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Trout Hike - Rose River (VA - Shenandoah Park Lower)
Monday, June 22, 2009

Will this rain never end? I am absolutely desperate to tie into some smallies on any of the great rivers in this part of Virginia. But, this weekend, that was not to be as a result of the spike in rainfall. When I checked in with Lon, he reported that both the Rapidan and Rappahannock rivers were running way over the safe level for wading and were unfishable as a result of the heavy load of silt each river carried downstream. What to do? Head to the mountains!

We pointed the truck towards the Rose River north of Syria. It had been two years since I had fished the lower/upper part of the Rose River in the Park. On my last trip, I hiked in about 1.5 miles to where the main trail veers away from the river and fished upstream from there. As you can see in the report, it was a great time with good results and plenty of action. This time, I wanted to see a little more of the river, so we started to fish where the river joined the trail about three quarters of a mile in from the trailhead.

The trail cuts across the side of the mountain and you can hear the river roaring far below. It occurred to me that with the steep hillside protecting the river, the initial section may be the part of the river that experiences the least amount of pressure. I'll have to check this out on a subsequent visit and find a way to get down to the river directly from the parking area.

Lon peeled off at the first opportunity and I walked another hundred yards upstream to cut through the brush to get to the Rose.  Since Lon had seen a bright yellow colored insect that he claimed was a mayfly, we decided to start with something similar with the same yellow color - Mr. Rapidan in size 14 or a sulphur. I'm not up to speed on entomology so the only thing I took away from the discovery was that the insect was both alive and yellow. 

At the point we started fishing, the Rose is wide for a Park stream. It ran 15 to 20 feet across and featured the standard rocky bottom and tight brush hemming the river into its narrow bed. Working upstream was not a trivial matter and, more likely than not, I found myself crawling over and around rocks and beating through brush. In terms of the water itself, it was running a crisp 56° with plenty of volume as a result of the same rains that ruined the smallmouth fishing. The mosquitoes were bad, the humidity was high and it spit rain a few times; drying later when the sun poked through the trees. Absolutely perfect conditions!

I started to pick up fish right away. Well, let me rephrase that. Fish attacked my fly right away but it turned out that they were mostly the little small guys who come up and chitter at your fly but are not big enough to actually eat it. In the larger pools, I was successful in catching some decent sized -- 6 to 8 inches -- brookies. In the very large pools, I saw bigger fish skitter out of the way when they detected my noisy approach.

At the end of the day, we had a little bit of excitement. As I started to walk out, I got a call on the radio from Lon.

Steve, did you bring your bear spray?

No, why?

Hmmm... now that is a really odd question to get out of the blue...

I just saw the biggest black bear I have ever seen.. He took off up the mountain toward you.

I like catching fish but I prefer not to see bears.  The funny thing is that as I walked in and was about 200 yards away from the truck, I realized I had left the bear spray behind. I thought to myself, "since I forgot it, this will be the day I need it."  As Lon gave me additional intel on where the bear was headed, it seem like that premonition was coming true!

All was not lost, I carry a small airhorn for the specific purpose of scaring bears in my fly vest that was always intended to be the first line of defense.  As I walked, I boomed out large bleats on the horn to warn the bear of my approach.  About 5 minutes later, I emerged onto the main trail and saw Lon about 50 yards below.   With the excitement behind us, we headed back to the truck.

Date Fished: 06/19/2009

Pressure Trout Size
Physical Fitness Bass Size N/A
Access Regulations
Hard to Find Stocking
Scenery Overall

Remember to refer to my rating explanations - these are based on what I look for - so RED for Physical Fitness translates to easy physically - you do not need to be in shape to fish this section.  I prefer terrain that is tough to get into and out of.

Bottom Line: The Rose is a wonderful mountain stream that is certainly worth more than one visit every 3 years.  But, with so much water to fish within driving range of Washington, DC, that's the way it goes!

Getting There: Head north out of Syria, VA on Route 670.  Follow it until it deadends at the trailhead.  Walk into the park and follow the wide trail.  You can start fishing anywhere, but I think the best section is the one above the section described in this report.  It starts at the small sign on the right hand side of the trail that reminds you about the park fishing regulations.  It is about 1.5 miles in from the trailhead.

Google Local Coordinates: 38.514326,-78.365908

Secrets Revealed?  No.  This is a very public location that is documented in the following places:

Virginia VDGIF
Flyfisher's Guide to Virginia 
Virginia Trout Streams 
Virginia Blue-Ribbon Streams 
Fly Fishing Virginia 

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Downstream from my entry point - this view is into the deep valley that parallels the trail

Nothing big here - this is what you will catch - note the FFB 4wt Shenandoah rod... love that thing

One of the larger flat pools

Most of the river is like this.

This bridge and fork is a landmark.  Once you cross this, you are almost at the part of the river that is all plunge pools

In the background, you can see some of the dramatic elevation drops - small waterfalls abound


You get to bushwhack through this

To get to this

 Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore

Disclaimer and Warning:  The contents of this site reflect the opinion of the author and you, the reader, must exercise care in the use and interpretation of this information.  Fishing is a dangerous sport.  You can slip and fall on rocks and sustain severe injury.  You can drown.  You can get hooks caught in your skin, face, eyes or other sensitive places.  All sorts of bad things can happen to you when to go into the woods to visit the places documented here.  Forests, streams and lakes are wild areas and any number of bad things can happen.  You must make your own judgment in terms of acceptable behavior and risk and not rely on anything posted here.  I disclaim all liability and responsibility for any actions you take as a result of reading the articles on this site.  If you do not agree with this, you should not read anything posted on this site.

Finally, access points may be different or restricted based on changes in property ownership since posting the original article.  It is up to you to make sure you are fishing where it is legal.

Copyright © Steve Moore