One of Virginia's premiere limestone
spring creek offers anglers outstanding
trophy brown trout fly fishing year
Nestled in the Northern corner of
Virginia lies one of the state's
most unique cold water, fly fishing
treasures, Mossy Creek. Tucked away
in the Allegheny Highlands, this
spring creek offers anglers approximately
three miles of outstanding public
fly-fishing only water.
The identifying characteristic
of Mossy, which makes it stand out
from other trout streams in the
state, is that it is limestone based.
Fed by a large limestone spring
near Mount Solon, the stream meanders
its way slowly through private cow
pastures and farm lands. Characterized
by clear, aquatic vegetation filled
waters, this 15-foot wide stream
is reminiscent of the popular limestone
spring creeks of central Pennsylvania.
Although Mossy creek is a quality
trophy brown trout stream today,
it was once a less than desirable
fishing destination. The stream
had suffered from the effects of
the local cattle farms which surround
it. During the mid-1970's, Trout
Unlimited took notice of Mossy Creek's
state and began a program to enhance
the stream to its full potential.
This joint program between land
owners and TU included building
fences to help keep livestock out
of the stream and constructing wooden
turnstiles to facilitate anglers
crossing fences without harm.
Mossy Creek is currently listed
as a trophy trout stream with the
Virginia Department of Game and
Inland Fisheries (VDGIF); thus it
only requires a state fishing license
and not an additional Virginia trout
fishing license. Furthermore, a
signed land owner permit is also
required, and must be carried in
the angler's possession while fishing.
These permits can be obtained for
free by sending a self addressed,
stamped envelope to VDGIF, Verona
Office, P.O. Box 996, Verona, VA,
Angling on Mossy Creek is restricted
to fly-fishing only with a single
hook, artificial fly. The creel
limit is one fish greater than 20
inches per day. All fish measuring
less than 20 inches must be released
immediately without harm back into
the water. No bait may be possessed
on the water, and anglers are not
allowed to wade while fishing. Anglers
should read and adhere to these
rules and all others printed on
the back of the landowner permit.
A good, all-around rod for fishing
dry flys, nymphs, and streamers
on this stream should consist of
a four to six weight rod in the
nine to 10 foot length paired with
a sturdy reel loaded with plenty
of backing. Longer rods are a must
to get the casting distance and
drift one needs to tempt Mossy's
big brown trout into taking a fly.
Jim Finn, owner of Mossy Creek Fly
Shop, suggests another alternative
by using one of the modern one weight
rods when fishing dry fly hatches.
Finn commented, "I fish a one
weight because the line hitting
the water doesn't hit much heavier
Leaders should be hefty enough
to fight a trophy class fish, as
well as long enough not to spook
the fish. Anglers should also carry
a long handled net since Mossy has
a no wading rule, and landing fish
can be difficult. Due to high grass
and marshy banks, a pair of hip
waders are a must when navigating
the stream despite the no wading
Choosing flies for Mossy creek
depends greatly on the time of year
you plan on visiting the stream.
Due to the cold water makeup of
Mossy creek, predictable hatches
come off throughout the year. Finn
relayed that, "Trico's begin
around Memorial Day and are done
by Halloween, Sulfers happen from
mid-spring through mid-summer, and
small Blue Wing Olives come off
just about all year round".
Anglers fishing during these times
of year should prepared to match
the hatch with size 14 to 24 flys.
The summer and early fall months
at Mossy are when grasshopper, and
cricket patterns are a must have.
Surrounded by open, grassy fields,
the stream offers prime opportunities
to cast imitation terrestrials amongst
the real McCoys. Larger hopper and
cricket patterns, especially parachute
variations in sizes six to 12 in
the 3X length, work well and are
easy to view.
Other good bets at Mossy are streamer
patterns. "The biggest baits
in Mossy are sculpins and crawfish",
explained Finn. Mimicking these
baits is a good way to catch some
of Mossy's larger trout. Muddler
Minnows, Woolley Buggers, and Crawfish
patterns in sizes four to 12 are
good choices to fish the deeper
pools and channels.
Nymphs can be tough to fish at
Mossy due to the plentiful grasses
of this limestone stream. When fishing
them, focus on open channels, and
deeper pools. Productive patterns
include small pheasant tails, prince
nymphs, and brassies.
A majority of Mossy's fish range
from eight to 15 inches, but the
potential to catch fish exceeding
20 inches is definitely there. Anglers
should practice up on their dry
fly drifts before heading to Mossy.
The large grass beds, and no-wading
rule make drift quite difficult
in places, however, with a longer
rod the stream is open to back casts.
When fishing Mossy, anglers should
look for rising fish on the surface
and try to match the hatch. If surface
action isn't happening, try probing
the deeper pools, undercut banks,
and channels with streamers, wet
flys, or nymphs.