While I was successful but also a little bit disappointed after fishing the Passage Creek delayed harvest area, I took the advice of another fly fisherman and drove over to Luray to fish Hawksbill Creek. I knew what I was getting into here — Hawksbill runs through the middle of town. It’s a popular body of water in that it is a category “A” trout stream which means that it is stocked twice in the Fall and six times in the Spring. With the closure of one of the Virginia hatcheries, the number of stockings this year will be reduced, but this place will still get plenty of fish.
It was a short drive from Passage Creek over to Luray and it was not hard to find the water. As I said above, it runs through the center of town. The stocked area starts a little to the north of town in a small park just after Lee Highway and extends through town to just beyond another small park on Route 340. The water was stocked about two weeks before I visited, and there were still plenty of fish available. As I drove into town, I noticed a number of folks fishing in the upstream park with the volume of pressure tailing off the farther downstream I drove. I did not see anyone fishing in the small park at the downstream end of the stocked area. Not having anything to go on, I decided to split the difference and started in the middle. So I turned around and drove north on 340, taking a left onto 211 (W. Main St.), drove across the creek and turned into the parking area associated with a large downtown park.
One of the Luray city park workers was there and I had a good chat with him about the fishing in the area. He was upbeat and positive and complained that he did not have enough time to pursue that hobby as much as he wanted. He wished me luck and headed off to complete his duties. The creek runs right next to the parking area and it is only a hop, skip and a jump to get to the water’s edge.
The creek isn’t very wide at this point. It was running about 20 feet across and fairly shallow. However, as I looked downstream, I could see that it broadened out under the bridge and got very deep. Likewise looking upstream I could see some riffles that spilled out from a broad pool at the bend in the creek. I walked downstream towards the bridge and was startled to see around 10 trout and fallfish finning in the water in about 2 feet of water . Why go anywhere else? I started flipping small flies at the pod and immediately started to catch a few. The fallfish were more aggressive and attacked the Adams pattern I was using with abandon. It was not until I switched to a larger cricket that the trout became active as well. Once that hole was stirred up and sensitive to my presence, I walked underneath the bridge and began fishing there. Immediately, I hooked up with a couple bluegills and I was also surprised to start catching smallies. Within the space of 25 yards, I had caught four species of fish — amazing!
The smallies are not interested in the shallow, faster water on the upstream side of the bridge but they were very happy in the slacker, deeper water downstream into that second park. After fishing there for a while, I decided to walk upstream to the far end of the parking lot to see what the pool at the bend had to offer. This turned out to be the best looking water that I saw that day.
At the bend, the water gets pretty deep; maybe 5 to 10 feet in spots. I could see plenty of fish darting and skittering around as I walked on the paved path above them. There’s about a 30 yard stretch here which runs at that consistent depth. I switched to a streamer pattern — a Patuxent special — and started to work the water. Again, the bluegills jumped on it, but I started to pick up some trout. These trout were a little bit bigger than the ones I caught in the pod with the fallfish.
So, Hawksbill turned out to be a pretty good place after all. Even though it’s in the middle of the city, after stocking there are plenty of fish to go around. It’s put and take water so I imagine that most everything is fished out within three or four weeks of stocking. One thing you need to be aware of as you fish here is a you should not be an introvert. Given that the stream runs right next to the path, be prepared to have conversations with the various passersby who are all curious about how you are doing. Some will even offer advice on what to use. I did a few switches of my fly based on that advice and it turned out to be dead on.
Bottom line: If all you want to do is catch fish and get in some practice with your fly rod, this is the place to go. There is no scenery, there is no ambience but there is water and fish if you hit it within a reasonable time after stocking. With plenty of parking and a paved path next to the creek, it’s perfect if you have any physical issues with walking over uneven ground. You could roll
wheelchair along this and fish most of this stretch. Although I did not fish in the creek downstream from the bridge, that’s where I saw most of the folks working the water. Maybe that’s where they dump the bulk of the fish into the water. The next time I drive through Luray, I’ll have to stop and try that part as well.
Getting There: Find Luray on the map. Go there. The town is small and the creek is obvious.
Google Local Coordinates: 38.664938,-78.461974
Secrets Revealed? No. This is a very public location that is documented in theVirginia VDGIF Trout Stocking Plan
Stream in front of the parking lot – downstream
Upstream from the parking lot
Deep here – plenty of smallies
Looking back towards the bridge and the deep hole
Upstream from the parking lot – “the bend”
Stocked area goes around the corner another 1/4 mile or so
The parking lot. Geez. Get tired, go have a snack in one of the nice places on the main drag. Pretty nice for a change!
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore