Updated: Jul 17, 2020
A “native” treasure of Shenandoah National Park (SNP)
If you read my blog you know that I love fishing for trout in my own backyard – the more adventurous the better (https://www.therockettman.com/post/my-own-backyard-paradise). Fishing the SNP definitely ticks the adventure box, and while the park is a bit beyond my “backyard”, there are trout waters within it that I can reach inside of 90 minutes from my home.
One of the spectacular beauties of the SNP is the native or brook trout. There is nothing better for me than a day exploring pools along SNP trout streams for native brookies. It delights me every time because these fish are stunningly patterned and generally very frisky.
On a good day these brookies are ravenous and pounce on your fly with ferocity. I have spent a few hours on good days dropping terrestrial patterns into little pools and come away with dozens of rises, most of which hook up because the fish appears to be laser focused on having that meal.
Within the SNP, there are numerous waters to fish for brookies. This cross section highlights the specific SNP waters from the Virginia Fisheries website (https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wp-content/uploads/trout-area-map-01.pdf). There is a fee to enter the park area – alternatively buy a National Parks annual pass for multiple entries (https://www.usparkpass.com).
I reached out to a number of Trout Unlimited (TU) chapter members regarding the preferred brookie waters in SNP and the feedback included Jeremy’s Run for the quality of brookie fishing and its proximity to Washington, DC. According to one response, the need for a stealth approach and light touch in the warmer months make Jeremy's Run an iconic water (#28 in the map above). Another favorite mentioned is the Staunton River (not shown on the map above), which is accessed by following the lower part of the Rapidan (another favorite represented by #36 in the map above) and hiking back into the SNP for about a mile. Reportedly the trail to the Staunton gets little traffic of any sort. Also mentioned is Madison Run to the east of Grottoes (#17 on the DGIF map of trout areas) for the great variety of sizes of brook trout in that stream.
If you are a resident of the DMV (District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia) and interested in trout fishing, I encourage membership in TU. A list of chapters is found at https://www.tu.org/find-your-chapter/.
I know there may be a tendency to take the “trophy” approach to fly fishing for trout. But in my view, size does not matter with brookies as they are so darned fun to catch, which makes each a trophy in and of itself. Besides, the native brookie is typically 6 to 12 inches and anything larger is rare, although the current record in the State of Virginia is just above 20 inches.