“The Roaring Run trophy trout section was established in 1999. The 1 mile section is located in the Jefferson National Forest between the third foot bridge upstream of the Roaring Run Furnace Day Use Area and the Botetourt County line. …The trophy section runs through a very steep gorge that has an abundance of deep pools, which are supplied with cold water from a large limestone spring. …. Three-year classes of trout have been established in the stream and fish up to 16 inches are available for anglers.”
– VDGIF Description of Roaring Run
I don’t think so…
I was excited to read this on the web site and added a visit to Roaring Run to my September expedition. The trophy section runs from where the road enters the map on the right on down through my red line about a half mile. In other words, I visited 1/2 of the trophy section on my trout hike – the portion farthest from the road and the picnic area..
After working other water earlier in the day, I ran down to Roaring Run for the late afternoon action; arriving at this park around 4:00 PM. It is pretty easy to find and the entrance is well marked with a National Park Service sign:
After making the turn, a gravel road leads to the developed picnic area and historic site. From the parking lot, it’s easy to find the trail takes you right to the stream. Now, here’s the first red flag. The trail is very, very well developed with bridges and steps to assist you over the really steep portions. But, having had experience in the SNP where most of the visitors are hikers, I pressed on. The first sight of the water was very disappointing…. how were trophy trout going to grow in water this skinny? But, I was here, so I pressed on, walking up the meandering path and appreciating the improved steps where it got steep. This is clearly a tourist attraction!
No trophies yet…
As I walked farther up, the stream got a little bit better and broke out into a stretch that had some nice pools and waterfalls.
I worked the pools with dries and nymphs with no results. I kept pressing on, hoping it would get into bigger water the farther up I went. While I did run into some more small waterfalls, I did not run into any fish. Not a trophy in sight!
The stream is really just a series of pools separated by a hard uphill walk. Given that any fisherman coming to this water would naturally concentrate on the pools since the skinny water in between them would not hold anything substantial, I concluded that this was fished pretty clean by September in spite of the special regulations.
I should have taken warning from what Harry Stone wrote in his book, Virginia Trout Streams,
“Be prepared for heavy fishing traffic on Roaring Run, since despite its unspoiled appearance, the stream is paralleled by a well-maintained gravel road. It is close to population centers, and its reputation as a trout-producer is well known…”
The comment about the gravel road only applies to the lower section. Once you hit the parking lot, the road ends and you have to walk up the steep trail. The comment on pressure, sadly, applies to the entire stream. The only positive comment is that Harry bemoaned the powerbait containers and other legacy trash from the jerks who just don’t seem to care. I saw no evidence of that. Now, that could be either because there is nothing left to catch here or the local TU / Forest Service does a heroic job of maintaining the stream.
Harry’s perspective was reinforced by a post drbrooks over on www.vaflyfish.com.
Remember to refer to my rating explanations – these are based on what I look for – so RED for Physical Fitness translates to easy physically – you do not need to be in shape to fish this section. I prefer terrain that is tough to get into and out of.
“I was unpleasantly surprised on my trip to Roaring Run on Saturday (1/20/07). I fished the special regulation section all the way up to the private property mark above the falls. I saw very little evidence of fish.”
Why the dead zone?
VDGIF includes Roaring Run in its fingerling stocking program. Under that program, they stock small fish, 5 to 6 inches, in water that has the capability to support and grow trout year round. Theoretically, these are sub-catchable; who would want to keep a fish this size? Apparently, there must be folks who will as I saw no evidence of anything on my walk. Usually, when I stumble up to a pool, I can see some fish skittering away. Nuttin’
No trophies, no fingerlings, no fish.
This is sad. All I could think to myself was that I was considering coming down to this water in the early spring based on the lure of trophy trout on a day trip from Northern Virginia. It would have been a 4 hour trip each way. Given that this stream only gave me 2 hours of “fishing”, that would have been a waste. The 2 hours included the walk up and out – remember – since the only fishable water was the pools, you can cover this stream fairly quickly.
Bottom Line: Even following the stock truck by a few weeks will not do you any good here as only fingerlings are stocked. Unless you want to visit the historical site and have a nice walk in the woods, don’t bother.
Rating comments: While I did not see anyone else on the Monday September afternoon I was there, this place must be hammered. Since I did not see any trout, I’m guessing that the pressure exists. If you believe the trophy discussion, there should be fish up to 16″ in here. Again, unless they are hugging the bottom of the deeper pools out of sight, no evidence (Granted, that’s where they would be). The trail is steep, so it is best left to folks who are in shape. If you have trouble getting up stairs, either take your time or fish the lower section by the gravel road. The total vertical gain was 396 feet on the route I took; 2 miles total.
Getting There: Navigate to Clifton Forge. From Clifton Forge, go south on 696 (Rich Patch Road). It will dead end into 621 (Roaring Run Road). Turn left. Follow 621 for a few miles until you see the sign marking the entrance to the park. Turn left and go to the end. The trail is through the picnic area.
Looking upstream from the first bridge. Pretty disappointing start
It gets better – pretty scenic, but still very skinny between the falls.
There are pools – this is where the fish would be
These pools look deep – the water has the Roaring Run unique green color year round, so it is hard to tell. I set my nymphs to drag the bottom – no luck
You can see the milky green color better in this shot
Another nice set of waterfalls.
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore