There are two streams in West Virginia that are on the Trout Unlimited’s Guide to America’s 100 Best Trout Streams, the Cranberry River and Seneca Creek. Last year we fished the Cranberry River, which proved challenging given we’d never fished the river and we had no guide. As we approached fishing Seneca Creek, we found ourselves in the same position, never seen it and no guides around. We started to wonder just why these two streams were on the list in the first place, but undaunted, we headed to Seneca Rocks, WV, to fish Seneca Creek.
When we arrived in the area around noon, we talked with some of the staff at the Smokehole Resort where we were staying. They indicated that the water levels in Seneca Creek weren’t too good. In fact, the river running right behind the SaraLinda, the North Fork of the South Branch of the Potomac River, which Seneca Creek runs into, was incredibly low, a great indicator that Seneca Creek wouldn’t be any better. We also learned that there was a large fire in the mountain above us, with around 50 firefighters deployed and another 50-100 more firefighters on their way and would be checking into the cabins next to us.
We hooked up the SaraLinda and decided to go checkout Seneca Creek, following the directions written in the TU book. When we reached Seneca Rocks, we turned onto Highway 33 and drove until we saw White’s Run Road. We turned onto the road and headed up the mountain until we found the parking area next to the Seneca Creek trailhead. We were the only car there.
We got out in a light drizzle, rigged up our 7′ rods and began hiking up the trail. The book said to hike up a ways before beginning to fish, but as we checked out the stream as we hiked deeper into the woods, there was not a soul in sight. After about 1.4 miles, we came to a spot where the trail crossed Seneca Creek. We stopped, looked up and down the creek, not seeing much water to fish. After walking another .3 mile further upstream, seeing no deep holes to fish, we came back to the crossing and waded in, deciding we’d find the deepest holes we could and drift a small stimulator through it.
After trying this in 3 or 4 small holes, a small brook trout took the stimulator… we had a fish on Seneca Creek. We fished a bit more, but decided that the water was just too low to fish more so we headed back to the SaraLinda. We talked that night and decided we’d give Seneca Creek a rest, not wanting to stress the small brookies that might be hiding in any water they could.
The next day, we went over the mountain on Smoke Hole Road to fish the South Branch of the Potomac, which we’d heard had some water in it. We fished near Eagle Rocks in a beautiful fall setting. We hooked into some creek chubs on dry flies, so, the fishing was fun. As we headed back over the mountain to the SaraLinda, we came across a staging area full of firefighters. The road was still open, but was now being used as a basecamp for fighting the fire. Further along the road a light rain began to fall. As we rounded a corner, this incredible double rainbow appeared out of nowhere. It was so close we felt like we could touch it.
While we found the fishing in West Virginia very challenging, we found the natural beauty of the state amazing.