James River Water Levels

Westham Gauge
Gauge Height: 4.90'
Flow: 4510 cfps

Trail Conditions: Richmond


Todays Tides: Richmond Locks

High Tide: 11:12pm
Low Tide: 5:36pm

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Posted In: Features

The inescapable lure of trout

February 23, 2012 3:22pm

I spent the majority of my 20’s chasing trout from one end of the continent to the other and down into Patagonia, Chile and Argentina. So, when I hitched up my drift boat in Oregon at age 27 and headed east to a teaching job in Atlanta, I thought to myself, ‘I will be back!,’ as I crossed each glorious trout stream from the Deschutes, to the Green, to the Colorado.

Now, over a decade later I still have yet to return to the clear, trout-filled waters of the Rockies. Actually I just about gave up trout fishing for the better part of eight years. Selling my drift boat and purchasing a skiff, I quickly became enamored of salt water and the variety of species it holds.

Just last year, however, I pulled out the old 4-weight and headed west again, just not as far this time. A friend invited me and my wife to spend a weekend at his property in West Virginia, which just happened to have a little over a half mile of private, stocked trout water. My wife was anxious to learn, so we found a temporary home for the kids with the grandparents and hit the road. It was early spring and the conditions were perfect, the water clear and cold.

When you spend the better part of five years on the water, more than 100 days a year, chasing fish with a little fur tied to a hook, it comes right back without much trouble. Before I knew it, I was into a beautiful brook trout in a deep trough under a gorgeous rock bluff. Suddenly, I was asking myself why I had taken so much time off from trout fishing.

For those of you who have ever tried to teach your wives to do anything, you know it can be a touchy situation. I knew she needed some distance and space, but she also needed a little help catching her fish trout on a fly. I simplified the rig as much as possible, placing a single nymph just 3 feet or so under a pinch-on indicator and pointed her in the direction of some fishy looking water after a quick tutorial on nymphing for trout.

My wife is nothing if not independent and persistent. I watched from a distance as she made cast after cast into a nice looking run, as she untangled a few messes without looking my way, and eventually as she set the hook on a fat little rainbow that had her rod bobbing up and down and her stumbling back toward the bank on the slippery rocks.

She landed that fish and several others. It was a wonderful afternoon, and just as enjoyable an evening around the campfire, listening to the water rush through the darkness.


Spring is the perfect time to escape to the mountains in search of trout, whether for a day trip or even more preferably for the weekend. There are a wealth of cabins for rent and miles and miles of trout streams to explore right here in the Commonwealth.  

 Mossy Creek Fly Shop in Harrisonburg, The Albemarle Angler in Charlottesville or the Orvis store in Richmond are great places to begin your search for a Virginia trout getaway.

About Tee Clarkson

Tee Clarkson is the Outdoors Columnist for the Richmond Times Dispatch and owns Virginia Fishing Adventures and Virginia Outside summer camps, and in his spare time somehow finds time to get outside with his wife and kids.