South West Virginia Trout Trip

by Aaron Ball

Lucky for me, I have some friends who are almost as crazy as I am when it comes to fishing. I casually mentioned to my friend Brian that I was looking at going to Cripple Creek to chase citation trout while I was on my upcoming vacation and with no hesitation, he said he wanted to go also. A quick check with Cedar Springs Sportsmen Lodge on open availability and our tripped was booked! 

After an early wake up of 3am, I grabbed two of my JB Custom Spinning Rods, hopped in Brian’s truck, and we were rolling down interstate 81 on the way to Cripple Creek. The long drive down 81 led to a lot of fishing conversations, and I casually joked what would happen if we were done fishing after only being there an hour. That however, would not turn out to be the case.

We started out on the lower end of the river section and I started out with a small Blue Fox spinner bait, while Brian was drifting a small salmon egg. As I slowly worked my way up the river, fishing several promising holes without a sniff, ice building in my guides, the small doubt began to creep into my head. Eventually I got to a little hole with a tailrace at the head and swapped to a smaller spinner. I positioned myself at the head of the hole, casted my spinner into the current, and let the small blade work through the tailrace.  Then, out of nowhere, a silver submarine rose up and inhaled the spinner. The fish came to the surface, thrashing around, and I carefully worked it to the bank where I slipped the net under it. There it was, laying in front of me, a big beautiful rainbow trout. I knew that it was a good sized fish, but I did not want to get my hopes up. I hung the fish off my Rapala scale and the scale read 4.26 pounds! I temporarily forgot my hands and feet were frozen, there it was Citation species #12 for me, and the entire reason I got up at 3am and drove three hours! I positioned myself back at the head of the hole and made another cast into the current and fish #2 rose up and inhaled the spinner. A quick fight to the bank and another rainbow hit the net.

Brian and I worked our way up to the next hole, and there were several large trout laying in there but they were not interested in our offerings. I made a switch to a bait I figured the trout had not saw before, a 2.8 inch Keitech swimbait on a ballhead jig. This is a bait that I would frequently catch trout back on in Pennsylvania while smallmouth fishing, and I figured would work here. After a few casts I felt the knock and set the hook. An absolute goliath of a trout came torpedoing out of the water and tossed the hook. We continued up the river and I managed to pick up two more Rainbows up the river on the small swimbait. One being another beautiful citation and one that hit the swimbait several times before eventually eating it six inches off the bank. 

Brian fished hard all day switching between the salmon egg, a small spinner, and a Megabass jerkbait designed for trout fishing. After several strikes on the jerkbait he managed a really nice Rainbow trout on a salmon egg that we watched cruise up and smash the bait. 

My main rod for the day was a JB Custom Rod Trick Spin that I paired with a quantum smoke reel. I used ten pound power pro super slick braid with an 8 pound Seaguar fluorocarbon leader.  I’m still looking for a citation Brooke Trout and a Brown Trout. If anybody has any suggestions on where to chase these fish you can reach me at or on my Instagram @Psuaaron

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