A few weeks ago, Virginia stocked the Sugar Hollow Reservoir with trout, so it’s appropriate that I share some thoughts based on my trip in mid-June. I was actually up in the area to fish the Moormans River which flows out Sugar Hollow and ended up in Sugar Hollow as a second choice. The Moormans has a section that is managed by the local Trout Unlimited chapter during the season. As I mentioned in my post on the Moormans, it is important to be there during the season before the river dries up and gets too warm. On the other hand, Sugar Hollow is good all year round.
I am a little perplexed why Virginia would dump trout into this body of water. Granted, it’s big, deep and probably stays cold enough to maintain the trout population during the hot summer months. However, the restrictions associated with fishing this water make it a challenge. When you look at the map, you would assume that this would be perfect for a canoe — electric motors only. Unfortunately, no boats of any kind are allowed. That forces the fisherman to rely on fishing from the bank. Unless you have superhuman casting ability, the result of this restriction is that the entire body of water beyond 20 yards off the bank is unfished and untouched. Now that is frustrating!
There’s a parking area at the dam with turnoffs spread throughout the length along the northern bank. There is no way to drive a vehicle to the southern bank. If you look at the map, you see a dirt track extending down and paralleling the Moormans River. This road is blocked by a gate where the river enters the reservoir. Be alert for the stocking notice on the Moormans – I think this is the access road the VDGIF uses to reload that water. You can park in a small turnoff at the river or in a larger parking area about 50 yards back up the road.
The north bank is fairly open near the shoreline and is where most of the people who visit this reservoir fish. Although I’ve been told there is a trail of sorts around the southern bank, it features some high cliffs in the western part which probably limits access. But don’t take my word for that because I did not personally try it.
I parked just past the gauging station on the Moormans River and was surprised to see that there was still some water here given the trickle I saw down below in the TU section. I took a few fly flips and some very small fallfish attacked the dry fly with abandon. After playing with them for awhile, I walked down the river towards the reservoir and saw that the water disappears into the ground just short of the lake. There was a small amount of flow, so I assume it just goes into a sinkhole instead of staying on the surface. As you can see from the track, I waded around the banks and found a number of long, shallow fingers stretching into the reservoir. You can walk out about 20 or 30 yards on these and fish the drop-offs that are to either side. Of course, I worked those pretty hard and was rewarded with a couple fish for my effort. Once I finished with those, I turned my attention to the shoreline and caught one bass and a bunch of bluegills.
So, even though you are confined to the bank, you may be able to find ways to get away from the shore by leveraging those shallow peninsulas. On an earlier trip, I poked around the northern bank about 100 yards upstream of the dam and there are deep holes right off the bank that hold plenty of panfish. I used small spinners at the time and had fairly constant action if I was patient enough to allow the spinner to sink to the bottom. Given the challenge of the bank, this might be a place where bait is the most appropriate technique to use.
The vegetation is close along the banks and that makes it tough to use flies given the limited room for backcasts. I know my roll cast is not good enough to get very far from the bank. Besides, since the lake appears to get fairly deep fairly quickly, the short amount of fly line expelled into the lake on a poorly executed roll would limit the retrieve — or least that’s the way it seems to me only two years into fly fishing.
Bottom Line: I don’t regard Sugar Hollow as a primary destination location since there is better trout fishing in season just up the road in the Blue Ridge or in the Rivanna River for smallmouth during the summer. However, if you can get to them, there are probably monster bass cruising around simply because most of the lake cannot be fished.
This looks like a great place to take the family, perch on the bank and get a kid addicted to fishing. There’s nothing like the constant action provided by panfish to spur interest and excitement in a little guy or gal. At some point in the future, I intend to come back here and walk the perimeter of the lake, particularly the southern bank, to see what gives. I suspect that the southern bank is less pressured and may be the most productive part of the lake.
Use spin gear here.
Getting There: Locate White Hall, VA on the map. This is at the intersection of Garth Road (614), Brown’s Gap Turnpike (810), White Hall Road (789) and Sugar Hollow Road (614). In White Hall, get on Sugar Hollow Road and follow it to the dam.
If you are driving to White Hall on Garth Road, be alert as Garth morphs into Brown’s Gap as you take the right hand fork. Be on the lookout for a small store at the Y in the road. After stopping there to get a soda or a snack, follow the road to the left – it is Sugar Hollow.
Google Local Coordinates: 38.136447,-78.737984
Secrets Revealed? No. This is a public location that is documented in the following places:
Downstream from the parking area
Upstream from the parking
Moormans dries up – this was mid-June
Looking east from the top of the lake
Not the shallow shelves running out from the bank
Plenty of good structure along the bank – nice for fish, bad for fly casting. You can see another shelf in mid-picture.
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore