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Brook trout of Shenandoah National Park - part II

Updated: Jan 3, 2023

Mountain Trout Fishing School with Murray’s Fly Shop

the undaunted scholars of Murray's Fishing School

Murray's Fishing School for mountain trout

As readers of my blog know, I have no problem treating myself to regular fishing excursions that include guided instruction. I have had the classes offered by Murray’s Fly Shop on my bucket list for some time and recently had the pleasure of spending a day with Jeff Murray and Dale to perfect my fly-fishing technique on the mountain streams of Shenandoah National Park (SNP).

Native brook trout of Shenandoah National Park

I have previously written of the ‘native’ treasure of the SNP that is the brook trout. A day exploring trout streams of the SNP for frisky brookies is a delight that really is unparalleled in central and western Virginia. Waters such as Jeremy’s Run, the Rapidan River and the Rose River are favorites among the anglers I mingle with in my local chapter of Trout Unlimited. These freestone streams within the mountains of the SNP are so much fun because there is less food available (versus a Spring Creek) and the brook trout are more opportunistic as a result.

a 'native' that pounced on a Mr Rapidan fly

On this particular day, the classroom was both indoor and outdoor. The day began with tips on the best approach to fishing mountain streams, which is based on a stealthy approach to the water. Basically, a brook trout is looking for food and protection from predators and current, so covering the entire water from a downstream position is very effective, starting with the lip, moving to the tail, then mid-pool and finishing with the corners. For a small pool, a hook up can be a one and done scenario, but I have been rewarded for my perseverance on larger pools with several hook ups.

Fly fishing for brook trout on the Rapidan River

The indoor classroom portion of the day proceeded to cover hatches, flies to match the hatch and knots. Following that, the group was able to discuss equipment with our instructors and purchase any flies, leaders or tippet that was not in their gear packs. We then took our knowledge to the outdoor classroom, which for that day was the upper Rapidan River (via the Old Blue Ridge Turnpike to Quaker Run Road and its continuation as a fire road into the SNP).

Jeff Murray teaching us how to 'cover the water'

I have fished this section of the Rapidan on a number of occasions and it is always an adventure that is part fishing/part boulder hopping! The amount of quality water that an angler can cover on this portion of the Rapidan is impressive – I managed an hour focused on plunges, pools and riffles over a stretch that could not have been more than 100 yards with plenty of rises and hookups to keep me interested. The entire stretch ‘between the two bridges’ is about 1 mile, so it can take a while to properly fish that section.

a student getting instruction from Jeff Murray

According to the Virginia DWR, there are more than 400 streams containing brook trout, so the opportunities to target brookies are endless. We anglers in Virginia are blessed to have such a special resource.

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