Since I was up in the Jackson area, I decided to fish Muddy Run on my way back to the truck. After experiencing the wonders of the wide open Jackson Special Regulation Section all day, hitting the tiny, tough Muddy was a shock.
Uncharacteristically, the Flyfisher’s Guide to Virginia was silent on whether this was a good stream. It did comment that it is tough at the top and that you can get more rainbows down near the Jackson. I’m here to tell you that it is tough at the bottom as well.
I guess I should not have been surprised given our dry summer, but I was. The mouth of the Muddy was about as dry as it could get. Just look at the picture below of where it runs underneath the bridge. As I worked my way up the stream, I don’t really remember any movement in the pools – so, by the end of September, our drought had basically turned this into a stagnant, thin strip of water.
The first thing to note about the Muddy is that it is tough, technical fishing. It’s close and covered with trees that laughed at my attempts to flick some small dry flies in the tight environment using the same 9 foot rod that had proved so capable on the Jackson. I did notice that there was a semi-improved campsite on the right bank of the stream about a 100 yards up from the bridge. I don’t know if camping is permitted back in here, but it looks like folks have done it before. It would be a great spot to launch from for an early morning assault on the special regulation section.
I continued to walk up the stream in search of any fishable water. I found the one “decent” pool shown in the picture below and picked off a trout out of it. There were several at home and they fought over my Mr. Rapidan. As I worked up the stream, the water got skinnier and tighter; eventually driving me to my hands and knees. Once the trees wrapped themselves over the stream and forced me into a sad imitation of a low crawl, I decided that there was a beer or two back at the truck that needed company.
When I bailed out of the stream, I headed south at an angle to avoid walking all the way back to the bridge. I was delighted to find an improved, wide trail that swept me back to the main trail from the parking lot. For those who want to walk directly to Muddy Run, take that trail (it will go to the right) from the main trail and walk until you can see the stream way off to the side. This will cut out having to slog your way up the unproductive, shallow section down by the bridge.
I fished up Muddy for about 0.75 miles – it may be better up top, but, with the Jackson right here, I would not bother.
Bottom line: This is hard, nasty water. I’m sure there will be fish that survive in here and more that will swim up from the Jackson in the spring when the water returns. However, why bother unless you are a purist and love the difficulty of the hunt more than the thrill of the bigger fish down below? I will not take the time to work the Muddy when I go back to the Jackson next season.
Getting There: Mapquest yourself to Warm Springs and head west on Route 39. There is a sign directing you to the Hidden Valley section (Rt 621). Turn right and follow 621 a mile or so to the next Forest Service sign that points you to the left. Go past the campground and continue on the road. It leads to the parking area. If you cross the river, you have gone too far. The parking area is well marked. The trail to the special reg section is at the far end of the parking lot – you will walk with the river on your left. Follow the trail and take the turn to Muddy Run.. or walk on to the first bridge and then start fishing up the stream.
Bridge over Muddy Run – not much here at the end of a dry summer
A little bit up the stream and the water appeared. There is probably a very gentle flow from various springs, but the water was hardly moving on the day I was here.
This was the only pool I could really work with my 9 foot, 6wt. There were some guys swmming around in here and I succeeded in not spooking them.
Nice little trout caught and released back into the pool
This is crawl and sneak country. I’m trying to work the fly back under a really tough mess of trees
Now, this is rough country!
Some of the pools are microscopic and just do not look like they provide a healthy environment in low water!
Here’s the trail as you will see it when you come out of Muddy Run. Head to the right to get back to the trail to the parking lot
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore