After much anticipation, Mossy Creek Fly Fishing is open in its new location on the corner of Rte 33 and Reservoir Street. The red brick building at 480 East Market Street received a complete renovation over the past year, and is now a haven for fisherman and outdoor enthusiasts alike. The fly shop was previously located near Kroger, but the owners decided to look downtown when they began considering an expansion.
Owners and twin brothers Colby and Brian Trow purchased this historic home in early 2016 knowing that it would draw visitors and be better suited for clients wishing to experience the city after a guided fishing trip. The shop is only a three-minute walk to Main Street where anglers can enjoy a one-of-a-kind experience in downtown’s culinary district or try a craft brew from any of the local breweries. In fact, Mossy Creek recently waded into a partnership with Three Notched Brewing Company to launch a Mossy Creek Brown Ale so that clients can slip out of their waders after a day afloat on the river and walk across the street to top off the excursion.
Throughout the renovation process, no detail was overlooked. “When we first started, it was kind of hard to visualize exactly how we would best use the space for retail,” says Colby. But, as I glance around at the beautiful array of fly rods and flies displayed in hand-crafted holders and shelves, it’s clear they nailed it. “We had the help of our friends at Sustainable Solutions, who helped us bring the concept full circle,” he says. Yes, at long last, the project is complete and serves as one of the most unique fly-shop experiences one can find anywhere.
As I continue browsing the shop, I notice an antique tailgate protruding out of the wall in the waders section of the store, hinting at shoppers to slow down, take a load off, and spin their yarns much the same way they would after a day spent on a local trout stream. Adding to the vintage look are wooden countertops and original hardwood floors throughout, expertly crafted wooden shelving racks, exposed beams interwoven with LED lighting, and enough merchandise to occupy at least the better part of your intended day on the river.
The former house turned Mossy Creek Fly Shop is aptly named the Harrisonburg Antebellum Home, and was built in the early 1800s. The Trows’ good friend, Erica Lewis, has taken an active role in helping them learn about the history of the home – which housed a former Harrisonburg councilman – and steps have been taken to add the home to the National Historic Register. In short, this is a must-visit fly shop, offering some of the most popular brands and largest selection of fly-fishing gear, apparel, tackle, and swag. In addition to the standard must-haves, the store will feature Yeti products and versatile outdoor clothing.
Along with the excellent array of products, Mossy Creek specializes in personalized guide services. They have a large and growing following of enthusiasts who want to learn how to fly fish, and how to tie their own flies and streamers. “Part of the reason we began looking to relocate was also the need for a larger space,” says Trow. “At the Kroger location, we had one main level and only one small room in the back. We were running out of room for offices, storage, and our popular fly-tying classes. Now, we have an upstairs area designated for our growing e-commerce business, storage, and a whole area just for classes.”
As we head up a freshly lacquered staircase, an American flag proudly hangs on the wall reminding guests of the freedoms they enjoy every day on the water. In fact, the Trows have played host to military commanders, leaders, and veterans who find solace from the storms of life on the river. The Trows have engaged such leaders as Gordon England and Michael P. Mullin, and they support Project Healing Waters, a program dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and veterans. With smallmouth bass, musky, carp, and trout guided fly-fishing trips being their specialties, other clients range from country musicians such as Luke Bryan to youth just delving into the sport.
Graduates of JMU, the two brothers opened Mossy Creek in 2003 and have taken the business to new levels of success. Winning awards, making films, and pleasing clients along each bend of their journey, the Trows have much to be proud of. Their 2014 film, Blood Knot, took top honors in The Drake Magazine’s 2014 Flyfishing Video Awards. Featured across the country at major fly-fishing events, the film depicts the fishing opportunities in the Shenandoah Valley, as well as the Trow’s expertise and ability to offer clients an experience usually reserved for more remote areas of the country. The film was shown nationally on the Fly Fishing Film Tour and was also shown at a packed house in Ruby’s Lounge among other local venues.
Showcasing what the Valley has to offer is important to Mossy Creek. They’ve developed strong partnerships with Harrisonburg Tourism and hospitality groups to promote Harrisonburg as a destination for relaxation, adventure, and some ridiculous experiences on the water. As I’m talking to Brian and Colby, an exuberant fly fisherman from New Mexico shows pictures of the gigantic Brown he caught on Mossy Creek earlier in the day. “His family owns one of the largest elk ranches in the country,” Brian says, after the guy leaves the store. There’s little need to explain the draw for anglers from far and wide to come to the Valley. It’s evident that word has gotten out about our wonderful rivers and streams we are lucky to have in our backyard. If you are interested in a guided trip, plan ahead. They book well in advance due to their popularity. Also, check out our local accommodations for your stay. Many of them offer travel packages.
Mossy Creek Fly Fishing will be celebrating their new location with a grand reopening event on Saturday, September 23rd. Follow their Facebook page for updates.
Best of luck on the water!
Written by Derek Blyer. Derek is a Public Relations major and an active volunteer with HDR. In his spare time, he enjoys the outdoors, family and friends, writing, great food, and being able to help others.