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Cowpasture River

Shenandoah, Cowpasture, and James River fish kills update

The Cowpasture is legally navigable below U.S. Route 60, and there is one public access area on Forest Service land (Evans Tract). Also, two U.S. Forest Service sections provide public bank access, below Nimrod Hall (Walton Tract), and one near Williamsville (Wallace Tract). Smallmouth bass, rock bass, muskies, and redbreast sunfish can be caught in the Cowpasture. Contact the Deerfield, Warm Springs, or James River Ranger District Offices of the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests for public fishing opportunities.

Maps & Directions

Wallace Tract


This is a beautiful Forest Service tract with shore and wading access to the river. Fishing opportunities for rock bass, redbreast sunfish, smallmouth bass and an occasional trout are excellent. Tent camping is allowed. Coursey Springs Trout Hatchery is a local attraction that is only a few minutes away.

Walton Tract


Around 2 miles of fishing for smallmouth bass, muskie, rock bass, and sunfish is available at this remote parcel of Forest Service land. A short canoe trip around a large bend in the river is set among bluffs, fields, and forests. Boat landings are undeveloped and can only handle canoes, kayaks, or small jon boats.

Evans Tract to Glen Wilton (on the James River)


A 3.2 mile float trip will carry the angler around remote curves in the Cowpasture, where fishing for musky, smallmouth bass, and sunfish is very good. The Cowpasture eventually merges with the Jackson River to form the head of the James River. After the confluence, larger smallmouth bass and trophy musky can be caught until the take out at Glen Wilton. The Evans Tract is an earthen ramp to the river, but the access at Glen Wilton can handle small jon boats with motors.


Biologist Reports