At first glance the area around Washington wouldn't seem like trout country. But with only a short drive the angler can be casting over high-caliber trout waters.

Five of the most interesting:

1. LETORT SPRING RUN - Through Pennsylvania flow some of the richest trout streams in the East. Storied Letort Spring Run, 2 1/2 hours from Washington, is perhaps the most famous and "difficult" trout stream in America. It also is one of the best.

The Letort flows swift and smooth through the pastoral Cumberland Valley, its supple surface unbroken with riffles or pocket water. Heavily alkaline, the stream is overgrown with elodea and watercress and supports large populations of seuds and shrimp that nourish native browns and rainbows up to 10 pounds.

Much of the Letort is designated as a "fish-for-fun" stream, with a limit of one trout over 20 inches per day. Another stretch close to the town of Carlisle is reserved for children. Only youngsters under 12 and disabled persons fish these special waters.

For the Letort, a slow-action fly rod of 7 1/2-9 feet taking a 4-6 weight line is recommended. Leaders should run at least 9 feet and taper to a tippet of 5X-7X. Flies that score on the Letort include the Black Ant No. 14-18, Cinnamon Ant No. 18-24, Letort Hopper No. 12-14, Letort Cricket No. 10-14, Jassid No. 18-22 and Scud No. 1418.

To reach the Letort, take Pennsylvania Rt. 34 South off 181 at Carlisle. A left on Bonnybrook Road leads to the water.

2. BEAVER CREEK - Though not as famous as Pennsylvania's spring creeks, Maryland also boasts several fine limestone trout streams. One of the best is Beaver Creek, a longtime favorite of the late Joe Brooks. Beaver Creek is only 70 miles from Washington, located along Md. Rt. 40 just east of Hagerstown. This stream is heavily stocked and turns up fish of surprising dimensions for its tiny size. Eight-pounders have been dredged from the crystal green waters.

The methods of fishing on Beaver Creek are not restricted, as so many fine trout waters are today. Bait and spin fishing can be quite productive. Earthworms fished on a tiny hook with a small split shot crimped a foot above the bait will take trout consistently for anglers who stalk their quarry cautiously on the Beaver. Fly fishermen take big trout from the creek with Black Marabous and large bushy nymphs when the water is slightly stainy from rains.

3. HUNTING CREEK - One of the fascinating aspects of fishing for trout in the mid-Atlantic area is the tremendous variety of waters available. Barely a stone's throw apart you can find limestone creeks meandering through lush meadows and plunging mountain brooks dashing headlong through sharp ravines.

A popular mountain stream in Maryland is Big Hunting Creek, located in Cunningham Falls State Park. Some 65 miles from Washington, this stream is reached by taking U.S. 15 north out of Frederick.

Special catch-and-return regulations govern much of Hunting Creek, with the exception of the lake within the park. Only artificial flies are permitted and the creel limit is one trout per day over 15-inches.

Hunting Creek trout are not as selective as their limestone coutnerparts, but they do seem to show a strong preference for grayish-colored may flies in sizes No. 14-20. In summer, terrestrial patterns flipped out in the clear waters bring fast action on brooks, browns, and rainbows.

A trout stamp is required to fish stocked streams in Maryland, in addition to a regular fishing license. It sells for $2.50.

4. BIG STONY CREEK - One of the best stocked streams in Virginia is Big Stony, located in Shenandoah County. To reach Stony, take Virginia Rte. 42 west from Woodstock on 181. The stream is a two-hour drive from Washington.

Stony is planted with brooks, browns, and rainbows and occasionally turns out holdover fish from seasons past that tip the scales in the 3-4 pound range.

The stream is not rich in aquatic insect life, and hence fly fishing is not generally as productive as spinning with ultralight tackle. Panther Martins score consistently on Stony, and the old homely earthworm fished on a light line will fool many trout.

Stony is stocked throughout the season, and fishing usually holds up well all summer and fall. Concentrate on the deep holes, glides and pocket water for fast action.

A trout stamp is required to fish stocked streams in Virginia. It costs $3 for residents, $7.50 for nonresidents.

5. RAPIDAN RIVER - The most famous trout stream in Virginia is the Rapidan, which tumbles through the Blue Ridge Mountains in Madison County. This stream ranks among the finest brook trout waters in the Appalachians, with pure strains of native trout growing over a foot long.

The Rapidan is managed as a "fish-for-fun" stream, and no trout may be killed. The result of these special regulations is a superb wild trout [WORD ILLEGIBLE] For several years, big rainbows well stocked in the Rapidan, but this practice was discontinued several years back. There was a fear of introducing diseases or parasites from the hatchery fish into the native brook trout.

Spinning lures with single barbles hooks are permitted on the Rapidan, and good catches can be made by the angler who refines down to two-pound line and flicks tiny Flatfish lures and Colorado spinners into the deep pools and glides. It's best to work upstream when spinfishing this river.

Fly fishing offers the ultimate sport on the Rapidan. The Adams, Blue Winged Olive and Black Ant are three patterns that produce dependably on these Blue Ridge gems when presented on 6X or 7X tippets.

The Rapidan can be reached from Criglersville via Rts. 670 and 649. The mountain road leading to the stream is quite rough, so go slowly.