Fishing for Solitude
Many of us want to be outside right now, and the benefits of fresh air, exercise, and sunlight are thought to positively contribute to our physical and mental health.
The health and safety of our citizens, our visitors, our employees, and our healthcare partners is our number one priority. Please act responsibly and follow all CDC, state and local guidelines to prevent the spread of infectious disease. Slowing the spread of coronavirus is everyone's responsibility. If you choose to go fishing, please limit your interactions only to those few people you know have been isolating themselves for the same period of time, and from the same exposures you have (this means the people who are living with you).
A River Runs Through It
Known for having some of Virginia’s best trout fishing, the South River benefits from cold-water mountain tributaries as it flows into downtown Waynesboro. In these waters you can expect to see (and hopefully catch) brown and rainbow trout, as well as warm weather species like smallmouth bass.
In Waynesboro there are several access points for fishing the South River, one of two urban trout fisheries in Virginia and a northward-flowing river.
Where to Fish
Three miles of the South River near Lyndhurst is fly-fishing and permit-only trout waters. It’s stocked annually with rainbow and brown trout, and any trout smaller than 20 inches must be released. Only one trout 20 inches or larger may be harvested per day from this stretch of river.
Ridgeview Park is an excellent place for children to fish as well as those who are unable to easily navigate the riverbanks or wade into the water. The accessible fishing pier includes benches and pole brackets to lend a hand. This section of the river is put-and-take stocked trout waters.
From Constitution Park you can pick up the South River Greenway Trail to find your perfect spot. The trail is currently 1.2 miles long and is expected to be extended another mile to North Park. The fly-fishing in the two-mile area between Wayne Avenue bridge and Second Street bridge is catch-and-release stocked trout waters. Only single hook artificial lure may be used.
Between April 1 and June 15 a quarter-mile stretch of South River within Basic Park is available for youth fishing only (15 and younger). Trout are stocked here as well, and a creel limit of three trout per day applies.
Sherando Lake Recreation Area includes two lakes – upper and lower- within George Washington National Forest. Both are stocked with rainbow and brook trout. Fish both here and South River to get a sense for how the fish behave differently in a lake versus quick currents.
Remember that there are currently no open restrooms. Make wise choices during your river activities so that our local Emergency Rescue teams do not have to put themselves at further risk.
Shenandoah Valley Trout Unlimited (SVTU) works with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to create stream improvement structures. Such underwater structures offer fish a place of rest from a fast current, as well as areas to hide, spawn, and feed. In November 2019 SVTU nested 10,000 brown trout eggs into Whitlock-Vibert boxes, which were caged and lowered into South River. By January 2020 SVTU estimated 50% of the eggs hatched, which is considered a success.
Need a Guide?
When in doubt, or when you want to learn something new, contact a guide. South River Fly Shop is not only an outfitter, but they also offer guide service for fishing our local streams. Learn to fly fish with a master. Choose South River or Shenandoah National Park for half-day or full day experiences in and near Waynesboro.
In addition to a Virginia Freshwater Fishing License, a special Trout License is required October 1 through June 15. No more than six trout may be harvested per day, and each must meet a seven-inch length minimum. Visit www.gooutdoorsvirginia.com for more information on obtaining the proper licensing online.
Stay home if you are sick. Avoid crowded areas (this includes parking lots!) Keep at least six feet away from other people at all times, as COVID-19 is a highly transmittable disease.
Practice social distancing; wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze; avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; most importantly, please stay home if you feel sick.