Virginia Fishing Tales: A wade on the Lower Jackson River

Lower Jackson VA Fishing Tales
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It has been a long Spring and a long Summer. After taking this new position as WFXR’s sports director, my outdoor opportunities have been limited. Yes, I was able to get out and Spring turkey hunt a lot with NWTF’s Michael Pauley. That was a eye opening experience and we were able to do an awesome story. This summer I was able to venture out on Smith Mountain Lake to catch a striper or two. But other than a short trip on the Smith River, I’ve been very disappointed with my time management when it comes to fly fishing in Virginia. Now that football season is here, I couldn’t be more busy but with my off days being Monday and Tuesday I’ve made it a goal to get out twice a month. The outdoors brings a certain peace of mind and relaxation I can’t find anywhere else. I have to recharge and for me getting out on a river with a fly rod in my hands gets me to where I need to be to keep going.

So this last weekend I text my Virginia fishing buddy Matthew Thomas, a guy who also happens to be an Orvis guide…ya lucky me!, and told him I had to get out. Matt lives in Hot Springs and guides year around for The Homestead. The man has the life. Free gear, free certification and free fly fishing trips that he gets paid for. I’m not quite sure what he gets out of being friends with me. I need to start bringing something to the table for sure. So Matt suggest we get out near Covington to wade the Lower Jackson–his favorite part of the river. We park up by Indians Draft and walk down the road to get down to the river to start wading back up to our parking spot. Within minutes, I see fish rising.

Matt says this time of the year fishing can be tough with the water being so low but it’s never impossible. We rig our rods up with a couple of nymphs. I use a Prince and a Copper as my dropper and we start seeing what we can get into. It took seconds for my brain to shutoff and relax from life’s stresses and responsibility. Rather than thinking about how I’m going to spread out resources to cover our region’s Friday night football, I find myself completely consumed on my casting. my line mending and see where the current is slow and fast. In no time, we start getting into some trout.

So it’s not a huge trout. But I’m tellin’ you just like life, you have to appreciate the small things because life can be rough. You need to take the time to appreciate those little things that add up to huge blessings. What I love about this young ‘bow is what is known as “par marks” on it’s side. Those are marks that will fade as it grows older. You can start to see the color really coming in. But, yeah I wasn’t fulfilled with catchin’ this guy. So on to the next one.

Finally a trout I can be proud of. So here’s the thing a lot of people don’t understand about fishing for trout and fly fishing in general. What we do is try to present a nymph or fly the exact way it would be found in nature. This is not easy. It’s much different than a spin rod just casting over and over again. That way is more about quantity. Our way is more about quality, presentation and patience. So any trout you’re able to get out of the water is awesome. You’re doing something right. You have the right drift. You have the right presentation. It’s a great thrill for me. Even for Matt, a certified Orvis guide, it’s an awesome thing. To see someone who spends his life doing this be so thrilled to get a fish on or to be with someone who has success, makes you realize how hard of a task it is to fly fish. But even more so to be able to get a “wild” trout, it’s even better. These stocked fish are just hungry and don’t know any better. Stocked fish are stupid. I’m going to be honest here, I don’t like fishing for stocked trout. It’s not a challenge. One of my friends always brags about his stocked fish and I’m telling you right now, there’s nothing easier in the world than getting a stocked trout. But to fool a wild trout in to going after your rig, it’s a great accomplishment.

Wading the Lower Jackson was a success. We hooked into quite a few trout and while the hogs never came, the quality of colors and trout were great. Matt and I accomplished a lot on Monday but most importantly, we recharged and got outside. If you ever need help getting started with fly fishing, fishing or hunting just email me at and I’ll point you in the right direction.

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