Last March, I wandered out to “distant” sections of Virginia to expand my understanding of the fishing opportunities. In an earlier post, I commented on the Bullpasture “northern” section and how it was not that great. I had higher hopes for the “gorge” section.
The first challenge in fishing the gorge is to find it. Many of the books say that you should start down in Williamsville and just fish up; walking back down the road at the end of the day. When I did a recon, it was not obvious to me that there was public access in Williamsville, so I continued up the road. After watching “posted” sign after “posted” sign flip by, I came to a very steep section where the signs ended abruptly. I stopped the truck at a small turnout and peered over the edge.
I could see the sparkle of the water down below. Tempting! Being bullheaded – appropriate for the Bullpasture – I decided to just skid down the steep hill – about 100 feet to get to the water. I was willing to trade the opportunity to fish for a tough traverse to get out.
So, I skidded away. At the bottom, I discovered a dirt road! What the heck? As I panted from the exertion of trying to avoid death on the way down, I looked back up the road and saw that it went back up to a gate. I resolved to use it to get back out as it was a nice gentle rise and I would beg forgiveness if it passed over private property. Once that was settled, I turned my attention to the pool in front of me. If there is a more picture perfect pool, I have not come across it.
This pool was easily 50 feet across and fed by a small waterfall at the top. The deep green-blue of the water shone in the late morning sun. Everything was in motion. The current moved quickly, pushing flecks of white foam downstream and creating obvious seams that would hold trout. Anxiously, I rigged up.
I was using the convertable fly/spin rod that I discussed earlier. This was the test of the fly option. While it was usable in that mode, it was hardly good enough to rely on for any serious fishing. I rate it as a no-go. In fact, it was so bad that I would have gone back up to the truck for a real rod, but I did not have the energy to face the hill twice in the same day.
As you can see from the pictures, it was a mixed day of clouds and sun. I worked the pool until I realized it was exceptionally deep and that I did not have a sink tip with me. Since nothing was moving on top, I headed upstream where I encountered a nice, nice run of water.
The river is fairly broad with plenty of rocks guarding deep cuts. I immediately started to pick up some rock bass on wooly buggers and the Patuxent Special. When I switched to a copper john with a pheasant tail dropper, I even caught a few trout. This was sweet! The farther up I waded, the better it got.
I worked upstream until it was time to close shop to move to the next spot on my March tour. I climbed back to the dirt road and walked up to the main drag. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it hit the main road started outside of the posted area. So, it was a legal entrance.
Bottom Line: Nice spot. I know the Bullpasture gets more than its share of pressure, but I doubt many folks do the climb to get down into the gorge. In addition, it is tough walking/wading once you are in – almost as rough as the North Branch. You definitely should take a wading staff.
You should wear chest waders here. Also, the cell phone coverage is pretty spotty in this part of Virginia.
Getting There: Hard to describe. First, mapquest yourself to Williamsville, VA. You can look around for a place to park and public access down there. Maybe you can find it. The Flyfisher’s Guide recommends you park at the large area at the head of the gorge, walk down and then fish up. I did that in the other post and was closed out by private property on the western bank.
So, look carefully at the map above. If you drive out of the town going west, look for where the posted signs run out. Right where that occurs, there is one last home on your right, a very small entrance that looks like a driveway (also on your right) and a large, gated driveway/road to your left. That small driveway looking thing is the road I refer to. You can probably pull down in there, but if somebody comes in behind you, you will be blocked in as there is no place to turn at the bottom.
The alternative is to drive to the next turnoff and then walk back. As near as I can measure it from the map, this small road is at 38-12-1N / 79-34-26W
Secrets Revealed? No. This is a very public location that is documented in the following places:
Plenty of good rocks in the gorge section
Looking upstream – cliffs on the left, plenty of good water
Large, scenic pool at the lower end where I started in
Nice little trout
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore