South River

The South River flows through Waynesboro, Virginia and is the home water of SVTU.  The best flyfishing is in the  delayed harvest section in downtown Waynesboro.  From October 1 throught June 1, this is a catch & release only fishery.  If you are looking for a put-and-take section, head to Ridgeview Park. 
Don't let the fact that this is an urban fishery put you off.  The South River gets tremendous hatches all year.  Of special note is the sulphur hatch that begins in the evening from April to June.  There is also a terrific trico hatch from May through July.  Midges and BWOs keep the fish rising all winter.
The most popular section is right in downtown Waynesboro in Constitution Park.  There are a series of easily identified structures that SVTU put in with VDGIF.  Fish the pools and riffles below these structures, especially the fast water and the transitions between faster and slower water.  Another popular section is just a bit upstream.  Behind the YMCA there's a nice new parking lot and a blacktop path that goes all the way to Constitution Park.

See the South River Hatch Chart (developed by Tom Benzing) at the bottom of the page.

For more information and pictures of big browns caught in the South, see Fly Fish Waynesboro.


Those new fish are suckers for a peach egg pattern.  I also landed fish on a golden retriever and an olive soft hackle (and felt less guilty).  I caught better than a dozen 14" fish in Constitution Park.


The South River Fly Shop, WDD, The Speckled Trout B&B, and SVTU sponsored a supplementary trout stocking a week ago.  Here are the boys puttin in the fish.  Photos by Jim Heafner.


The state has put more fish in the Constitution Park area.  I hooked around 7 in about 2 hours,  All the fish were caught on the swing with eggs, a golden retriever, or a pheasant tail nymph.  Kevin Little reports that some of these fish are up to 15".  Also, the new black-topped greenway has been installed between C park and the Y upstream.  It makes access in between much easier!  It includes a new parking area, so you don't have to park behind the Y anymore.

I caught 5 trout in just a couple hours, right below where the Rife-Loth Dam was taken out.  This is really pretty water.  I was using a golden retreiver with a le bug dropper, mostly on the swing..  The last fish was big enough to break me off...
Update 10/24/11
I fished from behind the Y all the way to Constitution Park on Sunday.  I caught 1 trout.  But I did lose a BIG fish (at least 18").  This is pretty disappointing fishing for a fishery where you can usually count on at least  4 trout in a couple hours.  I caught nothing in CP in the usual places, even though there was a beautiful hatch of #16 dark brown caddis at about 6pm.
Update 4/30/2011
Sulphurs are now in full swing, hatching after about 5pm-dark.  This hatch is heavy but, currently, with few risers, perhaps due to slightly elevated water conditions.  To pull them up I've had more luck with the green drake emerger (May fly-of-the-month).  One of those big stocked brook trout jumped 2 feet out of the water and slammed it from above-- probably one of the most impressive strikes of my career!
Update 4/26/2011
Fish are rising to dry flies in Constitution Park, although I haven't seen our usual heavy sulfur hatch yet.  Try a #14 soft hackle in green on the swing while you wait for a rise.  I caught browns, bows, and even a 12" brook trout from the VAFFF kiddie tank from last week.  But I was outfished by  Justin, who caught 14 fish  with a #14 caddis pattern from South River Fly Shop.
UPDATE: 3/18/11
A midwinter stocking has vastly improved the fishing.  Reports are there are a ton of fish in the river.  There is good fishing upstream of Constitution Park (park behind the Y and walk into the grassy park where thruhikes stay.  Go past the short dames to where the spring comes in),  right in Constitution Park, and downstream near the second street bridge and North Park (10"-12" brook trout).  There are TREMENDOUS hatches of #14-12 light brown caddis from 3-5pm, but water is still a little too high for them to come up top.
There are a number of these large brookies in Constitution Park.  This one took a
#14 olive bead-head soft hackle, late April 2011.
SVTU member Urbie Nash supervising the installation of stream improvement structures to the
South River in 2008.  This is one of many SVTU coldwater conservation projects.


For a some history about mercury in the South River, the Delayed Harvest section, and the VA Fly Fishing Festival, see this article in March 2007 Chesapeake Angle Magazine.
-Take I-64 East to Exit 96(Waynesboro/Lyndhurst).
- Take a left off the exit ramp and head towards Waynesboro.
- Take a left at the first traffic signal onto Main Street(Rt. 250).
- Parking is available on either side of Main Street at Constitution Park once you cross the bridge over South River.
 A South River brown trout caught at the 2010 Virginia Fly Fishing Festival.
Jim Josefson,
Apr 25, 2015, 7:43 AM