The Chopawamsic Creek on Quantico Marine Corps Base should be considered an urban fishing stream. It is right off of exit 148 on I95 within easy striking distance of every angler in Northern Virginia. In fact, the only filter on access to this water is the requirement to purchase a Quantico license for 10 bucks in addition to your normal Virginia licenses.
That said, this is decent water to visit if you do not have anyplace else better to go and it is within a week or two of stocking. You can bet that the weekend after stocking, this place is packed! I wrote about the upper section last year, so I decided to fish the middle section after the green light on stocking this year.
I had a Friday off, the weather was “iffy”, so I made a late decision to go fishing and Quantico was close and stocked. After pulling off I95 at exit 148, I headed west and took the first right onto a dirt road that immediately crosses the creek. This road goes all the way to the gate at the top where you can still walk about 3/4 mile to get up to the dam at Breckinridge Reservoir. Since I did that walk last time, I decided to drive to the small pond, find the next crossing and fish upstream.
I was the only truck here on this weekday and did not have any problem getting a slot at the pulloff near the stream crossing. At each stream crossing, you can count on a nice pool as the crossings are improved and feature a raised concrete ramp. The water flows across the ramp, but you do not need to worry about getting hung up in the stream or the mud. The ramps are raised a bit and this causes the water to back up.
I loaded up with a dry fly dragging a midge dropper and started to work upstream. After about an hour, I realized that these fish were not interested in anything moving on the top and my dropper was not attracting any attention either. I switched to a streamer and started to pick up some fish. I alternated between a classic wooly bugger and a white trout magnet. The stockers seemed to like both.
Even though this water goes dead as it heats up, I decided to throw everything back for the next guy. If you fish this creek, you should probably keep anything you catch since the water will heat up to the point of killing all the trout by mid-June. No sense in letting them go to waste. But, this day was early in the season and I decided to let other folks enjoy this spot and catch/keep.
The creek during this time of the year is a joy to fish. The vegetation is spread enough so you can cast easily. The water runs about a foot or two deep; spiking up to 5 feet in the obvious holes and near the crossings. The creek typically runs about 15 feet wide and is easy to wade upstream.
There is a beaten path on the western side of the creek as this is a high traffic destination when freshly stocked. From observing the other folks on previous visits, most of them do not wear waders and do not get the good casting angles that are available to folks who can move into the water to achieve the perfect angle.
One point to note is that the creek is not in a park. It is part of the Quantico training area. While I have never seen it in use or closed to the public, the fact that I found an unexploded smoke grenade right off the path speaks to the serious purpose the Marines overlay onto this resource. As you fish, hike or move in any military training area, be alert for ordnance that may have fallen off during training and never, ever pick anything up. The impact of rain and rust can make these things unstable.
Bottom Line: Not a destination location. This is a place to go if you live in Northern Virginia and do not have time to go someplace better. Only go here within two weeks of stocking. The pressure is intense and it gets fished out quickly.
Getting There: Take exit 148 west from I95. Within 100 yards, there will be a dirt road on the right that leads to a creek. Take this right and follow it to the small pond you will see on your left about a mile up from the road. Park anywhere around here and start fishing upstream.
Secrets Revealed? No. This is a very public location that is documented on the Virginia VDGIF
When the water is up, there are plenty of places for the trout to roam
Another wide spot in the stream
Got to fish this when the stockers are there
This is a military training area and you need to be alert for munitions. Report any unexploded items like this smoke grenade to the Range Control folks.
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore