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Fly Fishing for Native Brook Trout in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains

Updated: Feb 5

Virginia is a fly fisherman's paradise, offering a diverse range of fishing opportunities in its beautiful landscapes. From mountain streams to saltwater marshes, Virginia offers some of the best fishing in the country. One species that lures anglers to the Blue Ridge Mountains is the elusive brook trout. In this blog, we'll explore some of the best brook trout fishing locations in Virginia, including Shenandoah National Park, George Washington National Forest, and the mountain trout streams that surround the charming town of Abingdon.

Brook Trout: Virginia's Native Fish

Brook trout, often referred to as "brookies," are the only native trout in Virginia.  It only inhabits its cool, clear, highly oxygenated streams. Originally sea run arctic char, these fish became landlocked in the Appalachians and wild brookies eventually became their own genetic species. These wild, vibrant fish are a favorite among fly fishermen for their stunning colors, especially before they spawn in the Fall. While most brook trout don't get too big (12" is a trophy), dry fly fishing is usually the norm as you find yourself in some absolutely beautiful settings surrounded by waterfalls, boulders, and rhododendrons. 

Shenandoah National Park: A Brook Trout Haven

Shenandoah National Park has miles of streams to fish. especially if you are willing to hike to get to them. Fabled streams like the Rapidan River and Conway flow off of the Eastern slope, and the western slope is less frequented, as there are fewer access points. I personally enjoy the Moormans, and the stream never disappoints. Even if the streams in the park are hit-or-miss, especially in the winter, I always find the surrounding flora and fauna an interesting part of the fishing trip.

George Washington National Forest: A Wilderness Retreat for Anglers

Just to the other side of Shenandoah Valley is some of the better overlooked brookie water in the area. This expansive forest encompasses over a million acres of wilderness and is home to some of the finest brook trout streams in Virginia. The remote and serene setting provides an excellent opportunity for fly fishers seeking solitude. Most anglers are here bait fishing the lower sections for the stocked rainbow and brown trout, so I find it better to hike above the stocked trout stream and into the tributary and feeder streams. These fish are relatively unmolested and readily take dry flies. It is best to fish these areas early in the season when flows are high as these fish will move into the bigger water later in the season when water levels drop.

Streams like Little Stoney Creek outside of Edinburg, Dry River west of Harrisonburg, and North River west of Staunton are good locations early in the year and a hiker can have miles of stream and forest all to themselves. It should be noted that cell phone reception is spotty at best, and I have encountered bears and bobcats several times so let folks know where you are going if they need to send the search party.

Abingdon, Virginia: A Quaint Town with Wild Trout

Situated in southwestern Virginia, Abingdon is a charming town known for its historic streets and friendly locals. This town of under 10,000 people has ample lodging options, great restaurants, and a mountain bluegrass culture. It's also a gateway to some exceptional brook trout fishing opportunities. Mt. Rogers Recreational Area is very close by and boasts one several nice wild brook and rainbow trout. It seems every small stream has wild fish in the upper section, and most are stocked put and take sections downstream. The jewel is Whitetop Laurel and the 35 mile Virginia Creeper Trail that parallels a good portion of it. One of the few areas in the state where you can catch wild brown trout, rainbow trout, and brook trout along the stream and it's tributaries.   

Virginia Trout Fishing Regulations and Gear

Before heading out for a day of fly fishing in Virginia, be sure to check fishing regulations and fishing conditions. The Virginia DWR and National Park Services provides essential information to ensure you comply with local fishing rules and regulations. Shenandoah National Park, for example, was closed this last Fall due to low water conditions. Many streams have catch and release only or partial creel limits. Another example, the Conway River has a moratorium as brown trout populations have adversely effected the native brook trout fishery and no brown trout can be released.

-Fly Rod Weights: 2 or 3, 7'-7'6

-Flies: Elk Hair Caddis, Adams, Royal Coachman, Ant, Mr. Rapidan, Chubby, Yellow Sallies

Explore Virginia's Brook Trout Streams

Virginia's brook trout streams offer an excellent fishing experience, whether you're an experienced angler or new to the sport. With its stunning landscapes and thriving brook trout populations, this part of the country is a must-visit for any fly fisherman. Enjoy some great trout fishing and embark on an unforgettable journey through Virginia's blue-ribbon brook trout waters. Whether you're casting your line along Skyline Drive or exploring the secluded streams of George Washington and Jefferson National Forest, Virginia's brook trout will keep you coming back for more.

Woman holding a net with a fish in it

Don't wait; plan your next adventure with a fly fishing guide now. Middle River Outfitters offers trips throughout the region and on one of Virginia's only private wild brook trout waters featuring a private waterfall.


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