I had fished Peters Mill Creek once before. On that trip, I started at the campground at the upper end and fished upstream south into the George Washington National Forest. All I found was skinny water and dense brush with not a fish in sight. That said, I rationalized a repeat visit in spite of what the facts told me last time. I noticed that Peters Mill was freshly stocked and added the fact that we have had a significant amount of rain to conclude the water might be high enough to make it worthwhile. Beyond that, I was in the throes of recovery from a lack of fishing over the long winter combined with a limited amount of time before I had to return and do yard work to stay out of trouble with the Basswife. With that, I headed out to Front Royal to check it out.
As you come up off the asphalt and onto the dirt road, there is a precipitous cliff to your left. Peters Mill Creek runs through the crack at the bottom of the valley. Continue down the dirt road and, as it turns to the right, the stocked trout waters signs begin to appear. On this day, there was plenty of water and it was running strong. Excited about the prospect of finally catching a fish after a long winter’s drought, I pulled over at the first turnout on the left and rigged up. Unfortunately, my enthusiasm was premature. Even though there was a lot more water running in the creek than I had seen on my last trip, it was still exceptionally shallow with a few marginal, foot deep plunge pools at the base of the small waterfalls that stairstep up the mountain.
Since I was here, I decided to proceed. Knowing that freshly stocked trout do not respond well to the insect patterns, I tied on a brightly colored trout magnet and began flipping that into the shallow, but fast moving water. Nothing. I walked upstream for a half-mile; continuing this approach with different colors of magnets. When these failed to produce, I became desperate and even used a few scattered dry flies and anything else I could find in my fly box that I thought would work.
Unfortunately, the water remained very shallow and I surmised that if fish were dropped into water this skinny, they were probably picked off by the wildlife. I encountered another fisherman and had a short chat with him. He had fished here before and indicated that you could get a couple fish after stocking if the water was in the condition we saw today. I encountered him later in the day and he confirmed that he had had the same lack of luck that I had. The heck with this. I resolved to head to north and visit a few of the areas along Passage Creek on my way back out to I-66.
Bottom Line: Peters Mill Creek remains a loser. There is just not enough water to merit driving the extra distance. Beyond that, I have a hard time solving the “stock truck calculus” that demands the road be fairly close to the creek to receive its fair share of fish. You can count the places where that occurs on three fingers and even in those spots, the water is not that great. Given that, my assumption is that this is lightly stocked and whatever fish are deposited are quickly removed.
Date Fished: 3/20/2010
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. Turn right on Woodstock Tower Road and follow it into the hills. The stocked area will pop up on your left.
Google Local Coordinates: 38.863788,-78.440387
Secrets Revealed? No. This is a very public location that is documented in on the Virginia VDGIF trout area map.
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The view upstream from the first parking turnout… actually looks good
The downstream view from the same spot reveals the start of the cascade into the deep valley protected by the cliff.
The view at the upper end… skinny and shallow
More skinny and shallow.
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore