fish here until the lawsuit is settled. Looks like the “cease and desist” order had no impact. Update!!! AVOID THIS SPOT
It had been a while since I’ve been out of the Jackson River where I commented on my disappointment fishing the river as a result of the Kings Grant challenges. However, since my last visit I was educated on the fact that there are a number of places that you can fish without encountering any problems. In fact, in Fly Fishing Virginia, Beau Beasley comments that the Kings Grant area is only above Johnson Springs; downriver from there, the normal rules apply. So, I was optimistic that I could fish at each of the designated access points documented on the VDGIF website.
The first one I visited with Smith Bridge. The parking
area is wide and broad with two small paths leading to the river directly downstream of the bridge. There is a kiosk with a sign posted addressing the ownership and fishing rights issue. Unfortunately, it’s not that helpful. All it says is that the Jackson has areas where it is not legal for you to fish and that if you are unsure of your access rights, then do not venture into the water. I was confused as to why this sign was at the Smith Bridge since it is a good distance downstream from the King’s Grant nightmare. I did not think much about it and headed to the water. After all, this was a formally designated access point, so it had to be OK.
On the day I was here, the water was a little bit milky, but the river was running at a level that made it easily wadable. I rigged up a nymph and flipped it out into the mainstream of the current; casting it at the dim shadows of the boulders I could see scattered across the bottom. In short order, I started to pick up some small rainbow trout. As I moved around in the river, I noticed some signs posted on the other side. I assumed that they were the standard “no trespassing” signs landowners like to post at the edge of rivers to keep people off their property. However, I knew I was outside of the Kings Grant and that the Jackson was formally designated as a navigable river by both the Army Corps of Engineers and the VDGIF – meaning the public had use of the river below the high water mark.
As I fished my way downstream, I noticed the same landowner signs appeared on the left-hand side. Since I was close to the shore, I waded over to see what they said. I was totally surprised and startled to see that the sign indicated that fishing and wading were not permitted. This can’t be right! This is not the Kings Grant! Not wanting to violate anyone’s property rights and exceptionally frustrated that I had spent 4 hours and a lot of gas to drive here from Northern Virginia, I packed up my stuff, left the water.
Bottom line: This looks like a great spot to fish. The river is exceptionally wide and reasonably shallow; all of which makes for easy wading and casting. The fact that even I was able to catch a couple of trout within yards of the parking lot says that the population here is robust and waiting for our attention.
Getting There: Take exit 16A for US-60W/US-220N from I64. Follow it to the left onto Jackson River Road (Rt 687). Follow Jackson River road for just under 5 miles and turn right onto N. Smith Bridge Road. Follow it to the access point. You will see it in the distance to your right after a half mile or so.
Google Local Coordinates: 37.876649,-79.977036
Secrets Revealed? No. This is a very public location that is documented in the following places:
Date Fished: 10/12/2009
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Looking upstream from the access point.
Downstream from the access point
Here is the offending sign that I read and obeyed on the north bank just downstream from the access point.
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore