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44 years ago, on the banks of the South Branch of the Potomac River near Moorefield, WV,   was a little boy just beginning to walk,  crawling around peeking out of an tent.  His parents had visited this place year after year with their parents and had formed many wonderful memories on this river bank in the beautiful panhandle West Virginia.  Pictures of that wide eyed baby peeking out of a tent, and sitting on his father’s lap with a stringer of beautiful smallmouth bass have been images of my childhood that have formed the love of rivers and the outdoors for me over 4 decades ago.  Times have changed in forty plus years.  What used to be farmland where my parents would pitch their tent now is a well cared for public access that anyone can go to and enjoy.   I now have a family of my own with a wife and 4 great kids.  The fact that I can today still go back to the places that my parents took me many years ago, Is such a blessing.  To float the same waters with my father 40 years later along with my wife and kids is a treasure that many don’t get the chance to experience.  Traveling the roads in the area with my parents and having them relive and pass on stories of the past with me and their grandchildren is priceless to say the least.  

  Over the past few years the South Branch is a destination that has become a favorite of my family.  We travel over the mountains to Romney, Wv  with our kayaks and travel trailer and spend the first week after school is out with my family and friends at Wapocoma campground on the banks of the South Branch of the Potomac.  This spot is perfectly positioned to take in the beauty of West Virginia.   Spectacular views, abundant wildlife and great fishing are just a few of the reasons this area is a must see part of our beautiful state.   Steep ravines on both sides of the river define an area  on the South Branch of the Potomac called the Trough. This roughly 7 mile section of the river with steep mountains on both sides,  incredible rock formations and multiple bald eagle sightings can be experienced in a couple ways.  One is a railroad tour on the Potomac Eagle, a passenger train that takes one through the valley and along the river,  But my favorite is on the water with family and friends in the seat of a kayak.  

While the trough is the most famous of the South branch floats there are many public access sites and great fishing from Petersburg, Wv all the way to where it dumps into the Potomac River at the West Virginia Maryland border.  Most of my time on the river has been from Petersburg, Wv to Romney, WV.  There is no lack of action for the kayak angler wanting to spend the day floating this beautiful river.  Although not known for its trophy smallmouth, one can expect to tie into many average fish per day with the occasional 18” plus not uncommon.  On our most recent trip this past June there were 5 fish caught that ranged from 17 to 21 inches over the course of 5 days fishing.  This river offers so much more than just good fishing.  Spending the day floating down the clear mountain river with family and friends, swimming, fishing, sightseeing and just enjoying time with each other in one of the most beautiful rivers in the country is what keep me coming back year after year.  

     While anytime I am on the river in my kayak, fishing is going to be high on my priority list, the most important is the time we invest in our relationships with our family and friends.  Catching fish will always come in a distant second to seeing the smile on your kids faces while doing something that you love.  I am so thankful to have parents who took the time to invest in me and instill in me the love and respect for God’s creation.  My job is now to pass that onto my kids and make sure they know where it all began for me!