James River - VA

Fishing Outlook & Conditions

Water Temp:


Orvis's Tip of the Week

Chuck Kraft bugs have been the ticket as of late. Plop those down and let them ride. Some of the biggest fish of the season are being caught on top right now.

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Map of James River

Water Flow Data

Tidal Conditions

5-Day Outlook as of 9/15/22

Clear skies for the next week at least. Water levels are low and clear again. Summer conditions look like they are sticking around for a bit longer.

Techniques & Tips as of 9/15/22

Fish those cork bugs in the foam lines along structure near the bank. Fish are keyed in on those big cicadas as if they are about to be gone for the season. Break out that intermediate fly line and really get that fly in the zone. Strip that baitfish pattern hard a couple of times and let it pause and hang in the water for a second. This really gives the fish a chance to see that "wounded" baitfish as an easy meal. You'd be surprised how well this works.

Local Species Available

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    Smallmouth Bass

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Orvis's Recommended Fly Patterns

"Must-have" fly fishing patterns in descending order of importance:

Name: Colors: Size(s):
Sneaky Pete Popper Olive 4
Josh's Wiggle Hellgrammite Black 1
Classic Frog
Clouser Minnow Chartreuse/White 1/0
Finesse Gamechanger White 2
Dahlburg Diver Frog Green 1
Claw dad Brown 2
Todd's Wiggle Minnow White 2

Sneaky Pete Popper

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Orvis's Recommended Gear

Description: About James River

Ranked as one of the top Smallmouth Rivers on the east coast, the middle/upper James also gives the angler a chance at spotted and largemouth bass. The area above Lynchburg will see the opportunity for Musky. The James is broken up by its numerous rock gardens, grass beds and riffles. Then where the river drops you will encounter up to class 3 rapids. The James is a year round fishery with the best fishing being May through October. Baitfish and crayfish are the smallmouth’s main sources of protein. The summer months see the fish feeding on damsels, dragon flies and cicadas. The summer flows also offer the best and safest wading opportunities. The James is managed as a trophy Smallmouth fishery (all smallmouth 14 to 22 inches must be released), Smallmouth up to five pounds is common, but the average size James River Smallmouth is 14-15 inches. Rich in American history the James is often referred to as “America’s River”. Along its banks you’ll notice the rail road tracts which are laid on the tow path of the Kanawha Canal. One of if not the last poled ferry’s is at Hatton just up river of Scottsville.

Nearest Airport:

Roanoke Regional Airport


Shiners Crayfish Hellgrammites Dragonflies Damselflies

Best Time to Fish:

Morning to late afternoon

Best Stretch:

Glen Wilton to Arcadia

Best Access: