St. Mary's River
The St. Mary's River is a freestone stream in Southeast Augusta County with a good population of wild brook trout. I've seen (but not caught) a brookie while snorkeling in one of the pools with my kids that must have been 14". The monster frankly scared me.
This is a popular hiking destination, and no wonder. Parts of the river are breathtakingly beautiful with the river slicing through beadrock hollows into deep pools. Go in late May or early June when the rhodies are blooming and you'll think you're in paradise. But the St. Mary's has had a turbulent history. Once an even more productive fishery in the 70s, by the 80s the stream's trout had almost been extirpated by acid rain. Repeated liming via helicopter has restored the fishery to something of it's former glory. But the river continues to be shaped by periodic flooding from hurricanes. Every year, the St. Mary's seems to get reshaped. See the St. Mary's VDGIF website for details.
You'll be tempted to just fish to the falls that all the hikers go to, but the best fishing may be above them. In spring, search every riffle and the tails of pools with any #16 mayfly or elkwing caddis. Fish small streamers nymph-style in the winter and swing them underneath the waterfalls in the heads of pools.
- From I-81 take the Greeville exit 213.
- Head South on US 11 through Greenville and about 4 miles beyond.
- Turn left onto Dabneys Rd.
- Turn left onto Rt 608.
- Turn right onto St. Mary's Rd. There's a parking area at the end of the road. Halfway there the road becomes