After fishing the Dan River above the powerhouse in early October, I stopped off at Crooked Creek to see what it was all about. The Crooked Creek fee fishing area extends downstream for quite a distance from the bridge noted on the map and in the picture below. I was absolutely stunned when I pulled into the parking lot. Take a quick glance at the picture below and you will appreciate the size of the parking lot and can extrapolate the crowds that must visit this location when the fee fishing area is active. The parking lot looks as if it could hold over 100 cars. I can’t imagine they would build a lot this big unless that many people regularly showed up. It was empty except for one other car on the day I was here since I visited about two weeks after they stopped doing the daily stocking in this section. I was hopeful that there would still be a few fish available – that hope was not realized.
I pulled my truck to the northeast corner of the massive lot, loaded up my gear and followed the well beaten path to the stream. The first thing you notice when you wade into the stream is the numerous cuts in the underbrush that allow the staggering volumes of people to access the water without bushwhacking. I had visions of shoulder to shoulder fishermen at the height of the summer season all targeting helpless fish in what you can see is a very narrow section of stream. If the stream exceeded 10 feet in width in this particular section, it was a rare occurrence. The water is also fairly shallow, it rarely exceeded 1 foot in depth. The bottom is a mix of sand and small rocks and the riffled sections are deep enough to support fish activity as well. From a fly fisherman’s perspective, you would have to execute technically accurate casts to avoid the overhanging brush that shelters the water. Given the tight nature of the water, I have a hard time envisioning how hundreds of people could fish together without tangling. During the height of the season, this must provide the absolute definition of “shooting fish in a barrel”
I fished my way upstream to the bridge without any luck at all. Apparently, once the crowds go away, the fish do as well. As you can see from the pictures, without hordes of people, this is a nice section of water. The creek bubbles along and the environment gives you that pleasant, contented feeling as the sun beats on your face and you enjoy the high blue skies. The only thing that would’ve made my day better would be to catch a few decent fish.
Bottom line: One look at the parking lot tells you that you should not fish on the middle section during the height of the season. In future posts, I will cover the wild section upstream and take another look at the fee fishing section about a half-mile downstream from this location. Another consideration is to come here during the middle of the week. I’m sure that this water experiences the most intense pressure on the weekends. So if you’re on vacation in the area, it may be worth your while to swing by here to see what it has to offer.
On the positive side, if you are in this area, you are in the middle of what I believe is the best trout fishing area in Virginia. In addition to Crooked Creek, you can go to Big Wilson, Whitetop and a host of other pristine water.
Getting There: Take exit 14 from I77 west on 221 towards Galax. Turn left on 620 (south) and follow it all the way to the fee fishing area. The massive parking lot is about 1/2 mile past the bridge over the creek. There is a concession area there where you can buy your daily pass.
Google Local Coordinates: 36.675923,-80.812597
Secrets Revealed? No. This is a public location that is documented in the following places:
What a MASSIVE parking lot!
Upstream from my entry point – technical casting with all these bushes!
Downstream from entry point
Looking upstream to the bridge
This is the only guy I caught here
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore