Although the Shenandoah River flows only about 70 miles west of the metropolises of D.C. and Baltimore, you’d never know it when you’re floating through the rolling hills of this gorgeous borderland between northern Virginia and the West Virginia panhandle. And if you’re a smallmouth junky, what you’ll find here is a healthy population of trophy bronze without the crowds attracted to more well-known rivers like the Susquehanna to the north and the New to the south. Knowing that host Joe Cermele has the smalljaw sickness bad, veteran Shenandoah guide Travis Edens of King Fisher Guide Services didn’t have to twist his arm to get him down to his home waters, which Edens refers to as a “diamond in the rough.” Of course, thanks to an abnormally wet spring, Edens’ prefered stretch on the lower Shenandoah near Harpers Ferry, W.V., had been on a roller coaster ride of clarities before the crew showed up. Armed with only fly rods and limited spinning tackle, the coffee-colored water meant thinking fast and shifting gears to the North Fork of the Shenandoah. While this wasn’t plan A, it proved to be an exceptional plan B, filthy with just the right kinds of structure to make a fly angler giddy. The team had to put their heads together to get on the big bronze in new water, but once they got dialed in, it was game on with bass pushing 20 inches. Add in shots at monster carp sipping berries, and you’ve got three incredible days of floating.