Thanks to its location, Virginia is a wildly popular state not just to live in, but also to visit. There is just so much that attracts people to the state, and its outdoor recreational activities are one of those top reasons. Although it hasn't always been the case, Virginia is now becoming quite popular for fly fishing. Anglers love the fact they can find a true challenge here, and take on water that will push their skills.
The sport is becoming so popular that there is now an annual Fly Fishing Festival. This festival takes place in April, and may be what you want to plan your trip around. This festival has grown to be so popular, and large, that it is now one of the largest fly fishing festivals in the U.S. today.
This guide is dedicated to all things fly fishing in the state of Virginia. We will explore some of the top locations, take a look at the fly fishing season, hatches, and even the gear you’ll want to bring along. So sit back, relax, and learn what this beautiful state has to offer.
Virginia Trout Fishing Map
Click the map icons to get directions to fishing spots, boat ramps and real-time USGS stream flow data
Virginia’s varied terrain is absolutely perfect for those looking to do a little fly fishing. Not only can you find a variety of locations scattered across the state, but they vary in skill level. You can choose to push your skills to the limit; or maybe you just want an easy go of it, where you can relax and reel in a number of fish with ease. Virginia has it all.
According to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, there are more than 2,900 miles worth of trout streams, lakes, ponds, and reservoirs you can explore. Within this area are 600 miles of stocked trout waters. Here’s a look at some of the most popular areas for fly fishing.
Accotink Creek is located near Annandale, and is ideal from March through to the end of November. Anglers can look forward to catching brown and rainbow trout. It is located fairly close to a major highway, which can be distracting for some. On the positive side, it means the location is very accessible by car. This location is perfect for a half-day or full-day experience.
Sometimes you don't want that small stream experience. If you're looking for a lake to enjoy, then Lake Brittle could be the answer. The lake is located near the city of Broken Hill, in Fauquier County. The season runs from May until November, giving you plenty of time to visit. The water here is a little warmer, which changes up the type of fish you'll find. Fish species in Lake Brittle are walleye, largemouth bass, and sunfish. It’s not the typical trout fishing that many other areas offer. If you're looking for the "quiet" time to visit the lake, weekdays are best. This little known lake gets next to no anglers during the week. The weekends attract some people, but it doesn't usually get crowded.
Located near the city of Alexandria is Holmes Run. This is a very small, scenic, and quiet creek. The water from the creek flows from the Lake Barcroft dam. What's really unique about this creek is that it's not in some remote location. Instead, it's in the busy suburbs. You can easily escape to the creek for just a few hours of solitude and fishing. This is a perfect example of a creek that is stocked by the state. Twice a year the rainbow trout are stocked, which means a fairly simply fishing experience for you. Another great benefit with this creek is that it is open year-round for fishing. No time is a bad time for Holmes Run.
The Shenandoah River - South Fork is one of the more popular options in Virginia. Anglers can expect to find a very healthy amount of smallmouth bass available, along with largemouth bass, channel catfish, crappie, muskellunge, common carp, and more. The catch-rate for the smallmouth bass in this river is higher than any other river in the state, according to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. With that said, you won't be catching the big trophy-sized fish here. As a side note the river is absolutely stunning as far as the scenery goes. You'll be in awe of the natural beauty surrounding you. This river can be enjoyed by float or by shore. Fishing is open year-round on the river. With that said, smallmouth bass has a shorter season that runs from April to September.
If you are fishing for trout in Virginia, then you will be able to do so all year long. With that said, there are limits set by the state. You won't be able to catch more than six trout per day. There is also a size restriction, as the trout can't be shorter than seven inches in length. It doesn't matter if you are fishing in stocked or wild trout streams; there is no low period.
With that said, the summer months can prove to be a bit more challenging. During these months the water starts to heat up, and the water suffers from low stream flows. These factors play into how difficult it can be to catch the trout. You may find it takes a bit of research to find a good spot in summer. Experienced anglers probably won’t have many difficulties during these months. They will be able to adjust their technique accordingly in most cases.
Virginia seems to hit that perfect balance in terms of weather. It never seems to get too cold, nor does it get too hot. Instead it's that "just right" temperature on a consistent basis. The summer months are warm and can get humid. Depending on the region, it can get as hot as 88 degrees in July. Meanwhile the winter temperatures in January can drop as low as 19 degrees. This is mainly in the northern area of the state. So what this tells anglers is that it’s going to be comfortable most of the year.
It's always wise to familiarize yourself with a state's hatch chart before you pack your gear. In Virginia the hatch season takes place from about March until the end of October. The mayflies take place from March through the end of June. The stone fly and caddis fly hatches tend to take place from April until July. They suddenly pick up again for September and October. The terrestrials will take place from April until the end of October. Keep in mind, this is the average hatch chart for the state, and some areas may be a few weeks earlier or later.
In order to pick the best equipment, meaning your fly rod and reel, it’s important to determine where you’ll be fishing. Other factors to consider are the time of year, the hatches taking place, and the fish species you are fishing for. In general most experts would agree that choosing a fly rod that is between seven and a half and nine feet is ideal for Virginia waters. A five or six weight is usually as safe bet as well. If the area you are fishing in doesn’t offer much room for casting, you may need a shorter rod. This will give you a bit more control while casting.
When choosing your flies you want to try to match the hatch as experts put it. Using the hatch chart listed above will give you a pretty good idea of what is in season. You want to use a fly that the fish are interested in going for, and are currently hunting for. Visiting a local fly fishing shop can certainly be helpful in finding those perfect flies. A fly shop will carry what’s in season, what works in the region, and what is most popular with anglers.
Whether you like floating, wading, or fishing on the shore the state of Virginia has all of the bases covered. You can pick and choose based on the style of fishing if you like. If you plan on doing any wading, be sure to pack a pair of high-quality, chest-high waders.
Anyone who plans to fish in Virginia, and who is 16 years of age and older, requires a valid fishing license. There are resident and non-resident licenses available. Choose from a one-year or five-day license. For those who plan to hunt as well as fish, there is a combination license available. For information on licensing, as well as the regulations for fishing, you can visit the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website.
Virginia is a state that is ready and waiting to welcome visitors and residents to its many fly fishing locations. You won’t be disappointed in the scenery, diversity of fish species, and the amount of ponds, lakes, streams, and rivers open for fishing.