Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley is a fisherman’s paradise. From wild trout to lurking musky, fish are plentiful. Tucked away in this lush valley, the legendary Mossy Creek holds some of Virginia’s greatest and toughest trout fishing. Monster brown trout lay hidden in the heavy weeds and undercut banks of this meandering spring fed creek. These elusive fish are wary of fishermen and are not often eager to take ones fly. I have spent multiple days completely humbled by these fish without so much as a bite. Persistence can pay off and the reward can be well worth the wait.
With dense vegetation lining the stream, nymphing can prove a frustrating endeavor. Many anglers, myself included, prefer an aerial approach. Abundant terrestrials and sporadic hatches can provide excellent dry fly fishing opportunities. Most of my success on this creek has come from casting dry flies to sighted fish. The vegetation and river hydrology make for very short drifts, so I tend to aim my casts just above the nose of the trout. When there are no bugs coming off the water and no fish in view, running a streamer along the undercut banks is recommended. This can be especially effective in higher flows and murkier water. Regardless of technique, these fish have see many flies and are wary of imposters. A stealthy approach is essential or a shot at a fish could be lost before the fly touches the water. It is best to keep a low profile while walking along the bank, tread lightly, and watch out for the cows. Also, it should be noted that wading and fishing after dark is not permitted.
Photo contributions: Charlie Church