After fishing for a few hours on Devil’s Ditch, I decided to walk about a mile down the Conway since I was here. The nice thing about fishing on the Conway is that there is a well-defined path that extends from the parking area downstream several miles. If you look on the map, you see that this is the old route 667 that has since been blocked off. It makes for fast, easy walking and I put that mile behind me in no time at all.
Once I cut over to the stream, I was happy to see that there was plenty of water charging down through the narrow canyon that defines the course of this small “river”. I know that in a few weeks all this water will disappear and we will be lucky if we have a trickle moving through here. With that, I need to point out if you are going to fish the Conway — or any of the streams of the Shenandoah Park — you need to do it now before the water warms up. I certainly did not have that problem on this day as it was percolating along at a cool 56°. The Conway is a typical park stream. If I close my eyes, I could have been on the Rose or the Hughes — it’s all pretty much the same. The stream has a rocky bottom over which the shallow river runs. All you need to fish here is hip waders or just wet wade if it’s warm. As you can see from the pictures, the river is not very wide and is protected by overhanging trees. In most places, it’s lucky to be 15 feet across.
This is classic mountain fishing. You need to be careful in your approach to the pockets that form the boundaries of each of the longer, shallow runs as it is easy to scare skittish fish. Since there was plenty of water on this day, I fished the runs that I would have usually ignored and picked up the brookies it had disbursed away from the pools. The average trout I caught ranged between 4 and 8 inches. If you fish straight up the river, easy to stay out of the trees and you can use a longer fly rod. In early June, pretty much anything goes for dry flies. I was picking up fish on Mr. Rapidan, mosquitoes, and full hackle attractors that would float better on top of the high, fast water. I also tried hare’s ear and Copper John nymphs with the best result on a hare’s ear size 14.
If you’re spin fishing, ultralight is the name of the game up here and don’t use anything larger than 1/16 oz – the fish are just too small anything else. Of course, there’s always that random lunker hiding at the bottom of one of the deeper pools who would be happy to eat something much larger than that.
Unlike Devil’s Ditch, you will not kill yourself bushwhacking to get from pool to pool. In most places, there’s plenty of access across the rounded boulders that line each side of the river. You may have to leave the water in a few places, but it is easy to get back. Obviously, the most heavily fished part of the river will be section that runs right next to the well-defined road. If you move up or downstream from those locations, you are more likely to catch fish. That’s certainly my experience on this day.
Bottom line: I like the water in the Shenandoah Park it’s all good if you’re willing to work to get to and are happy catching small Brook trout. Don’t come here expecting to catch monster; it’s more about the experience than anything else.
Date Fished: 06/07/2009
Getting There: From Rt 29, turn west onto Rt 230. Follow Rt 230 to 662 and follow it to the right. It will take you to Graves Mill where you can access the lower Rapidan. Bear left on 615 and follow it over the mountain.
Google Local Coordinates: 38.432682,-78.4338
Secrets Revealed? No. This is a very public location that is documented in the following places:
Flyfisher’s Guide to Virginia
Virginia Trout Streams
Virginia Blue-Ribbon Streams
Fly Fishing Virginia
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Upstream from the upper entry point
Downstream from the upper entry point
Upstream from the lower point
Downstream from the lower point
Plenty of water as a result of the rains
Flat areas were productive
Deeper pools demanded heavy streamers or nymphs
Canyon produces tight cuts
Upstream from improved campsite about 100 yards downstream of the junction of Devil’s Ditch
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore