Destination File 100: Rose River Farm

by Chris McCotter

In this “business” it’s always been ironic to me that one day I can be standing knee-deep in a nearly freezing trout stream at the foot of the Blue Ridge mountains and the next I’m on a concrete slab at the Maryland State Fairgrounds (a.k.a. – The Cow Palace) setting up for an outdoor show.

That’s where I found myself when I wrote this, but the memories of earlier in my week were already helping me get through the next fours day of the show.

I generally don’t like whiners and won’t whine here, but if you had the choice of manning a 30’ exhibit at a four-day outdoor show or trout fishing a private stretch of a river, I think I know how most of us would respond.

Let’s hearken back to the day of adventure I spend recently with at Rose River Farm near Syria, Virginia.

Now some of you might say, “Syria? Why that’s where Graves Mountain Lodge is,” and you’ be right. However, in the coming years, I think Rose River Farm might be getting just as much name recognition as the Graves’ family operation’s neighbor.

About six years back Douglas Dear left the commercial mortgage banking business and purchased a 200+acre adjoining property that includes a 1.5 mile stretch of the little Rose River. You could say business had been good to him.

The result of this sage purchase was unusual. Dear has created a trout fishing destination that not only welcomes the public but also offers outstandingly managed water and luxury accommodations.

You can fish for native brookies, rainbows and what Douglas called “super-sized” trout in the river and then stay in King’s comfort in modern day yurts and do it all over again the next day.

Dear has two of these round buildings on a hillside overlooking the river. Each sleeps four comfortably with two bathrooms, full kitchen, fly tying vises, comfy couches and flat screen for those post streamside tale telling sessions. Even the gourmet coffee is included.

Get the picture? You are not staying in the animal hide covered stick structure the word yurt normally conjures.

So how was the trout fishing?

Despite the 31-degree air temperature with a heavy mist and ice in the rod guides, it was outstanding. Yes, we were feeling the damp cold in our hands, but Dear dutifully showed us his stretch of the Rose, and I mean to tell you what a nice tour it was, complete with personal introductions to some fine rainbow trout.

My companion for the visit was John Hutchins, a highly skilled bass angler and one of my associate guides on Lake Anna. What most folks don’t know about Hutch is that he’s a world-class fly angler, having guided for seven years at the Sundance Lodge in Utah and even Chile.

He and Dear were similarly travelled and compared photos and pics. Hutchins even recognized and described the river holes our host had fished!

So after some chitchat and a fine mug of Rose River chili and cornbread, we set out to catch some trout for the photo shoot in truly challenging conditions.

There was a bit of shore ice in the slower moving pools and the rod guides accumulated ice balls, but we could also see trout rising all over the river and that made us happy.

A two-fly dropper rig was what fooled ‘em. John figured out the rises were on emerging insects and he constructed a rig on two-pound tippet featuring two #20 midge imitators. He experimented until he found that as soon as both sunk just below the surface and were subtly twitched, those finicky trout would take every time.

It took about 45 minutes to figure this out, so by the time it was a fish on every presentation our hands were cold and time was running out.

Seems like trout fishing (and a lot of my adventures) are like this; once you finally figure it out, time catches up with you.

The trout were lively and beautiful. Those rainbows would roll up and then dive for deeper water. Once they felt the three/four weight rods, though they would erupt from the river and shake like dancing snakes.

We only fished two pools. There are nearly two dozen at Rose River Dear showed us, plus plenty of faster water the trout can migrate into during warmer times. Douglas and John made it so easy, I even put down the camera long enough to make two casts and caught the day’s last trout.

The next time you are wondering where you can go with friends or family to catch some trout, do contact Douglas Dear at Rose River Farm and set up a visit. I’ve been to most of the pay to fish operations in the region and this is one of the best ever.

Dear welcomes families and fishing buddies. He even maintains a fenced paddock for those that want to bring horses with them. Interested in a visit? All booking is done online at

I need to go now, someone is asking about a kayak we are trying to sell here in our show booth.

Until next, time, remember to cherish, protect and conserve the outdoors while sharing it with others.

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