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Trip length: 12.84 miles
Scottsville to Hardware River WMA is supposed to be some of the best fishing on the James. We didn't pull in any whoppers, but we did do better than we have in other sections so far. Also, it was obvious there were a lot of fish through this stretch. Jason still didn't catch much, but was able to spot a lot of good size bass, gar and catfish in the water, including a huge school of 1.5'+ fish shortly after we launched. Late in the day we found a hole on the north bank with some carp the size of hogs. We couldn't entice them with anything, but it's just as well... they probably would have broken our rods. Along this stretch we saw some guys who had left their boat and were in the water noodling for giant cats. It must have been a good area for it, because Jason saw a dozen or so 15-pound+ catfish swimming near where they were. We were only able to hook into some smallmouths, none of the big fish. One great thing about this stretch that really makes it stand out from a lot of the river downstream is the amount of structure that exists for fish to hide in. There's a stretch of the river where there are a lot of islands that break up the trip and make for an interesting paddle. If you want the least amount of rapids, hug the river left all the way through this area. Taking the middle channel through the river there is a class III with a pinning rock at the end of the island chain that is best left alone if you're just interested in fishing. More experienced boaters that have highly maneuverable boats might enjoy it though. This is a great day trip from Richmond or Charlottesville. If you really want to fish and don't care about mileage, consider going from Scottsville to Hardware River WMA. Of the stretch we did, this first half of the trip has the best fishing. Having to go from Hardware to Bremo Bluff means less time fishing during the first half to make sure you're off the water by dark.