Three maps depicting all trout streams in Shenandoah National Park can be obtained for $1.50 each from the Shenandoah Natural History Association, Box 387, Luray, Va., 22835. A story in Tuesday's editions that priced the maps at 90 cents each was in error.
There are 42 native brook trout streams splashing down from the Blue Ridge Mountains in Shenandoah National Park. They constitute one of the few remaining strongholds of the wild brook trout in the Southeast.
Yet, in spite of their proximity to thousands of anglers, the stream are underfished.
It is downright rate to see another fly fisherman plying these brushy, rocky waters. About the only animate objects you are likely to run into are a flock of young turkeys scurrying for cover, a grouse craning its head or a bear waddling away.
The reason: these streams require a hike. Walking. It is something a lot of anglers want in only small doses.
In this day of the supremacy of the hatchery truck we can simply drive up to our trout water, park the car along the side of the road and flip our corn or salmon egg out of the gullible stocked fish.
Who would want to take a two-hour hike down a steep mountain path, perhaps even have to follow a trail cut by deer along sharply sloping mountains, to reach waters that aren't even stocked by the state? Only native fish there, and they rarely stretch out on the tape measure as long as the pale ones dumped into roadside streams.
Very few people want to take this trouble. For those who do, nothing could be more delightful. One of the great joys of fishing these waters is their solitude.
And also their fish. The waters are full of sparkling natives from thumbsize on up. On a trip last week to one of my favorite park streams there were schools of 20 to 30 trout finning about in virtually every pool, once you hiked in for a few miles.
At six to 10 inches, these were typical Shenandoah Park brook trout. Quite a few hook-jawed specimens in the 11-to 13-inch class were present, however, and a pair of these wolfed down my No. 18 dry flies on successive casts.
In a few park streams trout of 15 inches are present. Rumors have it that Larry Mohn and his crews, who have been sampling, all the trout waters in the state, have unearthed a few old-timers measuring 18 inches.
Such fish are rarities, but the hordes of six - to 10-inchers available for the price of a short hike are a ball on light spinning or fly tackle, feeding with a gusto that makes hatchery fish pale by comparison.
For spin fishing, take a rod 4 1/2 to 5 feet long and the tiniest reel you can find, spooled with two-pound line. A selection of Colorado spinners, flat-fish lures and small jigs will put you in good stead. Only single-hook lures are permitted in park waters, so be sure to snip off the extra points with cutting pliers if your lures have treble hooks.
For fly fishing, short rods are best so that you can lace casts through the thick tree growth. A six or seven footer taking a three- to five-weight-forward or double-taper floating line is about right.
Use drab-colored wet flies or the Adams, Black Ant, Crowe Beetle and Blue-winged Olive in dries. Sizes No. 14-20 are best.
Usually the Shenandoah waters are extremely low at this time of year - thin, transparent and difficult for all but the most skilled anglers to approach successfully. The abundance of spring and summer rains have precluded this, however. Pools should remain fishable through the Oct. 15 closing date for Park waters.
Back-country camping is permitted in Shenandoah Park, but you must obtain a permit from a park ranger at one of the visitor centers or by mail from Robert R. Jacobsen, Superintendent, Shenandoah National Park, Luray, Va., 22835.
A set of three maps depicting all trout streams in the park is available from the Shenandoah Natural History Association, Box 387, Luray, VA 22835, for 90 cents each.
The best way to reach many of the streams is via the 105-mile Skyline Drive. Short, steep hikes downhill from here lead to the trout-rich waters. No trout stamp is required to fish park waters, since they are not stocked.
The creel limit is five fish per day over eight inches. Keep a few brookies for a shoreside lunch if you wish, for their salmon-pink flesh is delicious. But don't be greedy.