There’s a lot of great fly fishing in Virginia and I may be biased, but I think it’s one of the best fly fishing destinations in the southeastern states. From spring-fed rivers full of trout to large winding rivers full of smallmouth and largemouth bass. There is truly a bounty of fish.
As a Virginia native, I’ve been fishing these waters nearly my entire life and in the last few years I’ve been exclusively fly fishing, constantly on the hunt for the best spots for trout fishing in VA. I also do a fair amount of bass fishing on my local waters as well.
There are some incredible fly fishing rivers in Virginia. However, you shouldn’t overlook the blue ridge mountain streams or the local lakes. On top of that you can also find some great fishing in the bay, and down in Virginia Beach.
So, if you’re looking to come to fish the Old Dominion state then keep reading. We’re going to cover all the different spots you can find fish, and what kind of fish are going to be there, then keep on reading.
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Why Fly Fish Virginia?
Virginia has a bounty of different fishing opportunities. There are several large rivers running through the state where you can target your choice of freshwater fish.
On top of that, there is also plenty of smaller water. Limitless farm ponds, local lakes, and mountain streams that hold the state fish, the Brook Trout.
Virginia Fly Fishing By Species
Below, we’re going to go over three different species of fish that you can find in abundance in Virginia. Don’t fret if you don’t find the fish you’re looking for, chances are Virginia has it too!
The mountain streams that wind throughout the western half of the state are home to native and stocked Brook Trout. Small nymph patterns work well year-round, and different Adams and terrestrials work well in the warm months.
There are several spring creeks and tailwaters that host a strong population of both wild and stocked rainbows. Nymphs and streamers work well, and during hatches look for BWO’s. In the summertime, terrestrials are the ticket.
One of the best Smallmouth rivers in the country runs through the southwestern part of the state. The New River is ideal for large smallies, but also, the James and Shenandoah are no slouches either. Crawfish, streamers, and poppers work well year-round. Cicada flies in the summer are deadly.
Best Fly Fishing Spots in Virginia
Below, we’re going to cover several different rivers and lakes that are all great for Virginia Trout fishing. No matter what species you’re looking for, chances are the list below will have that fish in there.
So, if that seems enticing then check out the list below. Do some exploring and see which ones will work best for you and which ones are closest.
Fly Fishing Rivers in Virginia
First off, we’re going to cover some of the best rivers for fly fishing in Virginia. They’re going to hold bass, panfish, trout, and even musky. Check it out and see for yourself!
The New River
Tucked away in the southwest corner of the state, the New is regarded as the best fly fishing in Virginia for smallmouth and one of the best in the country. On top of having great fishing, this is also regarded as one of the oldest rivers in the world.
If you’re going after smallmouth then spring, summer, and fall will be the best times to find them. Poppers are great for topwater. Subsurface you should be using crawfish and streamer patterns that imitate the natural forage.
Running through north-central Virginia, the Rapidan is one of the most pristine native Brook Trout Rivers in the state. The fly “Mr. Rapidan was named specifically after this river, and also works very well.
The trout section is located in the Shenandoah National Park. Lower sections can produce different kinds of bass, catfish, and panfish. Many spots of this river are very easy to get to. Private sections need permission and a possible four-wheeler to get in.
Jackson River (Tailwater)
Regarded as the best wild trout stream in the state, The Jackson is known to produce large Rainbow and Brown Trout. Big fish eat streamers for most of the year, but hatches in the spring can produce wonderful days.
It’s not near a major town or city so it will take most people a decent drive to get here. Located in the western part of the state in the mountains. There are many boat ramps that you can use to access the river.
Located in the Northwest portion of the state, The Shenandoah is arguably one of the prettiest rivers in the state. it meanders through the valley, and the fishing is pretty good too.
Anglers can expect to catch both smallmouth and largemouth bass. Poppers work well in the mornings and evenings, where streamers, crawfish, and other subsurface lures work well during the day when the sun is at its peak.
This river is very easy to get to and is located in the western portion of the state in the Valley. Stocked annually the river has a difficult time maintaining wild trout, but the spring-fed river stays in perfect conditions year-round to grow huge fish.
There are tons of hatches that occur in the spring and early summer. Making dry fly fishing great. Terrestrials are ideal for the summer as the river stretches through pastures, so there are plenty of hoppers for the fish to eat.
Fly Fishing Lakes in Virginia
Now that we’ve touched on the rivers lets go over some different lakes in the state. Below is a list of five different lakes where you can have a great time with a fly rod. Check them out!
Seasonally Stocked Lakes
Due to Virginia’s hot summers, it’s difficult for a lake to maintain trout year-round. There are some lakes that do and are listed below, but many lakes are regarded as put and take by the state
These are all over the state. Easily find them on the Virginia Department of Game website. Here you can implore a number of tactics to catch these fish. Oftentimes these lakes are usually pretty easy to get too as well.
Located in central Virginia Lake Anna is a power plant lake. So, largemouth bass can be caught year-round when fishing next to the plant. The waters stay warm enough that bass are active throughout the year.
There are many different docks you can find to access the lake. Poppers work well in the mornings and evenings when the temperatures rise. Crawfish are great year-round, but you may need a sinking line during the cooler months.
This is the lake that feeds the Jackson Tailwater. This lake is deep enough that trout can survive the hot summers, and the fact it’s in the mountains helps keep it a touch cooler out there as well.
You can fish for bass, panfish as well as trout. Throwing dries to rising fish can be great in the warmer months. The fishing will slow down during the winter so it’s best to fish here during the spring, summer, and fall.
Laurel Bed Lake
A mountain lake in Southwest Virginia, Laurel Bed is 330 acres and is stocked in the fall with trout. Fishing for trout is usually excellent from fall until around June. They can be caught in the summer though too. Look for where a cool spring enters the lake.
Streamers and subsurface will catch the most trout, but the spring and summer will allow you to throw all different kinds of terrestrials. Floating and sinking ants, hoppers, beetles.
John H Kerr Reservoir (Buggs Island)
This lake is located on the very southern border of the state and some of it is also in North Carolina. It’s very easy to access as there are many public fishing areas as well as boat docks that you can launch from.
It’s regarded as one of the best largemouth bass fisheries in the country. With 2-4 pound bass being very common to catch. Look to break out the larger tippet and your slightly larger fly rods when fishing here. This is also a great lake to catch panfish as well as crappie.
Virginia Fly Fishing Seasons
The great thing about fly fishing in Virginia is that it can be done year-round. Spring and Fall are ideal for all kinds of fish, but even in the summer and winter, you can seek out the spring-fed rivers that allow trout to feed aggressively.
So, below we’re going to go into a little more detail about the fly fishing season in Virginia. Each has its own pros and cons so if you’re planning a trip check out the list and see which one worse for you.
Virginia Fly Fishing in March/April
Fishing starts to really heat up during this month. There are usually a few hatches occurring so the trout are looking up, and the bass are beginning to move up shallow and enter their pre-spawn phase. Mountain Brookie fishing is hot right now.
Virginia Fly Fishing in May/June
The weather is now consistently warm and trout and bass will be actively feeding for most of the day. Emergers dries, nymphs, and streamers will all work right now. Look for hatches in the midday to afternoon hours.
Virginia Fly Fishing July/August
The beginning of July is not too hot yet so fishing during the middle of the day can still be successful. Towards the middle of July into mid-August, the morning and evening will be the most productive hours. Terrestrials are key for trout
Virginia Fly Fishing September/October
Similar to the spring this is a great time to be out fishing. Bass are feeding aggressively before their winter dormancy and cooler water and temperatures make the trout more active as well. I try not to fish for native brookies while they spawn. Which is usually mid-october into November.
Best Fly Fishing Lodges in Virginia
Below, we have a list of several different fly lodges in Virginia. Each of them specializes in their own type of fishing so check them out and see which one you like best!
Rose River Farms
Located in western Virginia, Rose River Farms allows you to fish private water. This spring-fed river allows you to catch big trout without having to jostle for a position with other anglers. On top of having their own private water they also have several luxury cabins available for rent.
Also located in Western Virginia, Angler’s Lane features several different cabins that are all on their own private section of the river. One house even has its own pond stocked with big rainbow and brook trout. Perfect for anglers of all ages.
Located in Southwest Virginia, Cedar Springs Sportsman’s Lodge has several different lodging locations. On top of this they also offer 2 miles of private river to fish and you’re also able to keep up to 6 fish per day. Stocked daily during the peak seasons, there is an abundance of fish.
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Table of Contents
- Why Fly Fish Virginia?
- Virginia Fly Fishing By Species
- Best Fly Fishing Spots in Virginia
- Virginia Fly Fishing Seasons
- Best Fly Fishing Lodges in Virginia
Virginia allows for year-round fly fishing. Even when the weather seems too hot for a fish to bite you can always hit up a spring-fed river for trout, or one of the larger mountain rivers for some great smallmouth fishing.
So, if you’re looking to get away and fish somewhere new then check out the Old Dominion state. Doesn’t matter what time of the year you want to come, chances are the fish are going to be biting.
So, book a trip at one of the lodges above or find your own spot. There are plenty of camping sites and hotels near major rivers and lakes in the state.