Trout Waters

Shenandoah National Park (VA) – Shenandoah National Park is a fishing destination that all fly fishermen should experience. The park itself boasts 500 miles of hiking trails and scenery for those interested in fishing, camping, backpacking, or just getting out of the bustle of Washington DC.There are  over 70 mountain streams throughout the park which all hold native Brook Trout.Since the fish are native in a mountain stream environment, the trout do not grow to large sizes, but they are always a thrill to catch.While the fish are not generally too selective on flies or patterns, SNP Brookies are sensitive to shadows and human clumsiness. Anglers must use stealth. It’s recommended to use a shorter and lighter fly rod (2-3 weight). Most of the streams can be characterized as gradient with steep plunges throughout.  Some popular fishing destinations include White Oak Canyon, Rose River, the Rapidan, Conway River, among others. Best advice is to get out there and explore.

  • Difficulty – Easy to Moderate
  • Distance from DC – Moderate
  • Pressure – Moderate to Heavy


Accotink Creek (Annandale, VA) – Accotink Creek is the quintessential urban stocker stream. There might be rumors of hold overs, but most, if not all the trout anglers encounter in this stream will be recently stocked Rainbows. Either way, Accotink is a quick 20 minute drive from Washington DC and can be fun place to fish when a longer trip doesn’t fit the schedule.

I’ve had a lot of success at this stream throwing streams and stripping them through the slower moving water. Pay attention to the Virginia Trout Stocking Schedule to take best advantage of this fun little urban stream.

  • Difficulty – Easy 
  • Distance from DC – Easy
  • Pressure – Moderate


South River (Waynesboro, VA) – I am lucky enough to fish the South River a decent amount since my girlfriend’s parents live in the town next door. The South River is a fairly big stretch of water. While the river originally appears to have little character, there are some real nice runs and deeper pockets that hold big hold over trout when taking a closer look. I normally fish the downtown Waynesboro area after stopping by the South River Fly Shop and have had modest success. The river is fairly residential and has had a rough past due to chemical dumping from textile plants, but the river has truly bounced back over the years. While I have yet to catch my monster brown trout out of the South River, I’ve seen pictures of some brutes being pulled out of there.

  • Difficulty – Moderate
  • Distance from DC – Far
  • Pressure – Moderate


Beaver Creek (Hagerstown, MD) – While it certainly comes with its challenges, Beaver Creek is one of my favorite trout streams throughout the DMV area. Beaver is a fairly skinny Spring Creek with some beautiful little runs and pools. Beaver has healthy populations of both stocked and wild brown and rainbow trout. Due to the pressure it receives and the general challenges associated with any Spring Creek, anglers will need to truly earn their fish on this stream. Drag free presentations and stealthy approaches are a must. One major positive of Beaver is the fact that the water temperature remains very stable throughout the Winter and Summer months. I’ve caught nice fish here in August and January and in my opinion, success is often dictated by the flows and pressure received on the stream that day, not by the time of year.

The Beaver Creek fly shop is located right on the stream and I’ve found the guys there to be very helpful and informative. This Spring Creek can be a little crowded on weekends, so be smart about when you choose to go.

  • Difficulty – Moderate to Difficult
  • Distance from DC – Moderate to easy
  • Pressure – Moderate to Heavy


Rose River Farm (Syria, VA) – Streams from the Shenandoah National Park feed into this pay to access fly fishing paradise. The Rose River holds good numbers of huge rainbow trout, some nice brook trout, and the occasional brown. The rod fee to access Rose River Farm is $95 and anglers need to plan ahead and reserve their spot months in advance of any desired outing.

The combination of stocking high volumes of large fish and low pressure due to angler limits makes these fish fairly accessible and moderately easy to catch. Rose River Farm is a special place and will always be a one trip per year type of place for me. It’s certainly worth the rod fee to have an experience with a trophy rainbow.

  • Difficulty – Moderate to easy
  • Distance from DC – Moderate
  • Pressure – Moderate to easy


Big Hunting Creek (Thurmont, MD) – Big Hunting is a fly fishing only, catch and release trout stream nestled in Maryland’s Catoctin Mountains. Even though it is not a terribly long stream, anglers can experience diverse waters characterized by long stretches of riffles, big pools, small pocket water, and steep plunges. Like many mountain streams, the fish are not terribly large, but I’ve found that they are often willing to cooperate despite sometimes very heavy fishing pressure. Some of my favorite memories of my fly fishing career have come from throwing dry flies in small pockets behind rocks within the riffles of Big Hunting Creek. Big Hunting is located only an hour and some change away from DC, making it a great place to fish when DC fly anglers are strapped for time.

  • Difficulty – Moderate
  • Distance from DC – Moderate to easy
  • Pressure – Heavy