Fish Blue Ridge: Big Wilson Creek

County: Grayson
Fishery: Big Wilson Creek
Difficulty: Intermediate to Hard
Town: Independence, Damascus
Attraction: Blue Ridge Discovery Center, Grayson Highlands General Store and Inn

About Big Wilson Creek

Big Wilson Creek, flowing off the eastern slope of Mount Rogers towards the New River, is a mountain trout angler’s paradise. Often called “The Mountain Empire,” the Virginia highlands feature some of Virginia’s most rugged and breathtaking scenery. The once-volcanic Mount Rogers (Virginia’s highest peak) is perched at the pinnacle and Grayson Highlands State Park provides visitors access to miles of hiking trails and trout streams. 

Fishing at Big Wilson Creek

Big Wilson Creek begins at the foot of Wilburn Ridge and expands with tributaries like  Quebec Branch, Wilburn Branch and Little Wilson Creek. All Grayson Highlands State Park streams are regulated and allow only single-point, artificial lures. Additionally, no fish under the nine-inch minimum size can be kept. 

In its headwaters in Grayson Highlands State Park, Big Wilson Creek is a high-gradient mountain stream with native brook trout and wild rainbow trout. Challenges for anglers include boulder hopping and bushwhacking through rhododendron thickets. Big Wilson Creek is the place for cropped 3- and 4-wt. fly rods and short roll and bow-and-arrow casts. A selection of attractor dry flies and nymphs will take fish most of the year but access to the park is intermittent during winter. 

Access the upper drainage via a short hike on the Wilson Creek Trail, which leaves the Hickory Ridge Campground within Grayson Highlands State Park. Access the lower portion of the stream within the state park (and Little Wilson Creek within the Little Wilson Creek Wilderness Area) via Route 817 from Route 58 and by short hikes upstream along the Big Wilson Creek and Little Wilson Trails. 

Outside of Grayson Highlands State Park, Big Wilson Creek is a Category A stocked trout stream and is stocked by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources with rainbow and brown trout eight times from October 1 to May 31. There is roadside access to the stream from Route 817, down Route 58 through the town of Volney, VA.

Things To Do Near Big Wilson Creek

For a deeper dive into the natural history of the region surrounding Big Wilson Creek, visit the Blue Ridge Discovery Center in Troutdale, Va. The Center’s physical centerpiece is a renovated, 17,000-square-foot historic girls’ schoolhouse originally constructed in 1925. Today it houses classrooms, a library and chapel as well as countless researchers, artists and school groups that visit to explore the Blue Ridge Ecoregion. Tours of the facility and the surrounding trails and example native habitats are available upon request. Check out the Blue Ridge Discovery Center website for upcoming naturalist rallies, community programs and volunteer opportunities.

For a bite to eat while navigating the remote, winding mountain roads of Grayson County, stop at the Grayson Highlands General Store and Inn and enjoy their Amish deli and grill. For more commercial food and lodging options, consider the nearby town of Independence, Va. down Route 58.

A trip to the Virginia Highlands is incomplete without a trip to Grayson County and the region’s highest elevations. Thankfully, there are streams full of eager wild trout to take anglers right to the top. https://visitsmythcountyva.com/fish-blue-ridge/

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