As seasons change, only fond memories of summer remain. Of these, Shenandoah National Park shines like a gem. The opportunity to pair backpacking with fishing is always a treat and Shenandoah National Park is a gracious host to the willing adventurer. With over 70 streams teeming with wild trout, choosing which trail to follow is a difficult decision. This time, I chose Jeremy's Run. I picked up a backcountry permit (which are free) from the ranger station and was on my way. The park rangers require some detail of your hiking plans as a precautionary measure incase the unplanned happens, like getting lost or getting into a fight with a black bear over trout. After a final check of my gear, I began hiking. The trail slowly descends a fern covered hillside shaded beneath a canopy of trees before connecting to stream in the valley. With trout on my mind, I quickly scouted out a campsite and dumped my pack, then began fishing. Sporadic hatches of everything from golden stones to sulphers to caddis throughout the day had the fish voraciously feeding on anything and everything. I fished two flies the entire day, only switching from my Royal Wulff to a stimulator because the first fly became so saturated with water, and refused to float. It was one of those days where you quickly lose count of fish caught and even ballpark estimates seem hazy. A Shenandoah personal best 13” brookie highlighted the day and after a quick internal debate on whether or not to keep the fish, I decided to release it back to its home. A wild fish that size in such a small stream deserves to live and besides, I didn’t need any extra attention from some roaming black bear.
Back at camp I threw a few more casts in the dwindling light before making the necessary preparations for the night: boil water for tomorrow’s drinking (I need to invest in a pump), hang food in tree, set up tent...what tent? Oh yeah, I decided not to bring one. The weather looked fine and I had opted for the lighter no tent option. I still had my trusty Tyvek for a ground cloth, so all was good, except for those weird looking bugs that kept on invading my personal space. After an hour of frantically flicking away wandering insects and shining my headlamp at every rustling leaf in nearby bushes, I finally drifted off into a dreamless sleep.
At daybreak, I packed up my gear, leaving no trace (Boy Scouts taught me well) then departed for the second half of a fishy weekend. I made it back to the car around 8:30am where my kayak awaited me patiently. A short drive and 30 minutes later, I exchanged my 6ft 2wt rod for a 9ft 6wt and was ready to float down the Shenandoah River.