Even though May represents one of the best months in the trout stocking season, I had a hankering to take a hike looking for smallies. With the rain continuing to pound Virginia, I knew that the Rapidan and Rappahannock would be blown out. Earlier in the week, I had swung by the Upper Potomac at Seneca Breaks and validated it was also blown out as a result of the volume of water cascading towards the bay. However, I had recently been to the Rapidan up in the park and knew that the closer you get to the mountains, the clearer the water becomes as a result of a reduced opportunity for farm sediment to be swept into the river. With that in mind, I pointed my truck towards Banco and the Robinson.
Every other time I have driven by the start point I had in mind, there were always other people fishing there. I was startled to see that I was the first one to arrive even though it was midmorning. I geared up, and walked down to the end of the pool where there is a small dam. Not seeing any posted signs, I decided to walk as far as I could tolerate it downstream and then fish my way back up. The bottom line up front is that all this water is good. Immediately downstream of the dam that backs the Robinson up into a deep pool next to the parking area there is another broad, deep section that stretches about 50 yards. Around the downstream corner, the river starts to bend back and forth creating deep pools with the sheltered areas near trees being productive. I was stunned to catch a nice size brook trout in a deep hole where a tree spans the river. Encouraged by that, I pulled myself together and began to hike downstream.
Once you are beyond the initial pool below the dam, the best approach to walking downstream is on the southern (river right) bank. There's a broad gap of 20 to 30 feet between the river and a fence that clearly marks private property. Encouraged by that distinction, I pressed south and finally broke out of the undergrowth onto the river at a gentle, shallow corner. After looking up and downstream, I decided to work my way back up and look for the deeper pools where the smallies would huddle rather than head any farther downstream.
Immediately upstream from my entry point, there's a broad section of the river with a large downed tree laying lengthwise in the middle. The water runs four and 5 feet deep on either side and the smallies were home! They were hitting anything floated on top. I was encouraged that poppers were effective this early in the season with a light blue being a hot color. As with all Virginia rivers, the smallies have to fight their way to your fly ahead of the fallfish that are always fun to catch as well. In fact, the fallfish seem to be more susceptible to dry flies than any other species. Even though I always disappointed when I finally see that it is a fallfish, it's exciting to catch anything off the top.
I fished my way up the river from there. The scenery was unremarkable yet pleasant. The river, at least in May with high flows, was running broad and reasonably deep across a generally rocky, smallie friendly bottom. While I didn't catch any large smallies, I caught enough of the 12 to 14 inch versions to be overjoyed. The next key landmark moving upstream is a broad concrete improved bank about a quarter-mile downstream from the entry point.
Remember to refer to my rating explanations - these are based on what I look for - so RED for Physical Fitness translates to easy physically - you do not need to be in shape to fish this section. I prefer terrain that is tough to get into and out of.
That concrete bank shelters a deep cut at its base and you can pick up fish in the current seams that push out towards the southern bank. In fact, just downstream of the concrete bank there is another large pool and I was surprised to see a number of good sized smallies clustered up against the southern bank in the shallow water. Sadly, I spooked them; not anticipating that they would be there.
Bottom Line: Just like farther downstream, the Robinson continues to be a good place to fish for both bass and trout when stocked.
Getting There: Locate Banco, VA. From Banco, go south on VA 609. About 1/3 mile down from the intersection or 609 with 231, you will see a large pool. There is a 2 truck parking area at the north end of the pool.
Google Local Coordinates: 38.446296,-78.270915
Secrets Revealed? No. This is a very public location that is documented in the Virginia VDGIF
Date Fished: 05/16/2009
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