Setting the Hook: Fishing & Festival Destinations in the South River Watershed

Acclaimed “trout central in the Old Dominion,” the South River waterway through Waynesboro lures visitors with the perfect combination of greenways, trout fisheries, kayak floats, and downtown dining. With a stunning lineup of river-focused festivals and educational offerings, we’re setting the hook. Whether you’re new to fly fishing or passionate about the cold, clear streams of the Shenandoah Valley, this season serves up South River adventures for all.

South River & Fly Fishing Events

Photo courtesy South River Fly Shop

Cast your line for back-to-back weekends of river fun. Some of the best fly fishing in the Valley is right downtown in Waynesboro’s Urban Trout Fishery, where Shenandoah Valley Trout Unlimited has partnered with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to build trout habitat structures and an ongoing conservation legacy.

For an inviting welcome to this destination fishery, join these educational festivals on the banks of the South River. They pair perfectly with river strolls and evening dining beneath the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Fly Fishing Expo — April 27 & 28

Held on the banks of the South River along the greenway in downtown Waynesboro, this two-day festival features schedule-packed, multi-tent presentations to improve and inspire your fly fishing. Learn from the experts with classes on fly casting techniques, kayak fly fishing rigging, four seasons fly fishing, Shenandoah watershed Brookies and Bronzebacks and more.

The South River is a popular destination for fly anglers due to the great fly fishing opportunities and ease of access. One of the goals of the Expo is to provide funding for continued conservation habitat improvements on this great fishery, ensuring that the tips you learn can be applied to exceptional fishing for years to come.

Riverfest — May 4th

Riverfest, Saturday Apri. 30, 2015. (Photo by Norm Shafer).

This on-the-river festival features Reptile World shows, Stream Safari, presentations by the Wildlife Center of Virginia, Fish and Fun Rodeo, canoe rides, kids arts & crafts, stream electro-fishing with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and the always captivating Great South River Duck Race. Dedicated to environmental conservation and watershed stewardship in the Shenandoah River Basin, this family-friendly event promises interactive and educational activities for children of all ages and young-at-heart adults. Check out their full schedule for opportunities to participate in live fish species identification, learn frog calls, and meet the non-releasable falcons of the Virginia Wildlife Center.

Float the Waynesboro Water Trail

Riverfest, Saturday Apri. 30, 2015. (Photo by Norm Shafer).

If you prefer boats over banks for river exploration, the new Waynesboro Water Trail spans a scenie four-mile stretch of the South River with convenient boat ramps at Ridgeview Park and Basic City Park. With Class I and Class II rapids, this stretch offers the perfect mix of trout habitat, beginner-level paddling, and mid-way take outs for shorter float options. Connecting a downtown greenway and four separate city parks, this water trail is open every day sunrise to sunset.

Guides & Outfitters

Tommy Lawhorne works with Robert Dillard, of Winston Salem, N.C. during a guided fishing trip on the South River South River in Waynesboro, Va., Friday, Oct. 14, 2016. (Photo by Norm Shafer).

With half-day and all-day guided services along the South River, as well as expeditions for Shenandoah National Park Native Brook Trout and James River Smallmouth Bass, the South River Fly Shop offers full-service guides that introduce participants to premier fishing locations, providing expert instruction and ensuring that fishing gear is in tip-top form. Their helpful staff can also update you on the latest license requirements and delayed-harvest fishing regulations.

For independent adventurers ready to explore Shenandoah Valley trout streams and regional river floats, local outfitters Rockfish Gap and South River Fly Shop supply kayaks, fishing poles and equipment, bicycles, backpacks, and camping gear. With both sales and rental options available, their family-friendly services will have you floating in no time.

Whether wading, floating, or sitting on the river bank, reel in memories for years to come along the South River waterway.

The Lure of the Outdoors 5 “Ready to Roll” Adventures that Offer Natural Beauty and Easy Access

Late spring is the season of long evening daylight and beckoning weather. Luckily, Waynesboro offers the perfect mountain-town amenities for a sunset jog, a quick afternoon float, or an evening cycle through the Valley. These five adventures promise the mood-boosting benefits of time in nature, while utilizing the accessibility of local parks and backyard trail systems.

(1) Paddle the Waynesboro Water Trail

The Waynesboro Water Trail links five City parks in a four-mile run that includes a mix of Class I and II rapids, wilderness-level solitude, industrial skylines, and downtown take outs. With its surprising views into many unexpected corners of Waynesboro, it’s a unique way of exploring the City while staying cool, shaded, and on the water. Allow 2-3 hours to float the full South River Blueway from Ridgeview Park to Basic Park. A wide diversity of take out options help paddlers break the float into smaller sections or extend their trip to include Grand Caverns Park or the Port Republic confluence with the South Fork of the Shenandoah River.

Recommended water levels for the South River are 2.75’ to 4’ on the USGS Waynesboro Gauge. Or, check with Rockfish Gap Outfitters for the latest water level updates and deals on local kayak rentals.

(2) Stroll through the Parks

There’s not much more satisfying than a run with man’s best friend through open fields past freshly blooming parklands. Coyner Springs Park offers a rustic 145 acres that include nature trails, a leash-free dog park, kite-flying skies, disc golf, and enough wilderness to offer up frequent sightings of red-tailed hawks, woodpeckers, and foxes.

Joggers, baby strollers, and evening walkers find their riverside delights along the South River Greenway, a mile-long stretch of paved walking and biking surface that includes a river overlook, picnic shelter, and downtown access to after-walk drinks and dinner options.

(3) Cycle the Valley

Follow the South River along the base of Sawmill Ridge and the Blue Ridge Mountains in this evening, 12.5 mile bike ride called the Waynesboro Dooms Loop. For a longer, 35-mile pull, the Waynesboro to Grottoes Loop also hugs the river, offering a tour of the inflection between the Valley bottom and Blue Ridge topography, while still promising some of the flattest roads in Augusta County.

Both loops begin and end in downtown Waynesboro, promising enough in-town, gourmet calories to replenish the toughest ride. Cyclists are welcome along all three of Waynesboro Beerwerks Trail brewery destinations.

(4) Downtown Fly Fishing

The dinner-to-adventure jaunt can be shorter than a bike ride, as the South River’s Urban Trout Fishery offers fly fishing opportunities within a block of the downtown cultural core. Rare is the springtime day that a fisherman can’t be seen wading near the improved trout habitat and rock cascades of Constitution Park. Nearby South River Fly Shop offers equipment, gear, guided tours, and “big fish stories,” including a weekly Ties and Lies night. The South River itself offers spring-fed waters, ripping whitewater, easy parking, and exceptional catch-and-release trout fishing opportunities.

(5) Catch the Perfect Sunset (Sunset Park, Humpback Rocks)

Sunset Park, with sweeping views overlooking all of Waynesboro, remains under construction — but don’t be surprised to find weekly contingents of local mountain bikers building trails and readying its amenities for prime time. Outdoor enthusiasts seeking panoramic views needn’t wait, however. The Humpback Rocks trail system offers granite pinnacles in only one mile of climbing, with spectacular views of the Rockfish and Shenandoah Valleys. Longer excursions to Humpback Mountain (2 miles) and to a developed picnic area (4 miles) allows a choose your own adventure that can fit in an after-work nature-reset or expand to an all-day mountain top excursion.

Humpback Rocks trail includes both blue and white blazes, proof of its intersection with the nation’s “premier hiking path,” the 2,000 mile Appalachian Trail that runs from Georgia to Maine. “Day hikers” may encounter thru-hikers part-way through their adventure, with opportunities to swap stories and marvel that some of the mountains’ most breathtaking destinations are but backyard explorations from Waynesboro.

5 Springtime River Adventures for the Whole Family

Spring is the season where the water is up, the warm weather invites, and the natural world bursts with new possibilities. It’s the season for trout fishing Saturdays, festivals and childhood wonder, and of course lazy river floats. If the season has you feeling as restless as the birds, Waynesboro has a golden suite of river and water adventures perfect for the whole family to celebrate spring.

Continue reading “5 Springtime River Adventures for the Whole Family”

Down by the River: Waynesboro, VA’s Top 3 Water Attractions

In Waynesboro, VA, good nature runs deep.  In fact, it flows right through the heart of our downtown.  With the South River at our doorstep and the Blue Ridge Mountains around us, we’re committed to the care and enjoyment of our scenic waterways and greenways.  Come join us down by the river!  Continue reading “Down by the River: Waynesboro, VA’s Top 3 Water Attractions”