The massive stocking associated with Heritage Day occurred last Friday. It loaded up rivers across the State to mimic the excitement of opening day. I attended the event on Saturday at the Graves Mountain Lodge and can attest to the high level of excitement among the many children who attended the event. According to Lee Walker of the VDGIF, the water in the Rose River was running at the absolute perfect level. It allowed for the even distribution of anglers (and fish) throughout the stocked stretch while making it easy for even the little ones to belly up to the river and catch a fish.
As I walked the length of the river, I was impressed by the number of small children and their obvious excitement. Thankfully, the fish were cooperative and I saw many teeny tiny kids hook up a nice trout with a minimum of help from a supportive parent.
After watching the action, I knew I had to participate as well. With that in mind, I set my sights on the other, close-in stocked Heritage water – Chopawamsic at Quantico. I rolled in on Monday morning and was happy to discover that the gate to the stocked creek was open. My plan "B" would have been to continue on down to the Rappahannock. Thankfully, I did not have to trigger that option. After driving to the end of the road, I hopped on my bike and continued the additional 0.75 mile to get to the base of the dam. This is one of the situations were moving away from the parking lot diminishes the pressure substantially.
At the dam, there are two long ponds that I am sure get heavily loaded with fish. In years past, I've never been skunked fishing in either of these pools. Given the high winds, I brought my spin gear and hooked up a size 2 Panther Martin to begin working the water.
History easily repeated itself and I pulled in two nice trout in short order. In addition, small bass and sunfish were starting to move in the rapidly warming, 60° water. There are several stream crossings between the parking area and the dam; each of which offers good stocking locations both above and below the crossings. I began to work my way back to the truck, fishing each of these in turn. Despite being recently stocked, I can attest that some of these fish were already stream smart. I worked two "big boys" for close to a half an hour without getting them to chomp either on a spinner or a small powerbait nymph I deployed with my 13 foot Tenkara rod.
All in all, I hooked into five trout and landed four - proving that the opening day crowds do not wipe out the stream. It was a good day to be out with brilliant sunshine, no crowds and clear water.
Bottom Line: Chopawamsic Creek is a pleasant stretch of water. It's a shame that it is not a tailwater that would make it robust enough to support a year-round trout population. Sadly, all the trout expire quickly once the water heats up. With that, it's a good place to go to grab a few for the skillet. You do not need to be in the military to fish this creek. You do need a special $10 permit to fish anywhere on Quantico. You can pick up the permit at the Lunga Reservoir concession stand. Be prepared to show a picture ID at the gate leading to the reservoir.
Getting There: Take exit 148 from I95. Turn west at the end of the ramp. There is a small dirt road to the right of the bridge you encounter about 100 yards west of I95. Turn down that road and, if the gate is open, follow the road to the small lake. Fish up the stream from there. It is stocked at each stream crossing point.
Google Local Coordinates: 38.523014,-77.373179
Secrets Revealed? No. This is a very public location that is documented in the Virginia VDGIF stocking plan
Date Fished: 04/09/2012