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Beaver Creek: Local Fish in a Neglected Urban Trout Fishery

By Matt Reilly

Photos by Matt Reilly

For many anglers in Old Dominion, trout fishing is synonymous with a remote experience – with rock-strewn Blue Ridge streams filled with brook trout, mighty wild rainbows in national forest and stocked trout in the largest streams in the bottom of the Shenandoah Valley. Travel in town is reserved for shopping and “urban fisheries” for those located far from mountain trout fishing. Beaver Creek in Washington County could change that paradigm.

Located within the city limits of Bristol, Virginia, Beaver Creek is a spring-fed creek that flows a long distance through Virginia and Tennessee before feeding into Lake Boone south of the state line . Of note for anglers, Beaver Creek is accessible to the public where it crosses popular Sugar Hollow Park.

Within the park, Beaver Creek first gained attention as a stream restoration project many years ago and was an unmanaged fishery.

Active management of the creek’s fisheries began in 2017, when the trout fishery was established through fingerling stocking, according to DWR Region 3 Fisheries Biologist Steve Owens. Beaver Creek was added to the DWR’s list of managed trout waters in 2018 as a catch-and-release fishery, which takes into account consumption advisories placed on the watershed by the Department of Health, and annual stockings of rainbow and brown trout continue to support the population. As with all Virginia trout catch-and-release fisheries, anglers are limited to single-hook artificial lures at Beaver Creek.

“Beaver Creek is a unique fishery in that it is located near an increasingly urban area and in a popular park that offers ball diamonds, hiking/biking trails, picnic areas picnic and even a campsite. This allows for angling opportunities that can be mixed in with other outdoor activities and are perfect for families,” said Owens. “The creek is large enough to easily fish with a fly rod or spinning gear with single hook artificial lures. Anglers should concentrate their efforts downstream of the TVA dry dam to the lower boundary of the park.

Fly anglers would be best suited with a four or five weight fly rod and a selection of nymphs, streamers and land dry flies, which can often provide some of the most exciting fishing on a pastoral spring creek. . Anglers would be wise to pack an ultralight or light action rod loaded with a box of spinners and trout magnets. Just be sure to replace treble hooks with single hooks as per regulations.

This spring, consider taking a side trip to the phenomenal mountain trout fishery of southwest Virginia to discover a hidden fishery in plain sight. Or pack the kids, plan a picnic, and take a few walking sticks to the park for an afternoon of co-ed fun. Don’t forget to watch your backcast for walkers and cyclists.


Matt Reilly is a full-time freelance writer, outdoor columnist, and fly fishing guide based in Southwest Virginia.