About a month after stocking was complete on Chopawamsic Creek (on the Quantico Marine Corps Base), I wandered down there to check it out. In an earlier post, I did a recon and was not impressed; having been spoiled by a few trips to the North Branch and scenic, “trouty” looking waters out there. But, on this particular day, I only had a few hours free, it was close, and I needed to fish.
Be sure you get a base fishing permit before you fish on Quantico. I already had one, so I dove right in and turned off on the dirt road. There will be a number of fords across the creek as the road cuts across the bends. All the fords are concrete and will not present a problem – even to a flatland car – except if the water is very high. I doubt that ever occurs since the flow is from the Breckinridge Reservoir and is probably controlled to match the water level in the dam. Sadly, this is not a tailwater which would have a trout friendly cold flow. Instead, the water dribbles over the top, getting baked on the concrete face of the dam and splashes tired and exhausted into a stagnant looking set of pools under the dam.
It’s about a mile to walk up to the dam from where you park your truck, and the hike is not really worth it. The stream is equally bad throughout the entire stretch. Clearly, this is just a shooting gallery for trout dumped from the stock truck, all condemned to die since they have no hope of survival – they are either caught or boiled as the water temp increases to an unacceptable level in the summer.
But, I was here and, of course, had to walk to get away from any perception of pressure. On the day I was here, I was disappointed with that as well. There were people and dogs all over the place happily splashing and playing the few pools that would support a trout – even a stocked one. So, I kept walking until I hit the dam and then started to assemble my gear.
Crisis! I had mixed up the tip of my 4wt with the 6wt. S%%%@. I had just walked in a mile, was not happy with what I was seeing and now I couldn’t fish either? After a bit of consideration, I pulled out a pencil upon which I have rolled a few yards of duct tape and attached the 6wt tip to the 4wt rod. The heck with it, I’ll make it work. Surprisingly, it was not bad – especially for a new fly guy who could not tell the difference anyway.
I started fishing down the stagnant looking pools with no luck on woolly buggers and then switched to a yellow trout magnet when I hit the stream part. It immediately attracted the attention of every bluegill within hailing distance and they lined up for a turn at snapping at it. Hey, this was turning into fun. I realized that while I would not get any trout here, I would get some good casting practice and enjoy the tug of some fiesty little guys.
The stream is closed in by trees that close out the sun. So, it was reasonably cool as I waded down the stream, looking for spots that were at least a foot deep to entice a bluegill into snapping. I continued this down to the end of the red line on the map. That’s where I stumbled across a larger, deeper pool – probably the best one on the creek and within two casts had actually landed a trout! He was probably the last one in the creek and committed suicide out of loneliness – but I did not complain.
Bottom line on this place is that you need to go to the meat harvest that follows the stock truck if you want some trout. The stream will quickly warm up and they will die anyway. Do not expect any solitude or physical challenge associated with the trip. The walking in easy, the stream is level and does not have any trickly wading. The scenery is middle Virginia woodland – no dramatic waterfalls, rocky runs or places that would be good for nymphing. Expect to use dry flies or streamers on this body of water.
And… expect to catch a flock of bluegills!
Getting There: Take exit 148 on I95 and turn left. Hop on the dirt road that is right before the bridge and follow it to the end.
Quantico Permit: You can get it at the Game Check Station (continue following the hardball instead of turning off. Turn left right before you get to the checkpoint. The Game Check Station is on the left.) If it is not open, you can also pick up one at Lunga Reservior or at the Base Exchange.
Looking up to the dam across the stagnant looking pools
Crisis solved – the duct tape worked! And my 6wt and 4wt were joined in an unnatural temporary marriage
There are a few wide, but very shallow spots.
The creek winds its way through the valley with fairly steep terrain alternating on both sides
The catch of the day on a yellow magnet
The closest thing to a scenic view – but don’t get excited, this is running over a concrete abutement
Typical view of the stream
The last trout in the stream
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore