Location: Front Royal, VA – South Fork of Shenandoah
Result: 15+ Smallmouth Bass
Set-up: Fly Rod & Spinning Rod
Lures: Streamers and Crankbaits
I avoided Shad madness on the Potomac last Sunday to give the Shenandoah an early season try. One of my favorite fishing excursions is floating the Shenandoah by canoe for 5-7 miles and hopping out to fish the promising spots with the fly rod on the way. These trips often produce 40-50 SMB and the norm is generally 8-11 inch fish, with the occasional brute mixed in.
This trip was different. The large fish were very aggressive and preparing for the spawn. I had no idea the South Fork held fish like the ones we caught and the gin clear water enabled some explosive sight fishing on the fly. The fish pictured on the left below was sight fished and landed after throwing 10-15 casts right in front of its face. It was awesome.
We found most of our fish in the calm, deeper pools below fast moving water or rapids. Out of the 15+ fish landed, most averaged in the 13-15 inch range, and my buddy and I both landed fish that pushed 20 inches. I may regret posting this publicly, but despite the fish kills over the past couple of decades on the ‘Doah, I believe this river is a vastly underrated. See proof below –