Updated: Jan 3
Trout fishing in the downtown of 'trout towns'
I learned to fly fish for trout during many visits to the Lake District in England in the 1990s. The trout fishing there is sublime, and most times we would break for a nice lunch accompanied by a pint of beer at a local pub. To be able to do so is very civilized, but you cannot often do that while fishing many of the streams in Virginia or Maryland, particularly if you are in Shenandoah National Park. However, I have discovered a few waters in urban environments where one can fish for trout and have a quick lunch break nearby for a burger and a beer and then go back to fishing.
Fishing for trout in downtown Luray, Virginia
One that I fished recently was Hawksbill Creek along the Greenway in Luray, Virginia. A fishing companion reached out to me in late January to say that the DWR had just stocked the creek with trout and he invited me to join him for a day trip to try our luck. We met early for breakfast at a coffee shop on Main Street that overlooked the Hawksbill and quickly got pumped by the sight of trout schooling in the current under the bridge.
Because of the Greenway and the pedestrian path that runs through it, approximately 1.5 miles of the Hawksbill is very accessible from Linden Avenue to Bulldog Field. There is also ample parking downtown as well as at remote lots along this stretch of water. This is catch and keep water (aka ‘put and take’), so the spin fishermen outnumbered us fly fisherman by a high multiple that day. Because I usually fish fly-only, catch and release water, I was a bit unprepared for the sheer numbers – and they were having more luck with their power baits and spinning lures. It was not my more successful outing for trout (note to self, bring the spinning rod next time), but at least there was a short walk for a burger and beer afterwards at a local café.
Fishing for trout in downtown Waynesboro, Virginia
Our local chapter of Trout Unlimited hosted a fly outfitter from Waynesboro to give a presentation regarding the South River that was very compelling. I learned that you could park and gear up in a downtown Waynesboro city lot, walk through the city park and straight into 2 miles of river teeming with trout, and that sounded awesome. But, when the DWR included the South River on its list of 8 destinations to try in 2021, I decided I had to check this off my bucket list.
I found the South River to be accommodating in that it was easily readable and held plenty of fish, particularly the stretch that parallels the Greenway trail between the former Dupont factory and W. Main Street. On a recent excursion, my companions and I parked in the immense Constitution Park by 9am and were on clear water with reasonable flow within 30 minutes. We had good initial success on the section just off the park, but when the action cooled down, we exited the water onto the Greenway and moved upstream to either a deep boulder pool, a meandering current abutting a string of rip-rap on the opposite shore, or a nice riffle. The South River offered a lot of these different conditions that made the water a very interesting fishing experience, and quite possibly the best urban trout fishing I have encountered. Best of all, because we were only a few blocks from the heart of downtown Waynesboro, we could strip off the waders at noon for a lunch break at a local tavern.
Fishing for trout in downtown Bellefonte, Pennsylvania
I made an excursion to Pennsylvania in 2020 to fish for trout at Spring Creek near State College. The highlight of the visit was fishing the Spring Creek in the town of Bellefonte, which is approximately 4 miles downstream (north) of the aptly named Fisherman’s Paradise. Here, the Spring Creek literally runs through the middle of the bustling village, with joggers and dog walkers waving to anglers from the pedestrian walkway that parallels the waterfront.
Wade fishing is permitted (but not from shore) along the section of Spring Creek bounded by the W. Lamb Street Bridge and the W. High Street Bridge, with ample parking provided off W. Lamb Street, east of the bridge. Despite being only a quarter of a mile, there are plenty of brown trout in that short stretch of water. There is also a short walk to a number of restaurants for a nice lunch break!