Five Great Virginia Streams for Tenkara (part 1)

The 2013 Tenkara Summit will be in Harrisonburg, Va. on May 11 and 12, hosted by Tenkara USA and Mossy Creek Fly Fishing. I am excited to be part of the team planning and hosting the summit and because many folks are not familiar with the bounty of brook trout fishing here in the Valley I thought I would share some notes on five of my favorites. All are public water, three in the George Washington National Forest, and two in the Shenandoah National Park. My five favorites are:
Ramsey’s Draft
Skidmore Fork
St. Mary’s River
Rapidan River
North Fork of the Moorman’s
I will start with Ramsey’s and over the next couple of weeks I’ll write about the others.

Ramsey’s Draft

pocket water

pocket water

You will find Ramsey’s Draft 4.5 miles west of West Augusta, Va. on route 250. Look for Mountain House Day Use Area on your right as you are headed west. There is plenty of parking in two areas; the paved lot with picnic tables and a smaller unpaved lot across the low water bridge.


moving to a pool

Once you are geared up you can fish up or down stream from the parking areas. Most of the water is above the parking areas but a trip downstream is worth the time. If you want to hike in a bit you will find an easy trail that heads upstream from the parking area and runs along and crosses the stream a few times. It is very easy to move along and fish where it suits you. Ramsey’s is a pool-run-riffle stream and for the most part gives you lot’s of casting room. It is a low gradient stream so you will not be scrambling over boulders or falls.

Here is an interesting story about Ramsey’s. Colby and Brian Trow, the owners of Mossy Creek Fly Fishing, took Tom Rosenbauer of Orvis here. Colby fished his tenkara rod in pools that Tom had just fished and caught fish left and right. It was then that Tom decided he needed to give tenkara a try and spent the afternoon fishing tenkara on Ramsey’s.


a small run

I generally fish a dry or dry-dropper rig; either Adams or BWO parachutes. For nymphs I will use a Pheasant Tail or Gold Ribbed Hare’s ear. You might want 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.


Pool and run

Fishing Ramsey’s is not hard but you want to plan your route in each section. The water is shallow and you can easily spook fish if you are not careful. Wade carefully and look ahead for the next good spot. The runs can be surprisingly good especially if you take the time to study the water and pick out the small pockets and holding water. The pools are spaced out so you have lots of water between them to drop a fly into. Ramsey’s rewards patience and a stealthy approach. If you think it might hold a fish it is a good idea to check, you will be surprised how often you are right.



If you fish Ramsey’s let me know what you think!

Tenkara in Garden & Gun

One of the really cool things about getting involved in something new is seeing the recognition grow.  When I picked up a tenkara rod for the first time I had no idea it would become such a part of my life.

On the cover: Flyfishing Without A Reel

Since then I have had the opportunity to introduce tenkara to people who then do a story about tenkara. Of course I appreciate the coverage of tenkara and naturally since I am a bit of a ham, enjoy seeing my name and face in print.

The article and photo’s in Garden & Gun August/September issue may very well be my favorite. It gave me a chance me to introduce two new friends to tenkara, fish in my favorite places and because of their excellent craftsmanship, share tenkara with Garden & Gun’s readers.

First stop was Ramsey’s Draft with the article’s author Donovan Webster.  Don was an accomplished fly fisherman and he was a quick study with the tenkara rod. As you will see, Don did an outstanding job of capturing the essence of tenkara in his article Whisper Fishing.

Michael J.N. Bowles is an extremely talented photojournalist and no slouch with a fly rod as well. He was a bit reluctant to pick up the tenkara rod since he was supposed to be shooting images not fishing. When he finally did and caught a fish, his excitement was infectious. You can see his marvelous photos from our trip to the Rapidan River in Fly Fishing Without A Reel.

Garden & Gun is a favorite in our house and has been long before I was fortunate enough to grace its pages. If you want great writing and beautiful photography steeped in southern charm, then do yourself a favor and subscribe.

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