Dry River

The Dry River is the longest brook trout stream in Virginia. I think it’s called the Dry River, because the stream bed is much bigger than the average flow and at least one point the stream disappears into the ground to fill the aquifer that is the souce of Beaver Creek. I’ve caught wild brook trout in Beaver Creek that supposedly get sucked down underground and spit back up into Ottobine. The Dry River is somewhat of a tailwater stream (but mostly a freestone waterway), as some of the water comes from the bottom release dam that forms Switzer Reservoir.

To get to the Dry RIver, just head out US 33 West of Harrisonburg. Once you get into the National Forest, you’ll see parking places at either side of the road. The river is on the left side. The sooner you park, the more likely you’ll find stocked rainbows and brookies. You are also more likely to find beer bottles, for the local citizens like to drink their 40ozs, place them in plastic bags, and hurl them through the trees of the steep banks into the water. It may be fun for them, but I find it reduces my pleasure. So bring a trash bag with you to the river, and help clean up the mess.

It’s nicer further on. Park out of the way of the gate at Dry River Rd. You’ll find the most beautiful wild brookies in here. And you are further away from the trucks barreling along 33.

Another option is to fish Switzer Reservoir (especially when the river is too high downstream), but you’ll have to climb a mile up the ridge for that, up to Skidmore Fork Rd. A biologist friend of mine shocked an 18″ brook trout near the inlet in the Fall. There is convenient canoe access. But more realistic is to fish the inlet upsteam from the lake where the road crosses the creek. The pool below the road and for a hundred yards has many fish. And upstream is positively infested with trout.

Fish every bit of pocket water and pool with a #16 elk wing caddis, X caddis, or sulphur in April and May. In May and June, try a Green Drake imitation, for those big bugs come off in such waves you’ll be humming the RIde of the Valkyries. My favorite is a #12 parachute emerger or a #10/ 12 parachute hare’s ear. And in June and July, if the water levels hold up, #18 ants or #16 beetles do the trick.

Update 5/11/2011
I fished upstream of Dry River Rd.and conditions were perfect. I caught around a dozen, with 2 nice ones around 10inches. My most successful tactic was an #14-16 X-Caddis (just a no hackle elk-wing caddis with an amber zlon tail to simulate a shuck) high sticked in riffles deeper than 2 feet.

Update November 2010
I fished the inlet to switzer reservoir one evening last week. It’s cold up there. The inlet wasn’t pumping in water, so there weren’t many fish trying to get upstream to spawn, but I still caught 2 very nice brook trout on golden retrievers. One was about 11″ and the other one was 13″- vey nice for brook trout, but not very colorful.


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