Friday, May 22, 2015

Southern Appalachian Adventure - Day 1

Star Chickweed along the trail
I just got back from a rode trip thorough southern Appalachian.  I spent two nights camping two nights in the Shenandoah National Forest and then two nights in the Great Smoky Mountain National Forest on my way to Memphis TN for my daughter's college graduation.

We have driven this route before and I've always wanted to stop and explore but time and schedule did not allow so on this final trip I had planned to take it slow and enjoy the journey.



After arriving in Shenandoah National Forest around mid day, I set up camp and then drove to Milam Gap to hike into Rapidan Camp, a summer camp established by President Hoover 1929-1932.  I really wanted to see the historical camp that was built where the Mill Prong and Laurel Prong join to form the Rapidan River.  My plan was to hike down the Mill Prong trail and fish down to the camp and explore up the Laurel Prong and possibly some of the Rapidan.   Many wildflowers were blooming along the trail and some of the hikers were there just to see the wildflowers.  White and pink trilium, stitchwort, bluets, violets, and mountain laurel were all in bloom.  The Mill Prong was an endless series of plunges and small pools flowing over large moss covered rocks.  





At times, the banks were difficult to navigate due to the thick mountain laurel. All along all three rivers the brook trout were quite stunning with bright orange bellies.  I fished a parachute adams at first but switched to a royal wulff since it was easier to see and the fish didn't seem to care.  Most of the fish were holding in the riffles just below the plunges.  Interestingly this would be the only day the dry fly attracted considerable interest.  As the Mill Prong flowed deeper into the gap toward the Rapidan, the boulders became larger and the plunge pools deeper. 

Large boulders typical of Shenandoah rivers


Larger falls on the Mill Prong

After a brief break on the porch of the camp, which I had largely to myself, I headed over to the Laurel Prong and caught another beautiful brook trout from a productive looking plunge pool. 





A plunge pool on the Laurel Prong



I was able to work my way through the thick mountain laurel down to the Rapidan River and managed to land perhaps the best and strongest fish of the day.


A Rapidan brook trout

After catching trout from each of the three rivers, I decided to put the rod away and hike back to the car and enjoy the coming sunset over the Shenandoah Valley.


A Shenandoah sunset from Tanner's Ridge

9 comments:

  1. Outstanding Mark!! Gorgeous Photos!!! Glad you got to enjoy.

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  2. Thanks Pete - it was a great trip. More pictures to come

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  3. Will be waiting. Beautiful part of the country!!!

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  4. Those are some of the most gorgeous brook trout I have ever seen! The ones Alan caught before there were also amazingly colorful, so I guess it must be genetic or the surroundings...not really sure. My favorite has to be the second one because he is so dark, yet his colors so vibrant! I need to make a trip there some day.

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    1. RI Brook Trout - they are indeed gorgeous fish. I would definitely recommend visiting the park in spring or fall and I should add that this is also a great park for camping with very nice facilities. I would be happy to pass some info along via email if you are planning a trip

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  5. Mark
    This is a trip I dream of, my wife and I will be in the Valley in July, I hope to at least wet a fly somewhere along those beautiful streams. I am not your age so I will have to be very selective as to where I will fish. Thanks for sharing a stunning post!!

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    1. Bill - I am sure you will enjoy the park and there are spots along the boundaries that are more accessible. Hopefully we won't have a dry summer but definitely take a slow drive along the skyline drive, it is gorgeous!

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  6. Beautiful place. I'll have to put it on my list.

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    1. Kirk - I would have to say that SNP is at the top of my list of places I've been with a day's car ride from the Northeast

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