Dan River - Fishing Opportunities
Beginning in the mountainous Patrick County, the Dan River begins north of U.S. Highway 58 and slightly northeast of the Meadows of Dan. In this section of the river you will find fishing for native brook trout in waters classified as wild trout waters by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Just above and below U. S. Highway 58 the river is a put-and-take trout stream - Category B. Traveling farther east, the river flows through a deep gorge within the Pinnacles Hydroelectric Project owned by the City of Danville. This area has been dubbed the Grand Canyon of Virginia, rugged and spectacular country that appeals to the hardy. It is in this area that the trout fishing becomes first class for rainbow and brown trout in the six-mile section between Talbott Dam and Townes Reservoir. To reach the upper stretches of this prize water take Secondary routes 614 and 601 south from the Meadows of Dan to Talbott Dam. The stream becomes still water once it enters the reservoir and the lower stretches are best reached by boat across Townes Reservoir. Ramps for hand-carried boats are found on both lakes. The river fishing here is maintained by natural reproduction of brown, brook and rainbow trout. The rainbows range from 8-12 inches and the browns may reach 18 inches. The stream from Townes Dam to the Pinnacles Powerhouse has been designated as catch-and-release trout water. Secondary Route 648 off of Routes 773 and 103 leads to the powerhouse where you can get a free permit to fish all the sections of the Dan River and the reservoirs within the Pinnacles Hydroelectric Project. These permits are also available from the City of Danville, Director of Electric Division, Department of Utilities, P. O. Box 33007, Danville, VA 24543, telephone 434/799-5270.
The Dan from the powerhouse several miles downstream (Kibler Valley) is a popular Category A put-and-take trout stream. The trout fishing eventually fades as the river passes under Route 103 and flows into North Carolina. The river flows back into Virginia a few miles west of Danville, Virginia as a slow flowing Southside Virginia stream. Fishing is generally limited to catfish, largemouth bass, and several kinds of sunfish. The only boat access is found just off of U. S. Highway 29 (Memorial Drive) at Dan River Park on the south side of the river just upstream from the Primary Route 51 Bridge. Boats launched here can go upstream, but are blocked from downstream by a series of dams within the city limits. There is some bank fishing for catfish, bass and sunfish in the city stretch of the river.
The landlocked striped bass fishing the Dan is noted for begins east of the city with the city of Danville access point and launching ramp just downstream from the Water Pollution Control Plant. This ramp was built as a joint effort between the Dan River Anglers Association and the city of Danville.
The river flows back into North Carolina for approximately five miles before re-entering Virginia. Thanks to a reciprocal agreement, anglers can fish in North Carolina and Virginia from the Brantley Steam Plant Dam downstream to and throughout J. H. Kerr Reservoir. They can also use the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission access point and ramp just off of Primary Route 62 near Milton, NC.
Downstream, Department of Game and Inland Fisheries ramps at South Boston, Hyco and Staunton River State Park offer access to the river. Access is also possible at an undeveloped access area at Aarons Creek. Typically, anglers fishing the lower reaches of the Dan do not float from one launching ramp to another, but using outboard motors fish up or downstream from the access point, putting in and taking out at the same ramp.
Migratory fish running out of J. H. Kerr Reservoir (Buggs Island Lake) and flathead and blue catfish are the heart of the lower Dan River fishing. Walleye begin moving as early as January, and the white perch and white bass begin to migrate when the dogwoods bloom in early April. The most popular is the striped bass run that begins in late April and continues through May. There is also some winter fishing for walleyes.
Few rivers offer a wider variety of angling opportunities than the Dan.
For more fishing information see narrative for sections under Maps.