George Washington National Forest


George Washington National Forest has many excellent fishing opportunities. Check specific ranger districts for details. Here are some of the highlights...

Of all six districts, Warm Springs is probably the one most anglers would want to head for. Lake Moomaw is renowned for its excellent fishing, yielding citation size brown and rainbow trout. The best fishing for these trout is January through June. Fishing success decreases during the summer months when water is low and water temperatures are higher. Many fish are caught from the bank, so a boat is not necessary. The lake also offers very good bass fishing, excellent pan fishing, and good crappie fishing. Keep in mind, fishing is better some years than others. The water is very clear and fish can be spooky and hard to catch. Night fishing can be very successful in the summer.

The Jackson River offers a very diverse trout fishing opportunity. Special regulations exist on certain stretches of the river, so fishermen should obtain a copy of the state fishing regulations. North of Lake Moomaw, the Hidden Valley and Poor Farm stretches of the river offer excellent fishing for stocked trout. Very popular with fly-fishermen is the three-mile stretch between Poor Farm and Muddy Run. This area is accessible only by walking and has special regulations (only single hook artificial lures may be used and there is a 12-inch minimum size limit).

Back Creek is a cold water fishery offering opportunities for both the bait and fly-fisherman. Laurel Fork, the northernmost stream in the district, offers an opportunity to catch native trout.

The Cowpasture River features a warm-water fishery. Here is an opportunity to hook bass and perch. The river flows through the Walton Tract where a canoe can be used to fish or just enjoy the scenery.

The Pedlar District is not to be sneezed at. The Pedlar River is a seasonally stocked trout stream that winds through the mountains, featuring numerous small falls and deep pools. There are several small dispersed camping areas along the river.

It can be reached by traveling east on U.S. 60 into Amherst County. After crossing beneath the Blue Ridge Parkway into Amherst County, continue on U.S. 60 for approximately three miles to the intersection with SR 605 and FDR 39. To follow the upper Pedlar River, turn left onto SR 606 and continue north. To follow the lower Pedlar River turn right onto FDR 39 and continue south.

James River has two fishing highlights. Fortney Branch offers a four-lane boat launch, courtesy dock, drinking water, toilet facilities, and parking. Enjoy bank fishing or hiking the trails available along the lake and nearby. Exit I-64 at Covington (Exit 16). Take US 220 north for four miles. Take SR 687 northwest for three miles. Take SR 641 west one mile. Take SR 666 north for five miles. Follow the signs left about one mile to the boat launch. There is a fee for parking.

The Jackson River has five access points available below Gathright Dam. The first access point is just below the dam spillway, off SR 605, and is managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers. The second is Johnson Springs, off SR 687. The third, Falling Springs (under construction) is off SR 721. The fourth is Indian Draft, located off SR 687. The fifth is Petticoat Junction, off SR 687. Fishing or canoe launching is allowed at these access points, but not from the surrounding private land. All access points are signed and parking is available at most sites.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 14 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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