When Derrick Barr’s grandfather bought into Escatawba Farms outside of Covington, Virginia in 1945, he surely did not imagine it would become one of the premier private trout fisheries in Virginia. For over a decade, Barr has been providing fly fishermen the opportunity to hook into big browns, bows and brookies on the 2.5 mile portion of Dunlap Creek that meanders through Escatawba.
The cool waters of Dunlap originate from a series of natural springs in Sweet Springs, WV and flow 12 miles to the property border, fed by five other spring creeks along the way, along with another five that feed it on the farm. This keeps the water temperature cool enough for stocked trout to hold over the hot summer months and grow into some major pigs. Along with the stockers, however, is a significant population of native brook trout. Barr has also invested time and money into improvements to the creek, including installing stone J-hooks to provide a better habitat for the fish. The design and installation of the J-hooks was supervised by the Virginia Game Commission and a stream restoration biologist to make them as natural as possible.
All this adds up to some banging dry fly action as you can see.
The fish are big and plentiful, but fishing here is no walk in the park. Although the stream is bigger than one might expect, the water is clear and the trout wily. They will spook, so presentation is still the number one tool to hooking into that trophy. Barr says to take your time fishing the pockets and move slowly to maximize the time your line is in the water.
Now, Escatawba will cost you a rod fee, but Barr has set up his operation to maximize customer satisfaction. Anglers on the water are limited to eight a day, so even if the stream is at “capacity” you will not have to battle for position. There is also a stream-side shelter with a fire pit, grill, picknick tables and hammocks for a mid-day snooze. Basically everything you would ever need for a day on the water.
For more information, check out their website at www.escatawba.com. You’ll be glad you did.