01/02/09

Destinations:
Since this is the holidays, most of you will probably be staying home or visiting friends and family
during the next four days. I doubt that many of you will be traveling to and fishing the Smokies
although I hope you do.  January and the first part of February is probably the coldest time of the
year and you will have to pick out the better days to expect much success fishing the freestone
streams. By the end of February, everyone will be doing their best to force the bugs to hatch and
the trout to respond even though they will probably have to wait a few more days to see any
surface action. That considered, I thought I would write about some fishing trips we have made
to various other destinations. Don't expect these articles to win any awards, just tell you about
some things I hope you will find interesting and a few that I look back on with a gleam in my eye.

Fly Fishing the Jackson River, Virginia

The story of the Jackson River tailwater in Virginia is a big one. It is not my purpose
here to dwell on that. It had plenty of coverage during the times the local property
owners challenged and won, regarding the laws in the State of Virginia pertaining to
fishing streams flowing through private property. I "think" the law still stands
something like "you can float through the sections of private property staying in the
river but you can't fish or even show fishing apparatus when proceeding through
them". Oh, well, I had rather those that are interested check out the laws for
themselves. I'm certain any good lawyer could find something about anything I
stated regarding it to be incorrect. I'll just not state anything other than most all of
the river's tailwater section cannot be fished by the public.

There are six or seven public access points, one right below the dam, but from what
I have seen, and from what I understand, they all provide only a small section of
water to fish. The area you can fish is so small that the state of Virginia stopped
stocking the river with trout. That fact brings up a very interesting question I'll get to
in a minute. The Jackson River tailwater is a new tailwater. The dam was put in
place in the late 1980's. I read where considerable effort and expense was
encountered to ensure the dam could control the oxygen and temperature of the
water so that it was suitable for trout. The state stocked the stream heavily up until
the local property owners won their case.

Even though I didn't intend to, I have ended up writing more than I probably should
have about the problem with the Jackson River tailwater. There is just about no way
you can approach the subject in a few words, or at least a few words that would
make sense. From what I understand, the only thing I can say is
the laws of the
state of Virginia regarding the rights to a stream bed suck.

Now, back to the state discontinuing the stocking of trout due to the limited stream
access, just let me ask "shouldn't they have done that anyway"?. After all,
according to what I read and what I am told by the locals, the stream has continued
to have a high number of stream-bred or wild brown and rainbow trout population. If
that is correct, in my opinion, the state should not stock the stream anyway,
regardless of access. That
1970 stocking mentality is a problem several states
have.

So, if I understand the Jackson River tailwater situation correctly, it is a great trout
stream (maybe the best in the entire eastern U.S. according to some anglers) with
lots of wild brown and rainbow trout but no one except the local property owners
and their friends or business partners can fish it - that is with the exception of the
few, small public access points.

I probably have some of this wrong, but that is the best I can understand it. Angie
and I did visit the Jackson River area three years ago and we did spend four days
at various locations on the river, including some time on its tailwater section. We did
about everything anyone not directly involved with the situation could do to try to
determine where, when and how to fish the Jackson River. Tomorrow I will let you
know what little we did learn.

Copyright 2008 James Marsh