Updated: Sep 17, 2022
Dotted up and down the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia limestone springs are what provide a lot of the cold water to the area trout streams. Because these waters start in underground pockets in caves they are constantly running at 55 degrees, a great temperature for trout.
These streams run cooler in the summer and warmer than surrounding waters in the winter. If healthy, these springs produce consistent aquatic life through all seasons and actually offer a few chances for dry fly fishing even on the coldest of days.
It is the consistency of these streams, however, that can make them a blessing or a curse for even the most seasoned angler. Due to the consistent water temperatures, spring creeks have a tendency to actually produce less variation of macroinvertebrates than freestone streams in the area. Often the creek bed lacks a variety of structures so pools and ripples are not as much the norm. This lack of turbulent water makes most spring creeks long, smooth water with a seam or main channel that winds in between a lot water cress or duckweed.
Most of these waters are gin clear, making fish wary of overhead predators, especially on sunny days. To combat that most fish hug little pockets along banks or duck into little side channels in the weed beds. Knowing this, and reading the water correctly, we can narrow down exactly where most of these fish like to lay when they want to be comfortable, and comfortable usually leads to eating. It is imperative to make a few solid casts to these spots instead of several in the general area. Light tippet and proper line speed is necessary to catch these fish as they will seldom chase anything outside of their lanes.
Until you get the hang of this it might be a little daunting. If you want to mix up your time and try another technique, streamer fishing can produce some great results. Again, because of the constant temperature and food source, little fish get big. At about 14" or so many fish will switch from mainly eating small bugs to eating baitfish or crayfish in the stream. Big streamers can be thrown to these fish looking for some meat. Target any fallen trees, deep pockets, or ambush areas.
Spring creeks can make for some wonderful days or long ones. It offers some of the best winter and summer fishing, and the potential to catch some real large fish on small tackle. Fishing these streams will make you a better angler, even if you are humbled a bit at first. Just remember to take your time and make your casts count. As you move upstream slowly, you might even be able to sight other fish and know where to cast next.
Spring Creeks in the Shenandoah Valley include Mossy Creek and Buffalo Creek. Both need a free landowners permission license available at DWR.Virginia.Gov