Fishing Report – Shenandoah National Park

Back from the Keys, I did a much anticipated solo trip to Shenandoah National Park.  With all of the rain and wind expected to make fishing tough on the Chesapeake, I expected to find some willing fish on the cold, mountain streams of the park.

The clouds thinned as the day went on, but the river was swollen with rain.

I drove the two hours from Washington DC to the Old Rag parking lot, and loaded my gear into my day pack.  While everyone in the lot was there to hike the Old Rag, I was the only fly fisherman there.  I walked along the paved road toward the head of Nicholson Trail, and immediately ran into heavy flows and high water where I would need to cross.  I took my waders out of my day pack and suited up before crossing.  The current was swift, and likely would have been extremely dangerous the night before.

Overflowing banks and strong currents on the Hughes River.
This guy was sitting in the sun along the flooded trail.
Lime colored stone fly on a trail marker.

After fording the river, I began the two mile walk up the trail.  The Rapidan River gets most of the attention at SNP, but from my reading, the Hughes River is less pressured and has good quality fish.  With the high stream flows, fishing dries would be tricky.  I eventually found a few slower glides and pocket water where the flow was less swift around the same time (1PM) that a big hatch of lime colored stoneflies and small white mayflies kicked off.  The fish started feeding with abandon, and a small white mayfly pattern brought fish after fish to hand.  Using my short 3wt, I had to wade very close to the fish to get drag free drifts, but was rewarded for the effort.  The fish were nice sized (as far as Brook Trout go) – 9″-10″ and put a nice bend in the 3wt.

A beautiful pool in Shenandoah National Park.
A nice brook trout from the Hughes River.

Once the hatch slowed down and the pattern stopped being effective, I put a large parachute dun pattern on, and caught a couple more nice trout.

I walked out of the park around 6:30, feeling refreshed.  This part of Virginia is beautiful, and with the air temperature around 60 degrees, I drove back to DC with the windows down.

More scenery on the way out:  Bright and beautiful, these centipedes were plentiful along the trail.


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