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When most people think of limestone spring creeks, they think of Pennsylvania and Montana. Virginia also has a superb spring creek, though, with special Fly-Fishing Only regulations in effect and a good population of wary brown trout. It is called Mossy Creek and it is located in Augusta County in the northwestern part of the state. Only two trout a day may be kept here and they must be over 16 inches.
This stream has all the trappings of a limestone creek high alkalinity, a rich food supply, heavy weed growth and fast growing trout. Browns are stocked as fingerlings of one and a half inches and reach seven inches in five months. A few rainbows and brookies are also present, but most fish are browns, which always seem to thrive in meadow limestone streams. The average trout you catch will run eight to 14 inches, but plenty of 16 to 24 inch fish are also available.
You can take fish on big Woolly Buggers, Zonkers and Whitlock Sculpins, as well as nymphs in winter. From spring through fall, these flies continue to produce and terrestrials also come into their own during this period. Ants, jassids, crickets, hoppers and beetles are all good. These are wary fish, though, and a long leader tapering to a 5X to 7X tippet is required for the dry fly fishing. The banks are mostly open and grassy so a stalking approach pays off. Watch for rises or for fish finning languidly near weedbeds or overhanging banks in the crystalline flow, then sneak or even crawl into position and make your presentation.
A state fishing license and trout stamp are required to fish Mossy, as well as a special free permit. It’s available from landowners along the creek, or from Larry Mohn, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (*). Send a self addressed, stamped envelope to that address and they will get your Mossy Creek permit back out to you. Also ask for a map showing the stream and the parking areas near it.
Directions to the creek are complicated so make a copy of what follows. Start by going south of Harrisonburg on Interstate 81 to the Mt. Crawford Exit (Hwy 257). Follow the signs to Bridgewater. From there, go south on Hwy 42 for several miles and then bear right at the sign that says "To 747." At this point you will be on County Road 809. Continue on until it merges into 747. Take this to County Road 613 and bear left. Go several hundred yards past the Mossy Creek Presbyterian Church and you will come to a parking area on the left.
As for lodging, there is a Holiday Inn at Harrisonburg, as well as a Howard Johnson’s and Sheraton. For guiding, contact Harry Murray’s Fly Shop (*). Murray also offers trout fly fishing schools on Mossy during the summer that you may want to check out. He is an excellent instructor. Another possibility for guide service is Mossy Creek Outfitters (*). This company has an excellent reputation for introducing people to the challenges of spring creek fishing, Virginia-style. Austin Jennings.