After a disappointing hour or two fishing the lower stretch of Peters Mill Creek, I drove back down to Passage. It had been stocked a few days before so I was not optimistic that I would have very good luck using fly gear. Freshly stocked trout are not accustomed to natural food until they have been in the water for a week or so. Until then, anything with flash will work.
I pulled off at the first turnoff at the southern end of the creek near the edge of the National Forest just upstream from the Elizabeth Furnace Recreational Area. The short walk over to the river required dodging through a gauntlet of thick brush and pricker bushes to reach the high bank that protected the stream.
Unfortunately, the water was running full with a unique green milky color. I could see a few rocky boulders peeking through the murk, but beyond that — nothing. In this spot, the banks towered an average of eight to 10 feet high above the creek bed. The creek itself, at the current water levels, was to deep to wade – even with chest waders. As I gazed around, I wished I had brought my spin gear because that was the only fishing “weapon” that would be usable from the bank. With a fly rig, there was no room for a backcast into the dense brush and the height above the creek bed rendered my halting roll cast totally ineffective. Hopeful that it would get better as I wandered downstream, I headed in that direction.
I encountered another fisherman who was using jigs around a complex of fallen logs and stopped to chat with him. He indicated that nothing was moving in the time that he had been here, but was optimistic that he was in the right place at the right time. Not wanting to step on his section of the creek, I continued downstream looking for shallower water where I could wade out and deploy my fly rig.
Unfortunately, I was not going to find that good access point. I did find a place or two where I could slide down the muddy bank and ease into the water, but it just seemed fruitless. I fished my way around the bend until I got close to the campground and gave up the ghost. My conclusion was that the stretch of river was too far from the stock points and the fish had not moved yet. I remember reading a study that said that rainbow trout will hold where they are stocked for three days before moving downstream. It had barely been that amount of time since the stock truck visited and, of course, there was no guarantee that they had put any fish in upriver from where I was standing.
Bottom Line: Passage Creek remains a good destination if you need a quick trout fix and live in the Washington DC area. However, be prepared to share the creek with 50+ of your newfound best friends if you go on a weekend. Take both fly and spin gear with you to be prepared for any situation.
Date Fished: 3/20/2010
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Getting There: Mapquest yourself to Front Royal, VA. Turn west on 55. Follow it to Fort Valley Road and turn left (south) to drive by Passage Creek. You will see the sign for the hatchery on your left. Keep going and the creek will pop into view. Keep going until you pass the Elizabeth Furnace campground and pull into the turnoff on the west side of the road.
Google Local Coordinates: 38.919887,-78.337669
Secrets Revealed? No. This is a very public location that is documented in the following places:
Upstream from the access point
Downstream – even the riffles in the distance were deep
Sun put a springtime feel to the water
Another upstream view from the corner
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore