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Middle River 2023; A Year to Remember

What an official second year for Middle River Outfitters! My goals for MRO were more than exceeded and I can't wait to see what 2024 brings. This last year started on a snowy day with two mothers and their sons sticking out cold water and 30 degrees to all catch a fish. Though we left shivering, it was a trip to remember. Of course, three days later it was 60 degrees and we were off to a wonderful Spring. We welcomed our first international traveller from Italy for a week long trip here in Staunton. Michele was fantastic and we caught everything from tiny mountain brooks, to spring creek rainbows and browns. Michele also caught his first smallmouth on a float trip and a golden trout in West Virginia.

Man holding a golden trout
A West Virginia Golden

The year proceeded and we got busier and busier! In addition to guide Dave Sisson, we added Teri Beasley and Chase Killingsworth to the team. We also expanded our operations to include over a mile of private trout stream and a private pond perfect for teaching kids and beginners. In total we stocked over 1,000 trout, 500 panfish, and 100 largemouth bass for our clients (and local heron) to pursue. We had many successful trips including the one below:

I love this picture because although the young man caught the most fish during that day, he was made "net boy" when Mom, Dad, and Little Sister all hooked up and landed fish at the same time. Needless to say this was a wonderful memory for me and hopefully something they all remember over the years.

The year was not without it's troubles though. After a rainy Spring it seemed as if the spigot was turned off. Shenandoah Valley experienced one of it's worst droughts on record and fishing from July on became very difficult. We did continue to have success smallmouth fishing on the Shenandoah River, but low water made it essential for long, accurate casts and fish just got more and more spooked as the Summer dragged on. I always think a day on the river is good, even if fishing is bad, but watching fish swim away from the boat or even a fly can get discouraging.

Worse yet, we usually get some reprieve by September and October, but the rains never came. Shenandoah National Park was closed to fishing to protect brook trout population and we were relegated to fish only our private stream outside of Staunton. Having that mile stretch really paid off, however, as we were able to rest pools and sections of stream so the fish didn't get too beat up and people still had plenty of opportunities to catch fish. We made it through November with plenty of fish still holding and finally some rain to fill the streams.

What's Next For 2024?

We definitely have some exciting plans and more growth ahead for this next year. I shake my head sometimes when I think of all the "glamorous" side work that comes with being a guide. We will continue to expand and improve our private streams in Staunton and Nelson County. New trails to cut, habitat improvement to make, and more stockings to organize and prepare for the Spring. We are also in negotiations for adding another stream or two, both being spring creeks, which could provide opportunities for trout fishing in the Summer. We now have three boats in the fleet, and have partnered with a couple other guides to offer trips from the Eastern slope of SNP to Bath and Highland Counties. 2024 should offer both challenges and opportunity to MRO and I am very much looking forward to it. That is the day to day work while not being on the water, but here is the real glamorous side of being a guide, sometimes we fish, too:

Man holding large silver fish
Tarpon In Key West

Man on a boat holding a fish
Bonefish in Mexico

Man in water holding a trout
Large Rainbow from Our Private Stream

If you want to make fly fishing part of your 2024 we'd love to help. From Beginner Lessons and Half Day Trips to Float Trips and Inclusive Weekends, Middle River Outfitters caters to you. Click below and let us help you make the New Year memorable.


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