Blue Stream Fly Fishing
Fly Fishing Report for:

Cowpasture River - Clifton Forge - Virginia

Hatch Chart - Best Access/Spots - Local Fish - About

Water Flow Chart

Using Water Flow Charts & Weather Reports: Begin with our water flow charts to grasp stream velocity and volume – look for stable or rising trends to pinpoint ideal fishing times. Learn to interpret sudden spikes or drops, which can indicate potential challenges. Next, consult our weather reports to understand ambient conditions. Pairing the two, you can anticipate fish behavior, choose the right gear, and select the best fishing spots. Use these tools together for a holistic approach to your next fishing adventure.

In-Depth Weather

Directions To Location

Hatch Chart

Month Hatch Time of Day Recommended Fly Sizes Popular Fly Patterns
January Midges Midday #20-22 Zebra Midges
February Stoneflies Midday #14-16 BH Rubber Leg Stonefly
March Blue Winged Olive Midday #18-20 Pheasant Tail Nymphs
Quill Gordon Afternoon #12-14 Quill Gordon Dry Fly
April Caddis All Day #14-16 Elk Hair Caddis
Sulphurs Afternoon #16-18 Pheasant Tail Nymphs
May Sulphurs Afternoon #16-18 Comparadun Sulphur
Gray Fox Midday #14-16 Gray Fox Dry
Caddis All Day #14-16 Elk Hair Caddis
June Sulphurs Afternoon to Dusk #16-18 Comparadun Sulphur
July Tiny Blue-Winged Olives Dusk #20-24 Blue Winged Olive
August Tiny Blue-Winged Olives Dusk #20-24 Blue Winged Olive
September October Caddis Dusk #8-10 Elk Hair Caddis
Tiny Blue-Winged Olives Dusk #20-24 Blue Winged Olive
October October Caddis Dusk #8-10 Elk Hair Caddis
Blue Winged Olive Afternoon #18-20 BWO Sparkle Dun
November Blue Winged Olive Midday #20-22 BWO Sparkle Dun
Midges Midday #22-24 Zebra Midges
December Midges Midday #22-24 Zebra Midges

While we strive to ensure the precision of our hatch charts, some reflect broader river region insights. Through ongoing partnerships with local guides and fly shops, we’re committed to refining our data. Should you notice any inconsistencies or have feedback, we welcome you to reach out. 

Best Fishing Spots

Fly fishing on the Cowpasture River, Clifton Forge, offers not just an adventurous pastime but a chance to reel in some of the richest variety of fish. Here are some of the best fishing spots:
  • Buckhorn: Known for its tranquil atmosphere and bass population, this spot works great for beginners. Expect to find Rock Bass, Smallmouth Bass, and Trout.
  • Buckingham: A popular spot with breathtaking scenery. It’s home to Large Red Horse, White Sucker and Smallmouth Bass.
  • Goshen Pass: A fantastic fishing spot year-round boasting Smallmouth Bass, Trout, and Chain Pickerel.
  • Bath County: This site is sought-after for its waterfalls and pristine spring waters. It’s great for Smallmouth Bass, Trout, and Walleye.
  • Botetourt County: This is a fantastic fishing spot with a magnificent variety of fish species including Brown Trout, Smallmouth Bass, and Rock bass.
Remember to follow all fishing regulations and always catch and release to preserve our precious fish species in the Cowpasture River.

Best Access Points

The Cowpasture River in Clifton Forge offers various access points excellent for fly fishing. Here, are the most recommended:
  • Sharon Boat Landing: Owned by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, it offers ample parking and easy river access.
  • Brushy Fork: Located on Route 600, this Forest Service owned land provides an ideal spot for fishing.
  • Walton Tract: With over a half-mile of river frontage, this area provides several fishing spots. Access the river from the River Road.
  • Muddy Run: This spot offers multiple fishing points along with convenient parking spots.
  • Route 42 Bridge: The access point is directly under the bridge, on river’s right side. However, be cautious as the current can be strong in this area.
These access points will set you up for a promising fly fishing experience on the Cowpasture River.

Local Fish

  • Smallmouth Bass: This robust and powerful fish is an all time favorite for fly fishing enthusiasts on the Cowpasture River.
  • Brook Trout: Known for their distinctive marbled pattern, Brook Trout are highly prized by anglers for their fight and their beauty.
  • Rainbow Trout: Widely stocked across many water bodies, Rainbow Trout are known for putting up a good fight, making them an excellent target for fly fishing.
  • Brown Trout: The elusive nature of the Brown Trout makes it a challenging and rewarding fish to catch on the fly.
  • Bluegill: These small but feisty fish can offer plenty of action on light tackle, making them great for beginners and experts alike.
  • Rock Bass: With their big mouth and sturdy body, Rock Bass are fun to target and offer plenty of action on the Cowpasture River.
  • Black Crappie: Known for their paper-thin mouths, Black Crappie require careful handling but can provide great fly fishing experience.
  • White Perch: These fish are highly adaptable and can provide a fun and challenging catch for fly fishermen.

About The River

The Cowpasture River is a hidden gem nestled near Clifton Forge, Virginia. Its name, rich with bucolic charm, is believed to have been coined in the 17th century when cows wandered away from settlers’ farms and ended up grazing along this lush pasture.

However, it’s more than just a place for wayward cattle. This river spans almost 84 miles, providing a nourishing haven for diverse wildlife and serenely flowing through Virginia’s stunning landscape.

Over the centuries, the Cowpasture River has seen many transformations. It played a pivotal role in the area’s development. The river’s fertile lands housed the American Indian Monacan tribe before Colonial settlers arrived. Notably, it also became an important source of energy during the Industrial Revolution.

  • Today, it’s a popular spot for outdoor activities including fishing, canoeing, and camping, giving visitors an opportunity to immerse themselves in nature and history.
  • It also contributes to Virginia’s water supply, converging with the Jackson River to form the James River.

Reflecting Virginia’s rich past and vibrant present, the Cowpasture River continues to be an essential, beautiful feature of the Clifton Forge area.


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