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Trout Hike - Hughes River (VA - Lower Section after Drought)
Monday, December 6, 2010

There was a major change that occurred in April of 2010 that impacts the accessibility of the Hughes River. At that point in time, the upper Old Rag Mountain parking lot was closed for public use. This automatically adds another 0.6 miles to the hike to reach the upper end of the Hughes River.  Add that 0.6 to the half mile of private property the trail runs across before you can walk to the river - resulting in a hike of over a mile to reach legal, fishable water. After fishing on Brokenback Run, I decided to walk over to Hughes  and fish the lower section to see if this change had had an impact on the quality of fishing. In earlier years, I never fished the first section because that stretch was always hammered by people who were unwilling or unable to walk farther. Maybe with the new reality of a hike of over a mile to reach the start, the quality of the fishing will improve.

I beat feet from the parking lot all the way up to the trail and was impressed by the quality of the water. It was running full, fast and crystal clear. I did not see any kind of a hatch in progress so I decided to rely on small nymphs. Granted, I had not seen what the river looked like at the height of the drought in the summer so I did not know whether the fish had moved from their community pools or had been wiped out by marauding raccoons and other wildlife that could unleash a hungry fury on fish stuck in shallow water.

I only fished about a quarter mile upstream because I'd already done a lot of hiking. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of fish I picked up. It was a mix of a brook trout and fallfish, but it was clear that the fish were still here. On the only other time I tried to fish this stretch, back before it was harder to reach, I don't recall having luck as good as I experienced on this day. Therefore, for those who can walk, this is a very positive development and makes the Hughes even more attractive than before.

Bottom Line: The Hughes  remains one of my favorite rivers in the Shenandoah National Park.

Getting There: To get to the southern entrance of the Hughes, go south from Sperryville on 231 and turn off on 602 towards Nethers.  Continue until you get to the Rag Mountain lot.  You have to park there as all the parking closer to the trailhead is now posted.  Follow the Nicholson Hollow Trail - it runs right next to the Hughes.

View Larger Map

Pressure Trout Size
Physical Fitness Bass Size N/A
Access Regulations
Hard to Find Stocking
Scenery Overall

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.

Secrets Revealed?  No.  This is a very public location that is documented in the following places:

Virginia VDGIF
Flyfisher's Guide to Virginia 
Virginia Trout Streams 
Virginia Blue-Ribbon Streams 
Fly Fishing Virginia 

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Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore

Disclaimer and Warning:  The contents of this site reflect the opinion of the author and you, the reader, must exercise care in the use and interpretation of this information.  Fishing is a dangerous sport.  You can slip and fall on rocks and sustain severe injury.  You can drown.  You can get hooks caught in your skin, face, eyes or other sensitive places.  All sorts of bad things can happen to you when to go into the woods to visit the places documented here.  Forests, streams and lakes are wild areas and any number of bad things can happen.  You must make your own judgment in terms of acceptable behavior and risk and not rely on anything posted here.  I disclaim all liability and responsibility for any actions you take as a result of reading the articles on this site.  If you do not agree with this, you should not read anything posted on this site.

Finally, access points may be different or restricted based on changes in property ownership since posting the original article.  It is up to you to make sure you are fishing where it is legal.

Copyright © Steve Moore