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Virginia Fishing Report

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Shenandoah River Sponsored by
Date 09-Apr-15
Water Condition
Water Temperature  

Conditions : Shenandoah: Harry Murray, Fly guru Harry let me know that smallie fishing in the south fork of the Shenandoah is just fine. The water is clear, at a good level and 55 degrees. A Mad Tom Sculpin black size 6, or olive size 8, is a good bet. Water in the north fork is too high to wade, but not too high to float. Clarity and temperature is the same as in the south fork.

The trout streams in the Valley are giving good fishing just now. The water is clear, at a normal level for this time of year, and 47 degrees. Try a Mr. Rapidan Bead Head Nymph, size 14.

The brookie streams in the mountains are very high. It is best to hike up the mountains and follow the trailheads down. Good files are: Murray’s Mr. Rapidan Dry Fly, size14; a Murray’s Mr. Rapidan Delta Wing Caddis Olive, size 14; and a H. L. Dry Fly, size 14.

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About: - 2015 OUTLOOK - The South Fork and Mainstem Shenandoah River are known in angler circles as a “numbers” fishery, meaning anglers can expect to catch a reasonable amount of bass and sunfish on any given day. However, based on DGIF 2014 fall sampling it appears a disease/mortality event in spring 2014 greatly reduced numbers of Smallmouth Bass and Redbreast Sunfish. Abundance of adult Smallmouth Bass was well above the 18-year average in 2012 and 2013. The majority of these quality fish came from excellent spawning success in 2007. Unfortunately, fish disease episodes on the Shenandoah typically impact larger fish, and numbers were greatly reduced by the spring 2014 event. During fall 2014 fish population monitoring, biologists documented a fair number of Smallmouth Bass in the 9 – 11” range. These fish were from good spawning success in 2010 and should grow into the 11 – 13” range throughout the 2015 summer. There was also good spawning success in 2012, and these fish (7 – 9”) should start showing up to anglers using smaller baits. Spawning success was below average in 2008 and 2009, so even without the 2014 disease event there would be low numbers of 13 – 15” bass in 2015. Successful bass spawning in 2010 and 2012 should improve the fishing in upcoming years barring any future fish disease outbreaks. Spawning success of Smallmouth Bass in 2014 was excellent and was ranked second best over the last 18 years. These fish should really boost the population in the future. Overall, Smallmouth Bass fishing in the South Fork and Mainstem Shenandoah will be somewhat slow compared to recent years with a lack of larger (> 14”) fish. Anglers should also expect slightly lower catches of Redbreast Sunfish. Although catches for 2014 were much lower than recent years, they were close to the average catches from 1996 – 2006.

Anglers should not overlook Largemouth Bass, as this river harbors a quality population, and finding good numbers of 2 – 4 pound fish should not be difficult if deeper, slower sections with woody debris is targeted. Anglers again reported good musky catches and sightings in 2014 mostly in the longest and deepest pools. Channel Catfish in the 3 – 6 pound range are common, and anglers should concentrate on the lower South Fork and Mainstem. There is always the strong possibility of a mixed bag on the Shenandoah. Don’t be surprised if you catch quality-sized Pumpkinseed, Bluegill, Green Sunfish, Fallfish, Black Crappie, or even a Walleye (Mainstem).

Consistent spawning success should also aid in recovery of the North Fork Shenandoah in 2015. Although the North Fork didn’t seem to be impacted as much as the South Fork by the disease episode, there were reports of slightly fewer large fish. DGIF will investigate these reports in spring 2015. Anglers should mostly encounter Smallmouth Bass in the 9 – 12” range. However, there is always the possibility of encountering larger fish when fishing the best habitat. Fallfish are plentiful in some sections of the North Fork. They can exceed 14” and should not be overlooked. Anglers should also encounter adequate numbers of Redbreast Sunfish in most areas, Bluegill in deeper pools, and the opportunity to catch a quality-sized Largemouth Bass, Channel Catfish, or musky. Pool habitat is limited, so seek out deeper water when targeting these species. If you plan a float trip here, stick to spring and early summer, as low flows and dense underwater vegetation make fishing and navigation difficult later in the year.

Misc Info: -

Shenandoah River Flows
North/South Branch

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