Wild brown trout are not super abundant here in Virginia. There are a few places you can find them, though. In Shenandoah National Park, there are some streams with viable populations (for better or worse, more on that below): the Hughes River, Rose River, Brokenback Run, and the Conway River. It is possible a few other streams in the park contain remnant brown trout populations as well. Elsewhere in the state, healthy brown trout populations exist in places such as Mossy Creek, but compared to, say, Pennsylvania, opportunities to find brown trout in Virginia are fairly limited.
The National Park Service requires that brown trout caught in Shenandoah National Park cannot be returned to the Hughes, Rose, or Brokenback. Browns are invasive and have a negative impact on native brook trout in those streams. I’m not sure why the Conway is not included in those regulations, but Virginia seems to encourage people to seek out brown trout there.
Last week, with the invitation to join a friend fishing a wild brown trout stream, I found a few. None were especially large, but they all took dry flies eagerly. I don’t usually ask for more than that, so it was a hell of a lot of fun.
Since I was looking for brook trout as well, I just used the same flies I normally would for them. In this case, a Deer Hair Caddis with some hackle, a blonde Elk Hair Caddis, an Adams, and a Patriot. As it gradually warmed up throughout the day, the fish hit dries mightily.
I ended up with more browns than brookies, which was the opposite of my expectations when we started in the morning.
This year, targeting more brown trout is a minor goal for me. I plan to spend a bit more time in Pennsylvania hunting them, but Virginia is going to get some attention as well. So far, the year is heading in the right direction.
6 thoughts on “Wild Brown Trout”
Beautiful fish! I fish nearly exclusively in wild streams and I’ve always been encouraged to pull out any brown trout I catch. The brown trout is one fish I’ve yet to catch in the wild though. Hopefully that’ll change this season. Tight lines!
We’re lucky in VA to have a few good wild brown trout streams. Have fun!
Hiking into lakes off the beaten path has been a passion of mine years (i.e. Pocono’s, Wolf Swamp, Bruce). This past week I decided to try trout fishing in devils hole run in Pocono’s SGL 221. Since I’m not a trout fisherman I tried my luck with an ultra light and drifting worms and small spinners….skunked. Am I wasting my time with worms and native trout……I have a fly rod that has never been used so I’m tempted to try it out. I fly fished many years ago so I have a basic idea on how to case. But in the tight areas of a wild trout stream I’m very skeptical. Do you have a few fly’s you can recommend? My next trip will be Hickory Run SP, Fourth Run.
I fished Devil’s Hole last year. The water was very low and I had the same luck you did, with a fly rod. I would think flies would be a better bet on streams like that anyway, however. Brook trout are generally pretty desperate in those small creeks, so I use flies that simply float well that I can see, like deer or elk hair caddis, bushy dry flies like a really hairy Adams, Patriot, or things I just make up at my vice. I usually have better luck with bigger dries, size 12 and even 10, sometimes even larger. Just make a really short cast upstream and let it drift, or just dap it and keep your rod held high to keep the line tight and off the water. Lots of great places to do it in the Poconos!
I just came from the lower part of the Nicholson hollow trail, but I was only able to catch brook trout, though (surprisingly)nice size was not what I was after. Any advice
The St. Mary’s River near Vesuvius, Virginia used to have brown trout. There were large browns there that were great fun to catch and release.
During the 1990s, much of the stream was electro-shocked to remove them. Could there still be a remnant population there ?