Managing a 1600 acre park is no small task, but it is a rewarding one. By far, one of the best things about living on the property at Shenandoah River State Parkis the ability to regularly engage in one of my favorite pastimes, fishing!
Tony enjoying some fishing time on the river.
Many days after work, tube and gear in hand, I head down the trail toward the river. I know that at this time of evening, when the sun begins its descent upon the ridge of Massanutten Mountain, the fish will be active and my chances are good. As I settle into my tube and let the water carry me along, I feel myself relax into the peaceful surroundings.
Tubing while fishing is my preferred method for a couple reasons: for one thing, wildlife hardly seem to notice my presence as I move down river so slowly. This has given me the opportunity to enjoy some pretty close views of animals like muskrat, otter and heron. Another benefit is that I can easily scout out the deeper holes where the fish are plentiful, without having to make my way there by foot, which is slower and a bit more cumbersome. These deep pools are easy to spot if you know to look for where the foam bubbles on top of the water are relatively still.
Sometimes, however; I do like to fish on foot for a change of pace. I find that I catch the most fish if I wade out pretty far to find the deeper pools, many of which can be found along the section of river that parallels the Bluebell Trail, which is about a mile long and an easy hike. The main thing to remember when wading over rocky areas of the river bottom is never to move one foot unless the other is solidly planted.
I have the best luck catching bigger fish in the early spring and in September and October, while smaller fish are more prevalent during the summer months. I find that as far as bait goes, Hellgrammites and Madtoms work great for catching Smallmouth Bass, Fallfish and Red-breasted Sunfish. My favorite lures for these fish include rapalas and in-line spinners such as rooster tails, tube jigs and rubber worms with no weight. Chicken livers or rapalas work well for catfish, which are easy to find in the deep holes. On a good day, it is not uncommon for me to catch up to 30 fish while floating down a two mile stretch of the river!
My love of fishing began in early childhood, when my father would take me and my brothers out to fish in the Portage River in Northwest Ohio. I have continued to engage in the sport throughout my life and regularly take vacations to fish up north. Most recently I went up to Maine and caught some large Brook Trout. Even here at work, I have found a way to promote my hobby, by running the annual fishing tournament for state park employees, which is held at Kiptopeke State Park on the Eastern Shore in October every year.
For me, fishing is a great way to relax, relieve stress, and enjoy God’s creation. It is a great way for families to spend some quality time together in nature and to get children engaged in outdoor recreation.
Fishing licenses, which are required for all those over the age of 16, may be purchased at the Visitor Center. The fee for an annual pass is $23 for Virginia residents. For out-of-state guests, a 5-day pass can be purchased for $21 or an annual pass for $47. The park encourages visitors of all ages to come out and experience this exciting sport for themselves. (For complete info on fishing regulations, licenses and how to buy them, see the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries).
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Shenandoah River State Park is in Warren County, eight miles south of Front Royal and 15 miles north of Luray. It's off Rt. 340 in Bentonville.