Virginia’s Fly-Fishing Trail

Published on March 11, 2015
Written by Ray Access

Rainbows, browns and brookies… oh my!

Mountain areas are typically great for fishing — not necessarily because of the fish, but because of the diversity. The Blue Ridge Highlands of Southwestern Virginia ( is such a place. Whether you like catching smallmouth bass in established rivers, muskies in warmwater lakes, or wild rainbow trout in ambling cold-water creeks, you can find it here.

The best fishing follows the waterways on both sides of Interstate 81 as it cuts through the Southwestern corner of the state, where the Appalachian Mountains continue from North Carolina and Tennessee. From the New River (ironically, one of the oldest rivers in the world, second perhaps to the Nile) to Little Wilson Creek, the fishing is as plentiful as it is diverse.

Fly-Fishing on Lakes and Rivers

If you are just learning the art of fly-fishing or prefer a more leisurely day, the wide open spaces provided by lakes and wide rivers gives you the chance to practice and still catch fish. Lakes and rivers are easily reachable, offer handicapped access and are the prefect places to teach your kids and grandkids.

The New River (pictured to the right) has smallmouth and largemouth bass, walleyes and muskies. In fact, the state record catch is a 15-pound, 15-ounce walleye pulled from the New River. Beartree Lake is stocked with trout — rainbows, browns and brookies. It’s best from mid-July to late September.

Laurel Bed Lake is stocked with trout several times a week, but it’s a beautiful spot to catch your dinner. Rural Retreat Lake, a warm water lake, offers a variety of species. It’s a great place for the entire family to fish.

Fly-Fishing on Creeks and Runs

If you love fly-fishing, you gravitate toward the streams and creeks… and the more rocks and overhangs in the way, the better the challenge. The Blue Ridge Highlands area provides ample opportunities. Fox Creek runs along Route 603, making it easy to get to. It’s also a fun fly-fishing spot for you and the kids.

The North Fork of the Holston River winds and pools through the region. You can catch smallmouth bass, but not to eat because of past pollution. August is the best time to fish here. Meanwhile, the South Fork of the river is just a spring-fed stream where brown and rainbow trout entice fishermen. The new 2.5-mile Buller Gorge Trail has opened up some great fishing.

Whitetop Laurel Creek skirts the Appalachian Trail. Hike or mountain bike in to the best fishing spots, and be ready to catch rainbows, browns and brookies at Virginia’s premier trout stream. At Grayson Highlands State Park, though, may be the best place of all for small-creek fly-fishing. From Big Wilson Creek to Cabin Creek, you can find wild rainbows and brookies in some of the wildest, most beautiful scenery imaginable. Camp there to make it a true wilderness adventure.

Fly-Fishing in Virginia

The Blue Ridge Highlands offer Virginia’s best fly-fishing trails in the region. Hiking, biking, boating, kayaking, camping and horseback-riding are all other activities the area supports. So whenever you’re ready for a fly-fishing vacation, head to Southwestern Virginia. “Virginia is for lovers” and for lovers of fly-fishing.

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