Author Topic: Trip Report: Whitetop Laurel, Virginia  (Read 4556 times)

eastcoastlurker

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Trip Report: Whitetop Laurel, Virginia
« on: May 29, 2012, 09:16:32 PM »
Hello again!

Last year with your unwitting assistance (hence my screen name) I had an enjoyable and productive trip to the Eastern Sierra.  In the trip report--apparently I missed something…are these archived anywhere?--it was suggested that East Coast trip reports might be appreciated.

Last week I made a long-overdue first trip to one of the largest and best wild trout streams in Virginia, Whitetop Laurel (yes, just like that, it doesn’t have a River/Creek/Run/Branch/etc).  It is located in the far southwest of Virginia, near the Tennessee border and is part of the Tennessee River System.  This region is known as the Virginia Highlands, and is unusual in Virginia in that the dominant wild trout in the area is the introduced rainbow rather than the native Eastern Brook.  Whitetop Laurel has two special regulation sections that are accessed easily from the Virginia Creeper Trail, an old logging railbed that is now a popular biking trail. 

It’s about 30 yards across at most points.  The area gets a fair amount of rain and the banks are dense with rhododendron and mountain laurel--an equivalent western environment might be a Pacific Northwest coastal stream.   (pictures attached)

The special reg sections have a large population of 10-12 inch rainbows.  The browns are fewer and larger.  Most of the fish I caught were rainbows, with a few browns, and a lone brookie.  This matched the three-species day I had last summer on Upper Rock Creek.  Unfortunately or perhaps fortunately depending on how you look at it, there are no more introduced species to constitute a Slam.  First fish was a 14-inch brown, the first of two on the day.  Last cast of the day was a 14-inch bow.  (pictures attached)

The special regs for this section are single-hook artificial lures only, 12-inch minimum for creeling.  Angler surveys suggest that almost all fishermen are catch-and-release and indeed the larger fish show signs of previous capture (lip damage, line marks on flanks).  Also, they don’t waste time running, they leap two feet in the air and shake the lure back at you—you get the sense they know what they are doing.  Most fly-fish here;  I don’t, and caught all fish on dark-colored spinners.

I hope the attachments work.  Let me know if they don't.

OldSarge

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Re: Trip Report: Whitetop Laurel, Virginia
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2012, 09:32:21 PM »
Welcome Aboard!

I, for one, welcome the other-than-Sierra trip reports. Never know when I'll be travelling to parts east, and like to know of opportunities like yours.

Looks like you had a fine day.

OldSarge
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eastcoastlurker

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Re: Trip Report: Whitetop Laurel, Virginia
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2012, 09:50:27 PM »
On the return home I stopped at a native brook trout stream, Stewarts Creek, which is located about 50 miles east of Whitetop Laurel, on the southeast slope of the Blue Ridge near the North Carolina border.  It is managed by the Commonwealth of Virginia for catch-and-release.  The environment is much different—the stream is 10-15 feet across and the deepest pools will not overtop hip waders.  This is typical of the small-stream habitat of brook trout in the mountains of Mid-Atlantic and Southern states.  Basically the only approach viable approach is straight upstream—you can’t cast overhead for the trees, or avoid scaring the fish, any other way.  I caught a 10-inch native from a pretty little pool (pictures attached). 

Again, thank you for your help with my trip to Mammoth last summer.  My fishing experience on the East Coast does not extend beyond Virginia (trout and smallmouth bass), but I'll be happy answer any questions I can.

Creek Dude

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Re: Trip Report: Whitetop Laurel, Virginia
« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2012, 09:51:58 PM »
YEah, very cool to get reports from other areas...welcome...
"Rock the Creek." - Hardrock

Mcgee Dude

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Re: Trip Report: Whitetop Laurel, Virginia
« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2012, 12:24:58 AM »
Great Report! It's nice to hear about reports other than from the Sierra!

Good looking Fish!

 :goodpost:
Still waiting on my RCL Club Patch!

wshawkins

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Re: Trip Report: Whitetop Laurel, Virginia
« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2012, 07:48:29 AM »
I agree, it's great to hear of other reports from out of the Sierra.  Thanks for sharing.
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

Little Hardrock

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Re: Trip Report: Whitetop Laurel, Virginia
« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2012, 07:53:00 AM »
I wanna go!   

I've heard about the railbeds that have been converted to bike trails.. ..  need to try one out:)
Hardrock, may his spirit live on in all of us.....