Trout stocking season opened yesterday.
As I mentioned in a note in my column today in The Roanoke Times, some fishermen have expressed concern about how expansion of the Roanoke River Greenway in Salem might impact stocking in that popular put-and-take section.
One of those guys is a regular correspondent who has been complaining about the greenway for years.
I am an unapologetic greenway fan. I believe the greenway gets people out and about and is a great, easily accessible gateway to outdoors physical activity.
I also believe it has enhanced access to the river. After all, it’s a path that follows the riverbank.
The greenway critic disagrees, at least when the topic is trout fishing.
He says that it has hurt fishermen because, among other reasons, they now must park in designated spots and walk farther to fishing holes. The new section in Salem, for example, is an area where fishermen were able to simply pull off the road and walk directly to the river. They can’t do that now.
He also questions whether stocking crews are doing as well as they once could in spreading fish out. I would argue they should be doing better — but to do so will involve coordination with gatekeepers so the truck can actually get on the greenway.
I don’t disagree that, for someone who is truly mobility-impaired, there are limited spots to fish the stocked section of the river. But are there fewer spots than there were prior to the greenway? Let’s face it, rivers are not, generally speaking, easy to access for people with impaired mobility. But is the concern really about people who are physically unable to walk to the riverbank to fish? Or about people who simply don’t want to walk much at all to fish?
I admit I’m not the best judge here. I like to fish the river in the summer for sunfish and bass, and the greenway has made it easier for me to get to more river without having to break out my canoe. It hasn’t hurt my trout fishing, but I’m not a regular. And when I do fish I don’t mind walking.
So, I pose the question to you readers who regularly fish the Roanoke for trout. Is fishing worse now than it was prior to the greenway? Better? Why?
What suggestions might you have for improving the Roanoke River fishery, not only for trout, but for other species?