By: Chris Shaffer

Tis the season when massive trout plants are taking place in Southwest Virginia. Near the top of that list is Crooked Creek, a place that is stocked several times a week by the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries. The creek is in excellent shape this spring and pushing out easy limits to anglers with the proper gear.

We recently finished filming an episode of Pautzke Outdoors here and caught and released plenty of trout on a day where heavy rain showed and the creek was rising fast. Crowds were minimal due to the storm, but are back to full force now. Expect heavy pressure on stocking days and weekends. Meanwhile, keep in mind that more fish are being released almost every other day. There’s always fish to be caught.

We targeted the same public access points everyone else does. If you’re coming to Crooked Creek keep in mind there’s no reason to use anything heavier than four-pound test. Unless a big storm has come through the creek is clear and trout can be line shy due to a ton of pressure. Lighter line equals more bites. In addition, hook size is also important. This means it’s best to employ size 10-14 single salmon egg hooks. We used Eagle Claw hooks because they are readily available. Stick to one-to-two Water Gremlin BB split shots. Anything larger and you risk spooking the trout.

Unfortunately one of the holes we were fishing had a few guys standing in the water right next to the trout. This spooks the fish. They were also using plastic worms and lures large enough for bass. When this happens it’s best to move to another hole. Those trout will likely be spooked for some time. Not surprisingly, once the two anglers left the hole and went to the concession stand for lunch the fish starting biting again. Downsize and you’ll catch more fish.

Our success came on a few baits. The two top producers were Yellow Jacket salmon eggs and molding Peach Garlic and Garlic Salmon Egg Fire Bait together. However, we also caught trout on Pink Shrimp Fire Balls. We wanted to use staples like the Gold Label and Premium eggs and had them with us, but the other baits produced so well we didn’t need to. We each caught and released a limit within a few hours even after the two anglers spooked the hole.

The VA DGIF did a good job at stocking the creek with various sizes. We didn’t catch many dinks. Most of the trout were rainbows and 11-12 inches. We also caught a few trout up to about four pounds and one small brown trout. Keep in mind trout are stocked at obvious access points where the truck be emptied. Anglers walking up and downstream of these areas maintain success while also finding serenity. Most anglers focus on fishing close to the parking areas.

Editor’s Note: Pautzke products are available at Bass Pro and all Southwest and Northern Virginia Walmart locations. A day permit is required to fish Crooked Creek in addition to a valid Virginia fishing license. For more info: