It was a chilly morning in mid-March when I made the trek out to the Blue Ridge in search of new water. I saw that Peters Mill was listed on the VDGIF site as stocked trout water and my consolidated table indicated that it had been reloaded with fish a week or so before my arrival. All was good.
I drove in through Woodstock Gap and was immediately disappointed. Looking down at the stream from the road, it did not appear that there was anything there. What lay in front of me was an exceptionally narrow, small creek that tumbled down the steep gradient of the Gap. You could see most of the stocked section from the road and it did not appear that there were any significant pools like on the South Fork of the Piney. The “stocked water” signs only stretched a 100 yards or so along the road and then the creek swung west. I drove farther up and discovered a turnoff into a camping area that dead ended at a forest service gate that provides walking access to the upper stream.
With the hope that the water would get better a little farther up and that the stocking folks would be able to use the unimproved road behind the gate to penetrate a farther away from the hardball, I geared up and started walking. After a short 1/4 mile, I swung over to the stream.
What lay before me was the most pathetic section of water I have seen since visiting the upper section of Jeremy’s Run in 2006. The depth was measured in inches. There were pools here and there that, at best, approached a foot or so in depth. This section of the creek was not different from the stretch I viewed from the road. It is about 5 – 10 feet wide in a good section with densely packed vegetation hanging over the stream. While that may protect the trout in the summer from heat, it made casting really, really tough.
Ok. I was here, so I may as well fish it and see if anything was running around. The 42 degree water did not bode well and, given that temperature and the chilly morning air, I assumed that any action would be below the surface.
I tied on a small BWO to use as an indicator with a midge dropper and started to work my way up the stream. Although I did not stick my hand in to root around the rocky bottom to see what type of nymphs were present, I hoped that a midge would do the trick. Every third cast ended up in a tree or bush – this was tight! The look and feel of the water did not improve. It continued to run about 4 inches deep and the pools, when found, were tiny. A good one would reach a foot and stretch a few feet across.
I’m sure there are some small native brookies up here that scattered as I fumbled my way through the underbrush, but nothing big enough to interest me.
After whacking and hacking for about an hour, I gave up and walked back to the truck to go someplace else.
Bottom Line: Nope. This is a loser. Maybe you will have good luck if you get there on the lower stocked stretch right after they load up the creek. Not sure where they would possibly put the fish as the water does not look substantial enough to support life.
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.
Secrets Revealed? No. This is a very public location that is documented on the Virginia VDGIF website
Inches deep. Maybe 10 feet across
Foot deep pools at the bends
Tight with close vegetation
Good luck casting thru this!
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore