South Fork of the Holston River


Stream Category: Special Regulation – Catch and Release Only

Wild Trout: Rainbow, Brown, and Brook

Other Species of Note: None


Dry Flies: Unknown

Nymphs: Midges, Mop Flies, and Squirmmy Wormies

Streamers: Kreelex

Waders: Yes

Net: Yes (Big Net Preferred) 

Casting: Roll, Overhead, and Tuck



What can I say about the South Fork of the Holston River; well besides (in my opinion) it is the best fishery that Southwestern Virginia has to offer. It is a prime example why every county that is able to support wild trout should have a catch and release stream available. Honestly, if every county had a stream like the South Fork of the Holston River, there would be a lot less bickering between the catch and release community and the put and take community. 


The only downside to this stream, unless you live close to Marion, Va, is that it is a haul to get there. From the Roanoke Valley, it takes a little under two and a half hours to get there. However those two and a half hours wasted driving are well worth it when you are able to catch citation size fish throughout the entire stream, not only are they citation sized but they are wild… yes wild. 


Now let us get down to basics of the stream, it is roughly a mile stretch of freestone creek. In certain places the stream might only be five feet wide, while others it could be ten to fifteen feet wide. For the most part you will not need anything but hip waders. Be prepared to do some very tight roll casting and have fun when your able to rip a good overhead cast, however mainly you will be doing a lot of tuck casting. This stream is a Euro-nympher’s dream come true here in Virginia.


As for the how to fish this creek: stock up on midges, these fish seem to love them – the smaller the better. In one section midges are almost all they will even consider eating, everything else spooks the bejesus out of them. But as you progress on downstream squirmy wormmies and mop flies produce quite often. You would think that other nymphs should work, but I am guessing after years of fishing pressure, these fish have become quite adept in telling the difference between a real nymph and a fake nymph. When it comes to streamers, the only streamer I have had consistent success with is the Kreelex, even then it only produces thirty percent of the time. Again these fish are intelligent. However if you hook into one of these fish be prepared for the battle of your life, I highly recommend using 5x tippet, anything smaller these fish will snap in a heartbeat. Also I recommend having a very large net with you, the smallest fish I have caught out of this stream has been eighteen inches long, well besides a few fingerlings. I know I have caught at least two citation rainbow trout in this area, and I have cussed myself for not having a measuring tape with me ever since. Also I know personally that this stream has held a state record brown trout in it, and as long as the stream is not abused this stream will definitely have a state record rainbow and brook trout one day in it. Luckily it is on state land and the VDGIF constantly patrols the area. 



Additional Notes: 

Parking is right front of the VDGIF Hatchery office. 




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