“Wild thing, you make my heart sing…”

Wild Thing, The Troggs

Of course, the wild things we are talking about are trout. The Jackson River between Lake Moomaw and Covington is one of the few self-sustaining wild trout streams in Virginia. All of the trout in that stretch are spawned there. They live their entire lives there. There is no stocking.

“These are wild fish,” said Rob England of Appalachian Bronzeback Adventures.

England guides extensively on the wild trout section of the Jackson.

Rob England releases a brown trout on the Jackson (Photo: George Noleff/WFXR News)

“They live in this river their entire life, which makes them much stronger,” England added. “The colors and vibrancy of a wild fish, there’s no comparison to a stocked fish, so that makes it very special.

You can find rainbow, brook, and brown trout in that stretch of the Jackson, with browns dominating most of the numbers. Water flowing from Lake Moomaw keeps water temperatures low and oxygen levels high, just the way trout like it. Plus, the surrounding terrain is rugged and breathtakingly beautiful. Access is limited.

A high bluff on the wild trout section of the Jackson River (Photo: George Noleff/WFXR News)

Flyfishing, especially with streamers or nymphs, can be very effective. Conventional fishing with small crankbaits or spinners will produce fish, too.

The anglers who frequent this wild trout section have an almost sacred bond with the fish they pursue.

“We do catch and release out here on this river because I just can’t bring myself to keep wild trout, said guide and lure maker Dennis Perko. “It’s too special of a thing, especially here in Virginia where it’s so rare to have a river full of wilds.”