Second In Name Only

It may be called Second Creek, but this West Virginia stream offers first- class trout action!

On The Fly Freshwater

Article and photos by Jimmy Jacobs

August 2021

There are a number of factors that set Second Creek apart from much of the trout habitat in the Mountain State. To begin with, the regulations that apply are rare in the state. Second Creek’s public fishing section is open to catch-and-release, fly fishing only. Also, though much of the regulated riparian area is on private property, it is open to the public to fish. Finally, this is a spring creek, offering outstanding conditions for producing aquatic insect life.

The official head of stream is in the unincorporated village of Gap Mills in Monroe County. In this area the waters of Back and Kitchen creeks mingle to form Second Creek. The flow then heads north to become the border with Greenbrier County and then eventually empty into the Greenbrier River just west of the village of Rockland. Along this route, the 1.42-mile public fishing area is located on the county border along Rogers Mill Road (Route 5/1) and Creek Hollow Trail (Rtes. 219/2 & 62/4).

Through this area Second Creek is fairly small, only stretching to widths of 20 to 30 feet in most places. Unlike many spring flows, the bottom is composed mostly of gravel, rather than silt and sand. Also, expect to find lots of shallow water, interspersed with deeper  pools. There is not a lot of gradients to the streambed, so most of current is quite mild.

Second Creek has a lot of calm, slow flowing portions.

The creek’s water has a high pH level that is very accommodating to the insect base of mayflies, caddis flies and midges. Also, there are good numbers of scuds present. This load of forage and gentle flow are reasons Second Creek is noted for producing some big brown trout, since both are factors in good habitat for those fish. Over the years, browns up to 22-inches have been landed from this small flow.

Low, clear water in the colder months make the trout quite visible.

The stream is stocked annually, usually in April. Despite its special regulations, the fishery is a popular one, so don’t expect to have it to yourself, especially on weekends. The other downside factor is the water in the creek gets quite low and warm during the summer months, and again low and crystal clear in the winter. Obviously, the best time to hit this stream is in spring when insects are most prevalent, or fall when the brown trout spawn, though it can be fished year-round.

Targeting one of the few riffle areas on Second creek.

On the most recent trip when the On The Fly crew challenged these waters, it was in the late fall. The water levels were already beginning to fall, which created some tough fishing situations. In some of the broad, shallower runs, as well as the deeper bend pools, it was possible to see and sight cast to fish in the extremely clear water. On the other hand, you needed a great deal of stealth in approaching the water and, if you set foot in it, the advancing ripples easily sent the wary trout scurrying away.

We started at the parking area off Rogers Mill Road, where the creek bends away from the pavement and flows a quarter mile down to the point a cable across the stream marked the end of public access. At the parking area there is a large wooden sign identifying the stream and its fly fishing only regulation. Smaller signs with more detailed rules were posted along the stream.

Portions of the stream bank are private, but allow access. Just respect the owners rights and leave no trace.

Walking down the creek, the trail skirted a barn and pasture, while giving us vantage points to survey the pools and runs. Once at the cable, we began fishing back upstream, paying special attention to the few places where there were riffles with a bit of depth to them. Those, at least, provided a bit of broken surface to hide us from the trout.  In the calmer water, where fish were occasionally rising, avoiding spooking our prey was rather difficult. Still, Associate Editor Polly Dean managed the first hook up on a nice 13-inch brown on a dry fly.

Polly Dean with her 13-inch brown from Second Creek.

This lower portion of the flow is the only part that is not paralleled by a paved road, so it no doubt gets a little less fishing pressure. From our parking site upstream for just over a mile the creek is virtually at road side its entire length.

With regard to flies, there are a number of patterns that are locally recommended. For dry fly action, you might tie on a size 16 Adams, a Gray Fox, tied either with a standard or a parachute wing, in sizes 12 to 16 or, if the fish are being really picky, a Sparkle Dun in sizes 18 to 22. An Elk-hair Caddis in size 16 is another option.

Subsurface a Hare’s Ear Nymph tied with a black body in sizes 12 to 16 is popular. If you are after one of the big browns, a beadhead, Flash Zonker streamer pattern just might be your ticket to success.

For a bit of local knowledge or some flies or other gear for Second Creek, reach out to Craig Miller at Serenity Now Outfitters in Lewisburg to tap into his expertise on Second Creek.