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South River

There are actually two South rivers that originate in Augusta County.  One begins as St. Marys River and flows south into the Maury River, but the one featured on this webpage starts near the village of Greenville and flows approximately 50 miles north and joins the North River to form the South Fork Shenandoah River.  Upstream of the City of Waynesboro, South River can be characterized as a small, low-gradient, meandering stream.  As it approaches Waynesboro, large springs begin to cool the river, increase flow, and increase productivity.   The South River offers both warmwater and coldwater (trout) fishing opportunities.

Warmwater Fishing

The river harbors good numbers of smallmouth bass, redbreast sunfish, rock bass, fallfish and even a few largemouth bass from near Lyndhurst downstream to the confluence with the North River in Port Republic.   Anglers might also catch bluegill, green sunfish, channel catfish, carp, white sucker, or black crappie while exploring the river.

Trout Fishing

There are five separate sections of South River that fall under different trout management programs and are managed with different regulations.  They are listed in order from upstream of Waynesboro downstream to Grottoes.

  1. In the Lyndhurst area upstream of Waynesboro Trout Unlimited has partnered with several private landowners to open a 3 mile section of stream to public fishing.  This section is stocked annually with fingerling rainbow and brown trout by VDGIF and the South River Fly Shop stocks adult trout primarily in the spring.  Regulations are fly fishing only and al trout <20 inches must be released.  Only one trout >20 inches may be harvested per day.  A free permit is required to fish this section.
  2. The section of South River within Ridgeview Park in the City of Waynesboro is managed as a Designated Stocked Trout Water.  
  3. The 2 mile reach from Wayne Avenue downstream through Constitution Park to 2nd Street in North Park in the City of Waynesboro is managed as a Catch and Release Stocked Trout Water. A “greenway” walking trail parallels the stream for the upper half of this section.
  4. A ¼ mile reach of South River within Basic Park (City of Waynesboro) is a Youth Only Stocked Trout Water April 1 – June 15. Only youth age 15 and younger can fish during this time period.
  5. The reach from Grand Caverns Park downstream to Grottoes Town Park is managed as a Designated Stocked Trout Water.

Maps & Directions

Float Trips

Constitution Park to North Park or Basic Park
Paddlers can put in at Constitution Park near the Main Street bridge, and float one mile to North Park Map or 1.7 miles to Basic Park Map. This float is characterized by an urban setting with homes and industry lining the banks. Trout fishing is good through this reach, though, so be sure to carry your trout license with you from October 1 – June 15.

Basic Park to Crimora ParkMap
This is a long float of 7.5 miles, characterized by gentle riffles and rolling farmland. Stray trout can be caught (no trout license needed here), as well as smallmouth bass, rock bass, and redbreast sunfish. Some beautiful rock outcrops begin to show up in the river loop around the Department of Forestry’s tree farm.

Crimora Park to Grand CavernsMap
This is a very long float around 10 miles long. The trip can be broken up by taking out at the Harriston Bridge (Route 778), but this is not an official public access. The river winds through a beautiful reach of forested riverbanks and farms, with very good fishing opportunities. Smallmouth bass fishing gets better in this river reach due to excellent habitat and good water quality.

Grand Caverns to Grottoes Town ParkMap
A short evening float of 2.1 miles, this is also one of the more challenging pieces of South River. As the paddler approaches Grottoes, large upright thrusts of limestone create some Class 2 rapids. For the skilled canoeist, there are a series of these towering outcrops within the Town of Grottoes itself. The Department stocks trout from Grand Caverns to Grottoes, so a trout license is needed when floating this reach. Some quality largemouth bass and large carp can be caught in this section. The Town of Grottoes has developed a beautiful park on river right, complete with a DGIF boat landing.

Grottoes to Port RepublicMap
This is also a short float of 2 miles, so it can be combined with the Grand Caverns float to make a longer fishing trip. This is an easy paddle, with great bass and sunfish angling. Take out is at the DGIF boat landing on river right as South River joins North River to form the South Fork Shenandoah River.

Fishing Opportunities

Special Regulation Trout Fishing:

Put-and take trout fishing:
Ridgeview Park, Waynesboro
Grand Caverns Park
Grottoes Town Park

Catch and Release trout fishing:
Constitution Park, Waynesboro
North Park, Waynesboro

Youth Only Stocked Trout Fishing:
Basic Park, Waynesboro

Smallmouth bass, largemouth bass:
From Constitution Park to Port Republic

Biologist Reports


Statewide Freshwater Fishing License required year-round.
Special Trout License required October 1st through June 15th.
Creel Limit: 6 trout per day
Size Limit: 7 inch minimum

Catch and Release Trout Area in Waynesboro between Wayne Ave. and North Park

Statewide Freshwater Fishing License required year-round.
Special Trout License required October 1st through June 15th.
Catch and Release, no bait, single hook artificial lure only, year-round

Youth Only Stocked Trout Area

Basic Park, Waynesboro
April 1 through June 15
Youth age 15 and under only
Creel limit: 3 trout per day

Warmwater Fish

(entire river)
Smallmouth bass, largemouth bass:
Creel Limit: 5 per day combined
Size Limit: None

Sunfish, rock bass:

Creel Limit: 50 per day combined
Size Limit: None

There is a fish consumption advisory (mercury) for all species in South River, except for trout. It is recommended by the Virginia Department of Health that no fish be eaten from this river except trout. For more information go to:
Virginia Department of Health


There is a universal fishing pier as well as restroom facilities at Ridgeview Park in Waynesboro. North Park, Grand Caverns, Grottoes Town Park, Constitution and Basic Park all have restrooms. There are DGIF boat landings at Grottoes Town Park, Port Republic, Constitution and Basic Park. A family park has recently been built by Augusta County Parks and Recreation at Crimora.


Mercury contamination has plagued South River from 1929 until present from Waynesboro to Port Republic. Scientists and citizens from academia, industry, government, and NGO’s have pooled their resources to try to understand how this pollutant behaves in South River. The South River Science Team has been in existence since 2000, and has studied many biological, chemical, hydrologic, and physical aspects of the river in an attempt to reduce the risk of mercury contamination to humans and animals. To find out more about this organization and its findings, some of their newsletters can be read at: South River Science Team

The Grottoes Police Department and DGIF co-sponsor Chief Charlie’s Kid’s Fishing Day every spring at Grottoes Town Park. Fishing, food, and fun are FREE to kids 15 years and younger. See listing of DGIF sponsored kid’s fishing days link for more specific information.

Riverfest is also held every April in Constitution Park in Waynesboro. This event is a community celebration of South River and is full of food, exhibits, demonstrations, canoe rides, and art. Their website is: Riverfest

Grand Caverns is home to some of the most intriguing caves in Virginia. In addition to some interesting cavern tours, the Living Cave/Living River exhibit is a marvelous way to educate yourself how our water resources are affected on and below the earth’s surface. Take a look at the video at: Grand Caverns

The Grottoes Police Department and DGIF co-sponsor Chief Charlie’s Kid’s Fishing Day on the first Saturday of May at Grottoes Town Park. Fishing, food, and fun are FREE to kids 15 years and younger. If your youngster does not have a fishing rod or tackle, they will be provided.