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Fly Fishing on the Shenandoah River VA for Smallmouth Bass; A Summer Angler's Destination

Updated: May 15

Fly fishing on the Shenandoah River is a popular activity for anglers seeking to catch fish in the beautiful scenery of Virginia. The 56-mile South Fork of the Shenandoah River is especially renowned for its smallmouth bass fishing, which can be caught using a variety of fly patterns. Using a fly that resembles a small bait fish, crayfish, or popper fly will be most successful to hook a big one. A streamer thrown on a five or six weight fly rod will handle most fish besides musky. A floating fly line is all you need depth wise as the fish sit right behind the riffles and off of ledges. Largemouth, musky, carp, and several varieties of sunfish can also be found in sections of the river, making it a great destination for a variety of fishing experiences. Overall, the Shenandoah River offers an excellent getaway for fly fishing enthusiasts of all skill levels and we can work with you.

A Bass Getaway on the Shenandoah.

We have two types of bass on the Shenandoah, smallmouth and largemouth, which are two of the most sought-after game fish species in freshwater fishing. Smallmouth are typically found in cooler, clearer waters and have a more streamlined body shape than largemouth bass. They are known for their aggressive feeding behavior and powerful fights, often jumping out of the water in an attempt to throw the hook. Largemouths, on the other hand, are commonly found in warm, shallow waters and are known for their ambush tactics, hiding in weeds and other cover to surprise their prey. Largemouths can grow to be much larger than smallmouths and are often targeted by anglers in tournaments and other competitive fishing events. Both species offer unique challenges and rewards for anglers, making them highly prized catches in freshwater fishing, especially on a fly.

Access Points on the South Fork of the Shenandoah River

Anglers can access the river at various points throughout the area, including public access points by Department of Game and Inland Fishes, as well as private outfitters that offer guided trips and rentals. Shenandoah National Park also parallels the river to the east, making the Shenandoah Valley a place for summer recreation or a great getaway. There are also several fly shops in the area for supplies and gear. Rafting and kayaking are popular ways to explore the river and reach more remote fishing spots. You can also take a nice swim in a big pool, just watch out for catfish nibbling your toes.

I have always loved the thrill of floating along the river. There is nothing quite like the feeling of rushing through the water, hitting a rapid, and be surrounded by the natural beauty of the Shenandoah Valley. As I glide along the creek, I can't help but be amazed by the variety of wildlife that calls the river home - from playful otters to soaring bald eagles. One of my fondest memories is when I was floating down the river with some friends and we spotted a group of deer grazing on the riverbank during a sunset. It was a truly magical moment that reminded me of the incredible natural beauty of this area. The appeal of boating arrives as the stream temperature warms and the brook trout fishing slows. Smallmouth fishing fever arrives for me around Memorial Day, and continues until October. Year round bass on the Shenandoah are a bit tougher, and musky fishing is winter time for us.

Fly Fishing From a Drift Boat Along the River Valley

For fishing in the Shenandoah there are many ways to explore the river, including kayaks, canoes, and rafts. Personally, I prefer using a small, inflatable boat that allows me to navigate even the smallest rapids with ease. Wading the South Fork of the river is a little tougher, but check with the Virginia Department of Game for public access, parks, and ramps that give you access to Virginia's only river that flows north upstream. Reward yourself and cast a line to some smallies and go fly-fishing with a beautiful backdrop. It's an unforgettable experience that I would recommend to anyone who loves the outdoors. If you're looking for an adventure as a beginner or for many anglers, river fishing on the Shenandoah will fit the bill. The basics are easy and a nice retrieve are all that's necessary for some action-packed excitement.

Middle River Outfitters, the Valley's Premier Guide Service. Give us a call to float or wade this historic warm water fishery.

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