After Lon and I fished the Robinson River down near Route 29 and Lilliard's Ford, we decided to drive up the Banco and fish upstream from the 231 bridge. It was a quick drive up there and we were encouraged by the amount of water we saw as we drove across the bridge. Making a right turn, we recon'd downstream a bit to look for likely pull off spots and to further check the condition of the river. We eventually decided to return to the bridge and park in the small turnout on the east side; being careful not to block the chain-gated entry.
A quick walk from the road, leveraging the VDOT access, put us on the water. There's a nice hole right at the bridge that I left Lon to work as I moved immediately upstream. The Robinson is not a big river, but it holds both trout and smallmouth bass depending on the season. The stocked trout water section begins a few miles upstream of Banco. Given the tendency of stocked rainbow trout to move downstream, you might find a few trout in this stretch of the river and the spring. But, this was July, so we were here for smallies.
The river has a rocky bottom with minimal sand; providing great habitat for smallmouth, bluegill and fallfish. Unfortunately, the water does not stay deep enough to allow anything to grow very large. I imagine the predators have a field day here and clean out the fish before they get too big. The typical smallie I caught here was about 10 to 12 inches, along with bluegills of various sizes and fallfish ranging up to 10 inches in length.
There was no consistency to the structure on this part of the river. At times, the deep stretch would be on the left and other times on the right. Every large rock or boulder that poked out of the water sheltered a hole. Upstream of the bridge, I found the left bank to be the more productive as the river increased in depth from east to west. In addition, that bank had a significant amount of overhanging vegetation as well as the aforementioned rock structure.
Once you break north of that stretch, the river becomes fairly shallow and there is a 100 yards of riffles with only periodic pools that hold fish. It's important to note that there is private property on both sides of the river. So, once you are in, you need to stay in the riverbed until you get far enough north to where you can walk out to the road without violating someone's property (or wade back). After the riffled section, the river compresses and there are some rock ridges that provide a little bit of gradient and structure to fish. At the northern part of my walk, I discovered a deep "lake" section that ranged up to four or 5 feet in depth that held some good fish.
I caught all my fish using terrestrial patterns. There were hitting grasshoppers, ants - anything that looked like a bug floating on the top of the water. I did not see evidence of anyone else having fished this stretch. There were no bait containers; no footprints in the sand the bank.
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.
Bottom Line: While this was a nice diversion since we were in the area anyway, it's not worth a return trip just to fish this section. It may be worthwhile to fish in the late spring and attempt to catch both rainbows and smallies as the water breaks back through the 50° mark. I still believe that the best stretch of the Robinson for smallies is the part right above Route 29. There are additional sections of the Robinson that I need to investigate as we go into the new year that are farther downstream from Lilliard's Ford.
Getting There: From Banco, go south on Rt 231 until you come to the bridge. There is a small turnout on the east side where you can park. Do not block access.
Google Local Coordinates: 38.44848,-78.278854
Secrets Revealed? No. The Robinson River is a well known fishing river. I read about smallies in this stretch on VAFlyFish.com