After departing New Bern and the Neuse River after St. Patrick’s Day, we headed into Shenandoah National Park for brook trout redemption. Humbled by the Neuse, our hope was that the Conway River would yield hungry April trout on dry flies. As usual with fishing, the conditions looks excellent, but the fishing wasn’t.
Between the four of us (and with me resorting to using my 6wt, the smallest rod in my car for the trip) we landed two trout. The fishing was tough – the fish were generally not receptive to dries unless perfectly positioned in feeding lanes, and in many pools, even this didn’t matter. I did have a number of fish smack at my dry flies, but none were hooked (often meaning the fish were too small for my large parachute adams, or were spooked by the larger tippet I was using).
I’ve fished the Conway a few times now, and have never come away impressed. Usually the fish are tiny, relatively smart and demanding, and usually brown trout at the lower elevations where I’ve focused. I have yet to hike up the Conway into the park, but this seems like a wise move for future trips.
Fast-forward to the very next weekend in March, I returned by myself to the Conway, equipped with proper tackle (a 3wt and 6X leaders). Despite friendly conditions, I again came away blanked, again despite several fish whacking my dry flies. I worked my way up past where I had fished with the Neuse crew, but the fishing never substantially improved.
Why do I have such a hard time on the Conway? I honestly don’t know. I’m not a great trout fisherman by any means, but I have a gut feel that this river is hit and miss. Maybe it has heavy fishing pressure (including folks keeping their catch), or maybe the brown trout are just a little more clever than the (reckless) brook trout.
My conclusion: I don’t expect to return to the Conway for a long time.