For the last few years, the Shenandoah Valley chapter of Trout Unlimited has been working with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries along with local landowners to open a new 4 mile section of special regulation water just outside of Waynesboro, VA. Several very large springs just above the upstream boundary of the new stretch keep the water temps trout friendly on a year round basis and the stream is full of insect life, sculpins and dace to keep the trout well fed. Studies have shown that the browns that have been stocked over the last couple years have shown tremendous growth rates and there are already some nice size fish in the stream.
This new fishery opened up on New Years Day and I was anxious to get out there and see it. I've been excited about the opening since I heard about it a few months back. Not only is it refreshing to see new water opening up amid the ever increasing trend of landowners locking down access, but it's also only about an hour and a half from Richmond. If all goes well, it will save me a lot of time and gas money.
I was hoping that New Years Eve festivities would keep most people home on opening day, but that didn't turn out to be the case. Plenty of other anglers made the trip and the stream turned out to be fairly crowded. The fishing was pretty slow - probably from all the pounding - but I managed to fool a few by swinging a soft hackle in front of them. Most of the trout are still pretty small and this fish is pretty typical. In a year or so, they should be nice size.
Things picked up considerably right before sunset and I picked up a better fish by slowly stripping a woolly bugger in a deep hole. Not a monster but not bad either, and not a bad way to start the year. My guess is that this fish was probably from last years stocking.
I really hope that all anglers follow the rules, respect private property and make the local community happy about this decision to open the stream. Nothing will get things shut down faster than a bunch of knuckleheads leaving trash all over the place or poaching the trout. I think the stream has a lot of potential and we need to take care of it.