The St. Mary’s River.
The St. Mary’s River is located in the George Washington National Forest’s St Mary’s Wilderness area. It flows through a beautiful canyon like area in the mountains and is one of the more scenic fishing 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 St. Mary’s Road.
Like Ramsey’s Draft you can start fishing very near the parking area. I prefer to hike in for a bit and start my serious fishing above Sugartree Branch.
This section from Sugartree Branch to the falls is really a beautiful area and you will find yourself looking around as much as looking at the water. Like the previous rivers in this series it is a typical riffle-pool-run system. The area plenty of open area’s making casting very easy and enough tight spots to make it challenging.
Depending on the water conditions Sugartree Branch is worth looking into to. It is a reasonably steep gradient with a trail running along side. 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 branch that lead down to the river but 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.
As with the other streams, 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. Of course if you want to go the full tenkara route then try an Oki or Ishigaki. Check with Mossy Creek Fly Fishing to get the latest on what’s working.
Fishing St. Mary’s is a commitment and will eat up a day very easily. The numbers and size of fish in the St. Mary’s are fewer and smaller than the other rivers; the scenic nature of the canyon however more than makes up for it. It is 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.