Monday, March 11, 2019

Dry River (A National Forest Gem)

Dry River is arguably one of the best Native Brook Trout fisheries in the State of Virginia.  The USGS and Forest Service Biologists have both stated it is one of the most densely populated Native Trout Streams in the Mid-Atlantic Region. Angler pressure can be heavy at times but if you are willing to get off the beaten path amazing opportunities await within the incredibly beautiful National Forest that surrounds this stream. 

Dry River is publicly accessible for over 14 miles along Route 33 above the small town of Rawley Springs. The water is also classified as a Category B Stocked Trout Stream. (More on that later)

One of the amazing things (of many) about Dry River is that the stream is fishable year around. Cold, Clean, Clear water is discharged from the base of Switzer Dam all year long and it shows with the size of the Natives that call the 14 mile stretch of water home. 

On recent trips, I have been rewarded each time with not only beautiful Brookies but large numbers successfully brought to the net. While I do often see signs of anglers, fishing the same spots as I do, I routinely can stack up double digit catch numbers within just a few hours of fishing.

Dry River also boasts an expansive floodplain for a stream its size which makes casting a long fly rod much easier. Keep in mind though, if heavy rains have plagued the area recently this probably is not your best option as it can be dangerous to wade in heavy flow conditions. 

Fly choices here can range from small streamers (if the water is up), dry flies, nymphs, or even the dreaded squirmy wormy if you are in the mood for the stockie action. My experiences here have shown me that typically the fish are not picky so there is no need for specialty flies. Get as close to what is hatching as you can with your fly and enjoy an incredible day on the water. The holdover stockies usually begin to take on characteristics of the wild fish after a few months so by summer they will be striking dry flies alongside the Brookies you are probably going here to catch. 
Ugly Stocked Brook Trout from January. Note the eroded tail and pale colors. 

Now onto the uglier side of Dry River, as I mentioned earlier Dry River is a Category B Stocked Trout Water. This essentially means it receives 5 stockings of Brook and/or Rainbow Trout each year. There have been many debates over the years regarding stocking hatchery raised trout into wild fish populations. While it is currently acceptable in Virginia and many other Mid- Atlantic States, I do not support the practice. These stockings create a great recreational fishery but do create the potential for the dilution of Native Trout Genes, introduction of diseases into the wild fish population, and also introduces invasive Rainbow Trout into a stream where Native Brook Trout thrive and belong. So if you happen upon a Rainbow Trout or 6 while fishing make sure to take them home with you for supper.


  1. How ridiculous to stock a good wild brook trout stream. I think they should do what they can to improve the wild brook trout population and put the stockers in some other stream.