My wife and I decided to work off the turkey and pie the day after our Thanksgiving feast and go for a hike. The woods around here were crawling with hunters, so we headed to Shenandoah National Park. Neither of us had ever been to Jeremy’s Run so we figured we’d hike the trail there. Besides getting some exercise, I wanted to photograph spawning brook trout. Nothing like fishing, but this would also be something new. I normally don’t come out here this time of year and have never seen spawning brookies. I didn’t know if I would have much chance to see any. When you’re fishing, these guys are usually well hidden until they hit your fly. Without a fly rod, well, it didn’t seem so likely to me.
Turns out Jeremy’s Run is a very nice stream. Running down the western slope of the Blue Ridge, it’s accessible either from Skyline Drive or from below off of Rt. 340. The Elk Wallow Wayside, with its gift shop and parking area provides good access from the top and is a popular spot. That of course is the reason I never fish Jeremy’s Run. There have been times I had planned to fish here, but each time I’ve pulled into the parking area there were just too many cars for my liking. When I see more than one vehicle at any stream access point, I think I’m going to be tripping over ten other guys fishing and finding nothing but fished out pools. At times I have gone ahead anyway and found that that’s rarely the case. But part of the reason I enjoy this type of fishing to get away from everyone else. Near Jeremy’s Run is the Piney River and several other streams, all much less welcoming. Just my style. So I always end up on one of those instead when I’m in the North District of the park. Jeremy’s Run has never gotten my attention and I’ve never felt I was missing much.
We parked in the Elk Wallow lot right next to the trail head. The hike down from the parking area is a typical SNP hike. Switchbacks, fairly steep, a trickle of water at the top. I’m not sure what the deal is with the pipe that drips water into a ravine near the top. I’m picturing every stream in the park fed by a pipe like this, maybe with a hot and cold handle.
We hiked down until the trail flattened out and met Jeremy’s Run proper. A lot of nice looking water, though low due to the lack of rainfall the past couple months. I was hoping we’d see spawning fish this far upstream if we’d see them at all. There were a lot of pools that could have held fish. It crossed my mind, several times in fact, that despite the spawning season maybe just maybe I should have packed the rod and cast a couple times into some of the deeper spots up here. What the heck, what’s one little fish caught, right? Well, that’s why you leave the fly rod at home. No temptation. Leave the spawning fish alone. But it looked good and certainly merits a trip back, maybe in the spring, on a rainy weekday and when everyone else is working.
A little over two and a half miles downstream we finally got to the pool in the photo (crop at the top of this post and the larger shot below). I saw a good sized fish swim straight up the middle of this pool, much bigger than the fish in the photo. Yeah, I know, what else would I say? But it’s true. The fish in this shot is about six inches, two or three inches less than the first one that passed by. There were a few smaller ones in there, too. That was a good sight. I crawled down to the water to snap some shots. One other fish spooked but this guy stayed put. He moved a little away from me, obviously aware of my presence but not ready to drop his guard. Definitely in spawning mode.
A little further down we spooked another pool. A half dozen fish scattered. I figured from this point downstream there were a lot more fish than in the top three miles of stream we hiked past. I know a guy who fishes this stream regularly and he always parks at the bottom off of Rt. 340 and hikes upstream. That probably puts him into more fish closer to where he accesses the stream compared to starting from Skyline Drive. Good to know.
I’m not giving up any secrets here. Jeremy’s Run is notoriously pressured, as I’ve mentioned. Not my first choice for a SNP stream, but I think I’ll return. It’s obviously a healthy stream. And always cool to spot trout, no matter the circumstances.