Big Nasty Bows on Cripple Creek

Pennsylvania fly fishermen were collectively pulling their hair out this past week as the state saw another week of heavy rains. A majority of popular spring trout fishing streams were well above their banks heading into Saturday. While frustrating, remember that April showers bring May flowers, as well as a healthy population of stocked trout that will hopefully last well into June with a high water table. Early last week I figured I was going to have to formulate a game plan to find fishable water on Saturday. I decided to pull out my little black book of trout streams south of the Pennsylvania border. Cross referencing streams with the path of last week’s rain storms I was able to find some water in Virginia that was minimally impacted by the rain. I targeted a small stream in southwestern Virginia named Cripple Creek. 

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Southern Hospitality & Escatawba Rainbows

I was checking the weather forecast every evening last week looking at Saturday and Sunday and hoping it was going to stay dry. Unfortunately, every day that passed, the percentage chance of rain, thunderstorms, and high winds kept increasing.  By Thursday I decided I’d need a plan B for Saturday and I started exploring my options. After an exhausting search I couldn’t find a safe forecast anywhere in Pennsylvania or any state bordering it. State College streams were out, Erie steelhead was out, Pulaski steelhead was out, wild Maryland trout were out, there was no where to go. Then I remembered a place I’d read about a couple years ago. In southern Virginia, nestled in the Alleghany Mountains is a place called Escatawba Farms. This is a privately run trout fishing destination on a section of the Dunlap Creek. The place caught my attention because of the way the owner had kept the stream and property in its natural state. While I was eating lunch on Friday afternoon, I made a phone call to Escatawba Farms. I spoke with owner Derrick Barr and he filled me in on how his operation worked. He said no one else would be fishing the property on Saturday and I was welcome to come down. He mentioned that he did fresh stockings in March and April and that if I wanted to see a lot of fish, that’d be the time to visit.

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