A beautiful day in the Shenandoah Valley seemed fitting for a bit of time on the North Fork of the Shenandoah River near Edinburg, VA. Water temperatures in the high 30′s to low 40′s has the bass waiting for food to bounce in their mouth.
Winter fishing on a 70 degree day. A slowly stripped, seriously overweight Madtom was just too much for this bass, and several others, to pass up. A pleasant surprise since the water temperature was only 46 degrees. A temperature which was only four degrees warmer than three days before when I got skunked.
The North Fork of the Shenandoah River is currently in great shape at Strasburg, VA but upstream from Edinburg, VA to Fulks Run, VA there is a lot of water. The USGS Streamflow Gauges show that the river has reached it’s crest on both the Mt. Jackson Streamflow Gauge and the Cootes Store Streamflow Gauge. This is what we call “quick water”. Quick water leaves the area quickly because it fell in a short time frame and was not able to soak in. This doesn’t help the water table, it is mostly just a speed bump in the Smallmouth Bass Fly Fishing. Fortunately you can usually get ahead of or behind the extra water as it moves through the Shenandoah Valley.
The South Fork of the Shenandoah River is currently in great shape from Luray, VA downstream to the Potomac River. The USGS Streamflow Gauges show the river has reached it’s crest on the Lynnwood, VA Streamflow Gauge. This water will move through quickly as well but there is a lot of it.
The North Fork of the Shenandoah River and the South Fork of the Shenandoah River will both have “fishable” areas through the weekend. Give us a call if you need help determining where the extra water is or track it on the USGS Streamflow Gauges.
1.98″ of rain in downtown Edinburg has the North Fork and South Fork of the Shenandoah River high, muddy and un-fishable as of right now. Big Stony Creek, Mill Creek, Passage Creek and the rest of the Shenandoah Valley stocked trout streams are high and un-fishable right now. If you have to get on the water, your only option is likely kayaking, rafting or whitewater canoeing the North Fork or South Fork of the Shenandoah. Floating over the low water bridges shouldn’t pose much of a problem as many are 3-4 feet underwater as I write this. The good news is many streams and rivers have reached their crest and for you hoping to cast to a few trout, Passage Creek is dropping back quickly and will be fishable by Saturday (12-10-2011) afternoon unless we receive unpredicted rain. Until then, stop by the fly shop at 10:00am Saturday for our Workshop: Fly Fishing for Trout.
The North and South Fork of the Shenandoah River are both high and discolored from heavy rain which fell in the early morning hours of 6/20/2011. Both of these rivers will be dropping back soon if they have not already reached their crest. The upstream stretches of the North Fork of the Shenandoah will be one of the first areas to become fishable. The North Fork should be fishable upstream from Edinburg, VA by Thursday (6/23) and throughout the drainage by Saturday. The South Fork should be fishable upstream from Luray, VA by Friday (6/24) and downstream to Front Royal, VA by Sunday (6/26). These rough predictions are based on the premise that we receive no more heavy rain this week.
Since both the number and size of the bass were better in 2010 than they have been in many years I fully expect the smallmouth fishing to be outstanding this year, especially on the North and South Forks of the Shenandoah River.
I plan to start fishing for smallmouth bass in March this year and I’ll tell you on my weekly Bass Stream Fly Fishing Report what is happening. At this time the cold water and full streams prompt the use of a SA Mastery Sink Tip III Fly Line in order to get the flies down to the bass. These are ideal conditions to use our new Murray’s Magnum Streamers. These conditions can continue through April but by the middle of May the bass are awake and are feeding well. Many bass start feeding heavily on Hellgrammites in the riffles now throughout the day and on adult Brown Drake Mayflies and Olive Caddisflies at dusk.
From July until mid October the bass feed heavily throughout the rivers and you may choose the tactics and flies you like. I find that I catch my largest bass along the shaded banks and grass beds throughout the day and in the tail of the pools at dusk. My most dependable surface flies are the Shenandoah Blue Popper 6, Shenandoah Sunfish Slider 6, Murray’s Bass Cricket 8 and Murray’s Floating Chub Minnow 6. When I go underwater these flies seldom let me down: Shenk’s White Streamer 6, Murray’s Heavy Black Hellgrammite 6 and the Murray’s Magnum Streamer 4.
If you like fast dry fly fishing for smallmouth bass try to be on the river the last 3 weeks of September during the last 2 hours of daylight. The hexagenia mayflies, both duns and spinners are on the water and the fishing is fast and furious. One evening last September I counted 17 smallmouth bass rising to these adults in one measured minute. I put on a Mr. Rapidan Skater 8 and by going one on one with rising bass I caught dozens of nice bass. If you don’t hit a heavy hatch in the area you are fishing be willing to try another stretch of the river. The nymphs like a silty stream bottom.
In late October and November I revert back to the deep water tactics I mentioned for using in March. How late in the year do I fish for bass? I keep going until I get skunked twice.
1. Each Friday I provide a brief stream report on both trout and smallmouth fishing on my website (www.murraysflyshop.com).
2. The first part of each month I provide a free email newsletter stating what I expect will be happening that month.
3. The Murray’s Fly Shop Angler’s Club provides a weekly newsletter to you from March to November on current fishing conditions. (Cost $50 for first time sign up then $15 yearly).
If you would like to attend one of our Smallmouth Bass “On The Stream Fly Fishing Schools” this year we will be offering six 2 day schools. Most of the time in these schools is spent on the stream where you will be fishing and working with our instructors to enhance your learning and experience. These fly fishing schools cover the fishing tactics for nymphs, streamers, top water, reading the water, equipment/ fly tackle selection and casting the fly rod.
I was floating the North Fork of the Shenandoah River on a beautiful evening in late May when there was a very heavy caddis hatch on the river. Fishing a Mr. Rapidan Delta Wing Olive Dry Caddis I caught many nice bass. As I drifted into a long deep pool I decided to experiment. Fishing my favorite nymphs and streamers in every part of the pool produced only a few small bass. I put my dry caddis back on and caught a bass every second or third cast.
The North and South Fork of the Shenandoah are both in great shape for floating. The temperatures are in the upper 50′s to lower 60′s. We have done well with streamers fished slow and deep with sink tip fly lines. Olive Marauders and Black Madtom/ Sculpin in Size 4 or 6 have been working well.
Use caution if you are wading since there is still a lot of water in the river.
I have watched several anglers wading without a wader belt…. please do not do this! A wader belt is designed to keep your waders from filling up with water should you accidentally take a swim. Waders which are full of water make it very difficult to move/ swim which can lead to dire consequences in fast or deep water.
The warm weather has kicked the local fly fishing in to gear! The North and South Fork of the Shenandoah River are both in great shape and are fishing well (for April). Kelly landed this 15 1/2 inch Smallmouth Bass on an Olive Marauder #6 on 4/7/2010. A Sink Tip III Fly Line will work well for helping to swim your flies deeply through the ledges and deep pockets. An 8 Wt. Fly Rod will help you cast the heavy flies and lines a bit better than a 6 or 7 that we typically use in the summer.
Fly Fishing for Brook Trout in the Shenandoah National Park has been very good with mayflies and caddis coming off throughout the day. There is still a lot of water so if you are willing to hike into the upper reaches of your favorite stream, you will likely be rewarded with a few more willing fish.