Fishing Passage Creek

One of Northern Virginia’s premier fly fishing destinations for anglers looking to escape the city without a lengthy drive. This is a great stream to teach a buddy how to fly fish for trout!

CREEK INFO

Fished on January 2nd, 2017
Near Front Royal, VA Passage Creek is maintained by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

Passage Creek is a 38 mile stream that runs down the Fort Valley between Massanutten and Green Mountains (This area is widely known as the Elizabeth Furnace Recreation Area). There are three sections of the stream that are stocked by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Paul and I chose to fish the upper reaches of the stream in Warren County that the state manages as a delayed harvest stream. Delayed harvest streams are stocked by the state and designated as a catch and release only stream from October-June 15. Check the state’s website to learn more about how fisheries are managed throughout the state.

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Paul casting to a picky trout.
GETTING THERE

From Fredericksburg, it’s a quick run up 17 to 66 that will take you about an hour and a half from door to stream. You’ll park on the shoulder of Mountain Road shortly after crossing Passage Creek. You’ll know you’re there when you see the fish hatchery.

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Gorgeous creek beds provide ample hiding places for trout.
WEATHER/CONDITIONS

Strasburg, VA on January 2nd, 2017

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OUR PREP/GEAR

Paul and I both fished 9′ 4wt outfits. Paul spent the day switching rigs to find the perfect fly, everything from the Golden Retriever to a soft hackle wet fly. I stuck to a dry fly-dropper setup that involved a Stimulator trailed by a Hare’s Ear nymph size 18 for most of the day, switching later to a Copper John Size 20.

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My 9′ 4wt Orvis Clearwater Rod

FISHING NOTES

The day started off slow for us both. The first pool that we approached, upstream of the hatchery, was filled with trout. I counted at least three dozen trout schooled up, waiting for the perfect bug to float by. Paul gave me first go, and after 15 minutes of perfect drifts with no takers, it seemed like it might be a long day. We followed the stream North, looking for pools holding fish, and came up empty handed despite seeing fish throughout the stream. After that, we split up, and I made my way back to the first pool, where I finally managed to land three gorgeous trout (two browns, and one lovely rainbow). Two of my fish took the dropper, but to my delight, the brown trout pictured below was eager to take a dry fly. Unfortunately, that was the extent of our success for the remainder of the day.

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A healthy Brown Trout after release.

Most fly-fisherman will tell you that regardless of what you bring to the net, any day on the river is a good day, and that was certainly true of our first trout hike of 2017. Paul had been to Passage Creek before, but I had not, and I enjoyed exploring the gorgeous scenery, and even some of the oddities.

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Great patterns in the shale formations that surround Passage Creek.
OUR FAVORITE BITS
  • Ringing in the New Year on the water with a good friend.
  • Water levels and quality conducive to great fishing.
  • Remembering to stash hand warmers in my shirt pockets.
  • Finding a preserved snake in the window of the fish hatchery.

~Fergus

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