By Bruce Ingram
Photos by Bruce Ingram
Upon arrival at Crooked Creek, I immediately understood why the 1,796-acre Wildlife Management Area is part of the Virginia Bird and Wildlife Trail, even though no formal trails exist. Acadian flycatchers and peewees serenaded the anglers along the namesake stream, as did wood thrushes, ovenbirds, and American redstarts–to name just a few of the songbirds.
As enticing as the bird songs were, I had come to the Carrol County fee fishing stream to seek salmonids. At the first pool where Roanoke County resident John Loope and I stopped, we witnessed an angler putting the last trout of his six-fish limit on a stringer.
“He’s been using night crawlers,” Loope sighed. “I brought my fly rod and best trout patterns, and I brought my spinning rod and spinners, minnows, and Powerbait. But the one thing I didn’t bring was worms. When you come here, you’ve got to be prepared to give the trout what they want.”
Despite Loope’s apprehension, he landed four trout in the two hours we fished before the threat of thunderstorms sent us homeward. His three rainbows and brookie fell to either dace or garden hackle–perhaps indicating that the recently stocked trout weren’t all that peculiar about what was cast toward them.
Loope, a member of the Roanoke Chapter of Trout Unlimited, doesn’t mind driving well over an hour to reach a stream where rhododendron, sycamores, and slippery elm envelop the banks and cinnamon ferns thrive below them.
“The creek has plenty of trout, many of them 12 to 16 inches long,” he says. “There’s also plenty of room for fishermen to spread out, and I like the fact that Crooked is stocked four times a week, so there’s always fish.”
Loope says the upper section averages 10 to 12 feet across and several feet deep while the lower portion is about twice as wide and contains pools as deep as six feet or so. Because Crooked Creek is a cold water freestone stream, the angler recommends that visitors wear hip waders for the upper portion and chest waders for the lower. Tactics can vary greatly.
Fly, spin, and bait fishermen can all do well, Loope continues. A long rodder can experience success working streamers and nymphs through riffles and runs, as can a spin fishermen churning spinners and small jerkbaits or a bait angler plying minnows or night crawlers through the same areas.
Regardless of an angler’s favorite fishing rod, the Roanoke County resident recommends stouter tackle than many sportsmen usually associate with trout fishing. For example, he suggests that spin fishermen use six- or eight-pound test because of the hefty trout that often fin the creek’s clear water. A four or five weight rod is a savvy choice for long rodders.
Another part of the Crooked Creek’s charm, Loupe adds, is that the stream is a quality destination for parents with youth age 12 or so and older, especially if they are novice anglers. The stream would be difficult to wade for many younger elementary-age kids he says.
Crooked Creek’s fee fishing season is open daily from the first Saturday in April through September 30 and consists of a 5-mile stocked section and an approximately 2-mile section managed as a wild trout fishery. During this period, anglers will need to purchase a daily $8.00 permit and possess a valid state fishing license. A trout license is required when the fee fishing season is not open.
The Crooked Creek WMA lies just outside of Galax. The concession area at Crooked Creek is closed, so daily permits will need to be purchased beforehand using the DWR Go Outdoors Virginia website or on the GoOutdoorsVirginia app, or by visiting Walmart in Galax.