I drove south on 670 out of Syria paying close attention to both the Rose River and the “stocked trout water” signs. On this stretch of road, the river is easily accessible with plenty of turnouts for parking. In fact, there are so many spots that this is probably one of the few rivers in this area where the stocking truck should be able to distribute trout along the entire stretch of the river something that makes deciding where to stop and fish easy. You just stop wherever it looks good. Of course, based on the stock trout behavior study, we know to just start downstream.
The Rose River feeds directly out of the Shenandoah National Park which is only a few miles up the road. In an earlier post, I discussed the section just south of the park and already commented on two good areas within the park. By the time you get south of Syria, you are in the flatlands and away from any semblance of a mountain stream. The gradient here is low and produces random riffles periodically. It’s mostly a flat water fishing experience. As the river hits the valley, it widens and warms in the summer. I doubt that any trout hold over in this section of the river. It’s almost 50 feet wide in sections and generally shallow which would allow it to heat up easily during the heat of the Virginia summer.
In the two spots that I visited, the deep area ran next to the eastern bank. At the northern location, I hopped in the water and was fished up the middle of the river where was only about a foot and a half deep. I assumed that that would be the constant depth throughout this section. At the upper end, I started to work the east bank where the water was compressed and picked up velocity around a peninsula to push against an overhanging tree. I set up my nymph rig based on the assumption of a foot and a half and began flipping it up into the current. The fallfish jumped right on and I was successful in catching a few of them. I switched to streamers when no trout expressed interest in the nymph rig and continued to work that spot. No luck, no joy. Since the road was so close to the river, I decided to wade over, crawl up the steep bank and then walk back to the truck. I was stunned as I sloshed toward the bank when the water quickly got up to chest high. I realized I had been fishing this incorrectly. Not only was my nymph rig set to run to shallow, but I started the retrieve on the streamers far too soon. If there were any trout in this pool, I had just blown through the place where they would be.
This spot was upstream of the Quaker Run bridge that will take you over to the middle section of the Rapidan. I saw another fly guy fishing at the bridge, so that might be another good spot. When I come back to the river, I’ll start the bridge and work my way up as all this water looks good.
I hopped back in the truck and continued to drive south. There is a lot of private property that breaks up the public access here so you have to look for the signs. The next decent looking spot I saw that was publicly accessible was behind a closed up fruit stand near Sunnybrook Chapel. There’s a dirt road behind the stand that runs to the river to cross a ford to the other side. To the right of the road, there is a nice deep section of the Rose which would be ideal for trout. It was getting late on this gloomy day, but I could not resist taking an hour to work my way up this section.
Curious as to whether there were any fish in here, I made the mistake of walking up the eastern bank to see what was in the water. I was visually rewarded by a few fish charging for cover as I approached a brushy section. Even though I realized I had probably just spooked the pool, I decided to fish it anyway since there was evidence of life. I splashed into the water at the ford and started upstream using woolly buggers and a muddler minnow weighted down with a split shot or two to pull it down deep. The only fish interested in this rig was another fallfish. But, this section has potential and it is worth a return visit on a better day.
Bottom Line: The Rose is fishable from Criglersville upstream into the park. Assuming you can get here before the trout die as the water heats up or they get cleaned out, you should have a good day on a pleasant stretch of water. The lower section of the Rose is not as scenic as it is farther up but, on the plus side, it’s easy to get back to your truck to move up or downstream to the next likely spot.
Getting There: From Syria, VA, drive south on 670 (Old Blue Ridge Turnpike). The Rose River parallels the road and the stocked signs are obvious.
Google Local Coordinates: 38.467568,-78.314838
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
Upper point. Upstream view
Upper point. Downstream view
Lower point. Upstream view
Lower point. Downstream view
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore