Earlier this year, there was a development that limits access to both Brokenback Run as well as the Hughes River. The upper parking lot above the main Old Rag Mountain lot has been closed. Now, the only place you can park is in the large formal lot that is a significant distance from either of these bodies of water. It’s about a mile walk up a moderate grade to reach the start of fishing on Brokenback Run. Given the distance, there’s no need to go any further to put perceived pressure behind you. I put that philosophy to work as soon as the road reached the stream.
At that spot, the stream is generally shallow with a few small pools collected at the turns and at the base of the larger rocks. The lack of depth concerned me based on what a Park Ranger told me as I walked up to the stream. He indicated that the water had been pretty low all summer and believed that the raccoons have done a good job of cleaning out all the fish. Not something I wanted to hear after walking a mile to reach the trailhead.
Since I was here and since the fish will eventually come back, I continued upstream to fish and recon. The more I followed the stream, the more frequent the fishable fools pools became. I’m glad that I had my Tenkara rod because many of the pools would have been very difficult to fish with traditional fly gear. I was disappointed to see that most of the pools I encountered were barely a foot deep. Doing the summer drought calculus, I assumed those would have been an inch deep in July and August and had only recently filled up.
I began to keep a mental inventory of the places that would have held more water at the height of summer dry spell. These were few and far between in the initial stretch. At approximately a quarter mile in, the stream begins to squeeze into the shallow cut where the mountain slashes downward to create a V-shaped gash between two high ridges.
As the terrain narrowed, the stream compressed to being 5 to 8 feet wide at best. Luckily, it also began to run down a stairstep pattern as the mountain gained more elevation. This created a number of deeper pools that would have held fish during the dry part of the summer. With the gain in elevation, the stream became more and more scenic. If I had had more time I would have gone farther up than the two miles I penetrated… it was starting to look pretty good and I was starting to catch some small brookies.
Bottom Line: This would be a good place to investigate in the Spring. With the higher water that would persist over the Winter, the fish would move out of their community pools and distribute themselves more evenly across the stream; resulting in more action on the entire hike rather than just in the deep pools. Point for the next trip… don’t start fishing at the stream junction. Continue to follow the road for another 1/4 mile and start fishing farther upstream in the good spot.
Getting There: To get to the southern entrance of the Hughes, go south from Sperryville on 231 and turn off on 602 towards Nethers. Continue until you get to the Rag Mountain lot.
Secrets Revealed? No. This is a very public location that is documented in the Virginia VDGIF stocking plan
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Date Fished: 10/29/2010
Start point upstream
Start point downstream
Typical pools – mostly shallow
There is a partial path along some of the stream.
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore