The Quantico Marine Corps Base includes a trout stream (Chopawamsic Creek) that is heavily stocked by Virginia. As I discussed in earlier posts on this water, you need to fish upstream of the small pond that is a half mile in from the entrance.
This season, the base adopted an unusual approach to managing this water that is good for those who like to hike but bad for those who are disabled. I encountered this situation in April when I went to fish the Creek after a recent stocking. I was unable to go on the weekend following the stocking, and decided to drive down in the evening in the middle of the week. I was surprised to see that the gate was shut at the access point to the Creek. There’s a large sign there that cautions that anyone who precedes past the shut gate will be prosecuted. Since this gate had never been shut before, I called range control and asked them if there was a training event going on that prohibited access. They were surprised that the gate was closed and said that the game check people had responsibility for opening it. Since the game check station is just up the road, I drove there to ask what the deal was.
The individual on-duty was surprised that the gate was shut and that he had responsibility for opening it. Granted, that may just be a function of the single individual who was there not understanding what the current policy was. At any rate, he made a few calls and the bottom line is:
- The base commander was upset that people have been driving off the road and creating huge ruts on either side – “mudding”.
- To prevent this, the gate is shut except on the weekend following stocking.
- However, access is still permitted during the week — you just have to walk.
To me, this is a total overreaction on the part of the base commander. I’m sure this policy does prevent people from driving off the side of the road during the week, but doesn’t do anything for that on the weekends when the gate is open following a stocking. The more important point is that if you merely shut the gate and don’t tell people why, you won’t change their behavior. The people who drive off-road and caused the shutdown will never know that they are being punished. The most egregious aspect of this is that there are a lot of disabled veterans who enjoy trout fishing who cannot walk the distance from the gate to the start of the stocked water. They are cut out of the action except for the few weekends where the gate is open.
Putting that tragic impact decide, this is an opportunity for those of us who don’t mind taking a good hike to fish. During the week, the long walk reduces the pressure on the stream to an insignificant amount. Since the stream is stocked with decent numbers of fish, there is a high probability that the frenzy following the arrival of the stock truck leaves plenty of fish in the water in the following two weeks. If you’re willing to hike, you can get to this dense population. In addition, if you want to fish with fly gear, waiting a few days provides the fish a cooling off period to begin to adapt to eating natural food and become willing takers of what you have to offer.
The best fishing is below the dam which is a 1.5 miles away from the gate. Snugged up to the dam are two large lakes that hold the runoff water before allowing it to feed into the Creek. The consensus of everyone that I have spoken with is that the two ponds get the bulk of the stocking since the water is fairly deep. This season, I fished this area twice and have to validate that my best luck was in these two ponds. You can quickly catch your limit if you’re willing to walk this far. Limit? Yes, this is a Creek where you should keep what you catch. In another few weeks, the water will warm up to the point of trout mortality. Just like several places in Maryland (Town Creek, Fifteen Mile Creek, Patapsco), this is a location where you can bring some trout home for dinner without any guilt at all.
The Creek was just stocked last Friday (5/15/09) and with the bad weather over the weekend, I imagine the fishing pressure was light. If you go down during this week, you should have good luck on a pretty good trout stream that is very close to the Washington Metropolitan area. Note – you do need a Quantico Marine Corps Base fishing license to fish this water. It’s only $10 and you can get it at the game check station or at the base exchange. You do not need a military ID card to purchase fishing license.
Bottom line: For once, Chopawamsic Creek is a hot fishing destination! If you have some time this week after work and are willing to walk 1.5 miles, you should head down there and take advantage of the situation. I’ll try and find the email of the base commander so you can join me in protesting the impact on the disabled veterans.
Based on the current situtaion, I’m upgrading my overall rating from RED to Yellow.
Getting There: Take exit 148 from I95. Turn west at the end of the ramp. There is a small dirt road to the right of the bridge you encounter about 100 yards west of I95. Turn down that road and, if the gate is open, follow the road to the small lake. Fish up the stream from there. It is stocked at each stream crossing point.
Google Local Coordinates: 38.523014,-77.373179
Secrets Revealed? No. This is a very public location that is documented in the Virginia VDGIF stocking plan
Dates Fished: 04/25/2009 and 05/15/2009
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Plenty of structure
Easy, tree free casting
Riffled areas hold trout when the riffle hits the main creek
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore