Forming along the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains, this pristine native brook trout stream was the first fish-for-fun fisheries created in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and is recognized as one of the State’s premier native trout resources. Trout habitat in the Rapidan is limited to the Shenandoah National Park and the VDGIF’s Rapidan Wildlife Management Area. The fish-for-fun portion includes tributaries upstream of the lower Park boundary, most notably the Staunton River.
Brook trout populations have begun to rebound since the unprecedented floods of 1995, and fishing is excellent throughout most of the drainage. However, the section of stream near the lower park boundary has the lowest densities of trout.
Maps & Directions
Access to the lower section of the Rapidan River can be gained by turning west onto Rt. 230 off of Rt. 29 and heading towards Wolftown. Turn right at Wolftown Store onto Rt. 662 and follow till it dead ends at the Shenandoah National Park boundary.
Access to the headwaters can be found by heading west on Rt. 231 from the town of Madison. Turn left at Banco onto Rt. 670 and then turn left onto Rt. 649. Continue on Rt. 649 till you reach the headwaters.
The Rapidan River and it’s tributaries within the Shenandoah National Park and Rapidan Wildlife Management Area are managed as a catch and release fishery. Only single point hook artificial lures may be used. No bait may be in possession while fishing these waters. All trout must be immediately returned to the water unharmed. No trout may be in possession while fishing these waters.
Anglers can expect to find most brook trout in the 7-9 inch range, with the occasional fish up to 10 inch.
Facilities, Amenities, and Nearby Attractions
Parking and information kiosks are located along the stream.
Additional information can be obtained by calling:
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
Fredericksburg Regional Office
Shenandoah National Park