Stream I love to fish | St. Mary's
Worth a visit even if you don’t fish…
Sometimes we have friends who aren’t as keen on fishing as I am, but they love the outdoors. When I think about places to go for a hike, the St. Mary’s Wilderness area is top of the list. It’s also a terrific place to fish. The St. Mary’s River flows through a beautiful canyon like area in the mountains and is one of the more scenic spots in the Old Dominion.
The St. Mary’s is near the town of Vesuvius. One way to get there is from I81/64 to exit 205. Take Route 606/Raphine Road to Route 56/Tye River Turnpike to 608/South Bottom Road-Cold Springs Road to St. Mary’s Road. There is a parking area at the end of the road. You can start fishing very near the parking area, but I prefer to hike in for a bit and start my serious fishing above Sugartree Branch.
Where to fish
The section from Sugartree Branch to the falls is really a beautiful area, and you will look around as much as looking at the water. It is a typical riffle-pool-run system, with plenty of open areas, making casting very easy and enough tight spots to make it challenging.
Depending on the water conditions, Sugartree Branch is worth looking in to. It is a reasonably steep gradient with a trail running alongside. You can take this trail up and around a section of the river and come out at the falls. You will cross a couple of small tributaries leading down to the river and the going can be steep and tangled. Think first before you blindly head down. This section is deep in the wilderness area so plan accordingly.
What flies work
A dry or dry-dropper rig works well; either Adams or BWO parachutes. For nymphs try a Pheasant Tail, Gold Ribbed Hare’s ear or Copper John. A few Quill Gordons, March Browns and Sulfurs for mayfly imitations; little black stoneflies, yellow sallies and some tan and olive caddis round out the assortment.
Fishing St. Mary’s is a commitment and can easily eat up a day. The numbers and size of fish in the St. Mary’s are fewer and smaller than the other rivers; however, the scenic nature of the canyon, more than makes up for it. It is a great hike and fish river, but you need to be sure you are up for it. Take some emergency gear, food and water with you. You may want to look at topo map to see what you are getting into.
If you go, let me know what you think.
I love that stream Tom. I have fished it twice. We should put it on the list to fish together some time this year.