Tenkara Trip Reports Trout & Char

A Late Fall Trip to the Shenandoah Mountains

Trip Report by Rob Lepczyk

We had been planning this trip for some time. With the weather we had been having and the coming El Niño we didn’t think too much about fishing that late in the season. But the late the November winds had something else in store for us.

The parking lot at Elkwallow Wayside was empty as we arrived Friday morning. We got our packs out of the Tahoe and sorted the last of the last and started down the Appalachian Trail.

The forecast was for wind gusts over sixty miles per hour and overnight lows in mid-20s.

The hike into the river was 10 or so miles around the backway. We could have taken the easy way, but that’s no fun…

We broke for lunch at the trail split for Neighbor Mountain trail. Windy…

Fall Shenandoah Mountains - Tenkara Angler - Rob Lepczyk - Group Shot
From left: Kyle Wheeler, Myself, and my brother Bryan.

We finally descended into the “Stream That Shall Remain Nameless.”

Fall Shenandoah Mountains - Tenkara Angler - Rob Lepczyk - Unnamed Stream

The first campsite was supposed to be close to where Neighbor Mountain trail connected with Jeremy’s Run trail. It was getting dark and we found a flat spot fitting the criteria for a stealth camp site in Shenandoah National Park.

Once camp was set up, we pulled out the rods and had at it. This was both my brother Bryan’s and our friend Kyle’s first backpacking and tenkara trip, so needless to say they were stoked to give it a try. Both had fly fished before, my brother had fly fished quite a bit.

Fall Shenandoah Mountains - Tenkara Angler - Rob Lepczyk - Kyle Brook Trout
Kyle’s first Brook Trout.

We fished for a bit but the dinner bell was-a-ringin’, so we did that and hung for bit, drinking boxed wine we toted in over the mountain, telling stories and singing songs about dogs. 

Soon the hammocks beckoned and sleep over took us.

The first to arise must get the bear bags…

Fall Shenandoah Mountains - Tenkara Angler - Rob Lepczyk - Bear Bags

After I got the bear bags, we made breakfast and packed camp. Our goal was to fish our way back out onstream over the next two days. It is nice day hike, only about 4.5 miles, but we like to fish a lot, so it naturally takes a bit longer.

We walked for a bit, stopped took our packs off and fished. 

After a little we came back and picked our packs up and kept going. Having all intentions of hiking at least a mile and half that day, we found a great camp spot, near some great pools on the creek, and set up the hammocks and made lunch there.

Fishing until it got dark, we made dinner, drank more and fell asleep to a very clear sky and some of the coldest air we had seen yet.

We woke to a solid frost and lots of condensation on our tarps. Shaking it off, we made breakfast, packed camp and prepared to fish our way out.  Thinking we had about 1.5 miles to go. WRONG!!! We had 4 miles to hike out. Needless to say we didn’t fish as much as we hoped but we did catch fish.

We eventually hiked out and away from the river. Kyle and I got into a groove and didn’t want the hike to end, but it did, and we got back to car around noon.

As we drove out we admired the views from Skyline Drive.


Rob Lepczyk is a former Tenkara USA endorsed guide who has a love for the land and all that it provides. You’ll likely find him minding his small farm and homestead in central New York.

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2016 issue of Tenkara Angler magazine.

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