Mossy Creek Fly Shop Report
The James and Shenandoah Rivers
Spring has finally arrived and the Valley is turning green and colorful once again. Recent rains have really helped replenish water flow from the mountain streams to our biggest rivers. The extended forecast is showing more rain so hopefully this trend will continue to provide us with a quality peak spring season.
The pre-spawn bass fishing is really heating up and should be prime now through about the 3rd week of April. The fish will spawn and the males will guard nests the latter part of April through the first few weeks of May. After that, the post spawn fishing will continue through the remainder of May while the bass spread back out and ultimately land in their summer homes. Now is the time to load heavy on the favorite flies of our local bass- the Clawdad, CK Baitfish, Crittermites, big deer hair divers, Half and Halfs, Clousers, and other large baitfish and crayfish patterns. Tactics will depend on the water levels you are dealing with this season. Low water creates a challenge where fish can be spread over large areas on ledges and behind structure. When the river levels are high the fish are easier to find in the pockets, “buckets”, or slack areas behind ledges, boulders, and points. The challenge in high water is getting your flies down quickly to the fish before they get swept away by the current. Big females holding on current seams preparing to move into a nesting area will attack large streamers fished aggressively in the current seam. If the water is clear, these fish will eat large surface bugs, minnows, poppers, etc. but you will generally hook up more with flies fished mid water column. We are off the musky fishing until they complete their spawn in about 4-5 weeks. We will target musky again mid May through June as water temps allow. Our peak spring season in April and May are now completely fully booked. June is now booking rapidly. Booking float trips for 1 angler to 14 anglers is easy with a quick call or email to the fly shop. Peak summer smallmouth season will be here in just a few months.
The brook trout fishing has been great lately. The recent rainfall replenished stream flow all the way to the headwaters.
Quill Gordons have come and gone and a few March browns have begun to show. Fish have been actively taking large sized dry flies in size 12. Royal Wulff’s, humpies, elk hair caddis, stimulators, and various parachute patterns like Adams, Rapidans, pheasant tails, and hare’s ear dries are all working well. Fish traditional Catskill style patterns in the turbulent rough water and parachute patterns on the slicker and more calm water for the best presentation and drift. Although the dry fly action should continue to get better, many anglers are still having better success fishing subsurface. With more rain in the forecast over the next few days, be prepared to fish higher water levels. Heavy nymphs with tungsten heads will help plunge flies down through fast currents to get to the fish. Split shot, strike indicators, tippet, floatant, and forceps: check these essential items before you head into the hills.
Sulphurs will be here before you know it. Are you ready for some epic dry fly fishing?
Water levels are back to above average flow on Beaver Creek, Mossy Creek, Spring Run, Buffalo Creek, Smith Creek at Susie Q Farm, and the upper South River. Fishing reports have been excellent over the last 3 weeks as rain fell, temperatures warmed up, and days have gotten longer. We are currently poised to have great water levels for at least the next 3-4 weeks with the recent rainfall. Wet weather in the extended forecast should ensure quality fishing into mid May. We don’t need a repeat of last year with over 40 inches of rain from May through June, but it would be nice to continue to get rain every 10 days or so to keep water levels perfect.
Some monster fish have been caught lately as a result of the quality water conditions on most our streams. Overcast, rainy days, and high stained water has produced some big browns and rainbows on the spring creeks. Streamer fishing has been the norm but the dry fly fishing is beginning to really take off. For most of March, big black caddis in size 12-14 dead drifted or swung or twitched was a very successful approach. Midges, wet flies, or small nymphs dropped off the back of the caddis swept up many of the unwilling surface eaters. The nymph fishing we have been doing the past few days has been with tungsten jigged pheasant tails, hare’s ears, caddis, and Prince Nymphs, CK nymphs, Psycho Prince, Copper Johns, mop flies, and standard Prince Nymphs. Crystal buggers, retrievers, and buggers dead drifted under large strike indicators have also been working well.
The VDGIF stocking program is in full swing. April and May generally bring about the best trout fishing in Virginia. Reports are getting better on most of our local streams and lakes. Water levels need to be monitored on the USGS real-time stream flow data sites to ensure water levels don’t get too high during upcoming rain events. Target the following VA managed waters for the best action: Sugar Hollow Reservoir, Mint Springs, Pedlar River, Elkhorn Lake, Braley Pond, Sherando Lake, North River DH, South River DH, Spring Run, South River SRA, Douthat, Jackson River at Hidden Valley and Poor Farm, Back Creek DH, Bullpasture, Cowpasture, Hardware River DH, Rose River, Hughes River, Robinson River, Tye River, Hawksbill Creek, Maury River, Silver Lake, Hone Quarry, Briery Branch, Stony Creek, Mill Creek, and Passage Creek DH should keep you busy if you are in our area. Stock up on crystal buggers, golden retrievers, Kreelex, slump busters, and a variety of attractor nymph patterns in size 12-16 for these Virginia managed streams. Don’t forget your strike indicators and split shot.
Capt. Steve Chaconas
More Grass, More Bass
Lots of fish are being caught as the water warms, the grass grows and fish stay shallow.
Water temperatures are in the upper 50s and approaching 60 and above.
For roughly two hours before and after high tide over grass, use moving lures. Lucky Craft LV RTO and LVR D-7 lipless cranks on 12 pound test GAMMA Edge Fluorocarbon line allows for better feel, hook sets and to snap free from grass. Reel to the grass and use a slight snap to free the bait. Control the drop for a slow fall, looking for a bite. Use reds with clouds and stained water. Sun and clear water, try chrome and baitfish patterns, including chartreuse patterns. Use Chatterbaits the same way. Crawfish patterns are working.
At lower tides, try Mann’s Baby 1-Minus along grass clumps and edges if you can find them. This bait along with spinnerbaits will work well around hard cover. Bump the cover and pause. Again 12-pound test Edge is best.
Skip Mizmo Quiver Stix stick worms and Mizmo green pumpkin tubes under docks. Texas or wacky rig the stick worms. Use a ¼ ounce Mud Puppy insert head for the tubes. Try a GAMMA Torque 20-pound test braid with a 10-pound Edge leader.
Drop shot is also working. Try a 10-12 inch leader. Pitch to grass clumps at lower tides. Cast a bit further with higher water. Also try split shot and Carolina rigs. Gravel banks are great areas for all of these presentations. Soak plastics in garlic Jack’s Juice Bait Spray.
Fish are working their way into the bay and beginning their surge up in the rivers. Croakers are hitting the gill nets but not bait. They go on a fast until about the time the dogwoods are in full bloom.
The Red Drum bite is just getting underway. Things will be happening soon.
Oregon Inlet reported Puppy Drum. Jennette’s Pier anglers are catching Bluefish in the mornings. Thursday marked the is OBX Pier opening day. Avalon Pier is also open.
The Oregon Inlet Fleet made it out to the Gulf Stream Tuesday and returned with Yellowfin, Blackfin and a nice Bluefin. Boaters fishing the sound are catching Specks and Stripers. The winds are SW at 19 and the water is 51 degrees.
The Point had plenty of Blue fish on Wednesday. Two of the Bluefish reported measured 32″ and 35″ respectively. There were some big Sand Bar Sharks landed as well. David Sheetz, age 81, caught a 5ft Sand Bar Shark and that was enough for him. Small Flounder, Blow Toads and Puppy Drum also reported from the Point. Ramp 49 had Sea Mullet. North of Avon Pier Blue Fish, Blow toads and one Sheepshead.
A couple of boats headed offshore Wednesday, hoping to get a day in before the wind picked up again. They reported good catches of both Yellowfin and Blackfin Tuna along with a scattered Wahoo and Mako Shark.