Category Archives: news

the news section is for shop events and programs

Jerry Kustich Book Signing at Backwater Angler on December 2nd, 2017 from 11 AM till 1 PM

Our good friend Jerry Kustich is at it again with a new book just in time for reading weather! Please join us this Saturday, December 2 from 11 AM till 1 PM for a book signing. Jerry will also bring some of the wonderfully light, powerful and smooth Sweetgrass Bamboo rods for folks to cast and admire. Here is a press release description of the new book:

In the latest collection of essays and fishing tales by Jerry Kustich the title story depicts the potential desecration of the pristine Holy Water section of Michigan’s fabled Au Sable River. As in his other books Kustich takes us on an insightful journey of happiness and sorrow with words that are as humorous as they are thoughtful. From Montana to Russia to Mexico to Newfoundland and beyond Kustich emphasizes that wherever we go to seek fish, on so many levels, all water is holy. This book is a journey well worth taking.

Patagonia Gear at Backwater Angler

We have received a shipment of Patagonia gear at Backwater Angler! I am going to focus on the gloves, since it is that time of year after all. I have used the fingerless homepool gloves the past two winters. They keep your palm and fingers free whilst the 2.5mm neoprene keeps your hands nice and warm. The touch of your palm on the cork and line allows you to detect subtle takes when fishing delicate nymph rigs through the winter months.

We have answered phone calls over recent weeks regarding the R1 gloves. They are extremely useful when releasing fish and keeping your hands comfortable and dry. In the coldest of days these will have you focusing on fishing and not on how cold your hands are!! This is what Patagonia has to say about them:

When arctic air pushes into the Great Lakes, frozen fingers and numb hands send most anglers to the couch. But the fish are still there. With our toasty R1® Gloves, your hands stay warm and nimble even in icy wind and lake-effect snow. The thin, flexible 1.5mm smooth-skin neoprene outer stops wind and shrugs off moisture, while the fast-drying 100% recycled polyester lining locks in warmth. Three-panel, stitched-and-glued construction with anatomically placed seams provides remarkable form-fitting comfort, dexterity and durability.

Patagonia Hats and Stickers

Happy Thanksgiving! Save 15% on Guide Trips Gift Certificates for 2018 Purchased this Weekend!

The shop pictured above and below will be closed Thanksgiving week from Tuesday through Thursday and will reopen Friday from 10 till 5 and this Saturday and Sunday from 10 till 4.

We are especially thankful this year for our customers that support the shop. Working in a job that allow us to take a walk along the river before, after and sometimes during work is something we’ll never take for granted. Without your support we would not be celebrating our 17th year in 2018.

Call us during shop hours on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and save 15% on any fly fishing guide trips that are paid in full. We will issue a gift certificate redeemable for a guide trip to be taken during the 2018 season on the Gunpowder. Finding a day to go fishing with us next year is up to you!

Gunpowder River November stream report

Rainy day at masemore

Thanks to Gene for the photos and following report:

The Gunpowder is 40 cfs at falls road and temperatures remain around the 50 degree mark.

November has brought chilly temperatures finally and some needed rain. Swinging small streamers or wet flies such as hares ear and royal coachman has made for very good fishing in the riffles and runs. Fish that are on the lookout for an opportunistic meal tend to be tight up against the banks. When targeting these areas, focusing on making shorter more accurate casts will produce more solid hook ups.

brown trout in net

October on the Gunpowder

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The Gunpowder is gin clear, 35.7 cfs and starting the day at 49 degrees.

Beautiful autumn colors and vibrant trout abound on the Gunpowder. The fishing has been good as normal for this time of year. Many are reporting observing strong caddis hatches, tan size 18, in the late afternoon through the evening that are bringing up lots of fish. Terrestrials and midges have also been working great. A Griffiths gnat size 20-24 is a super go-to at this time of year in the flat pools where fish are sipping.

New Zealand Mudsnails

IMG_3156A population of New Zealand mudsnails (Potamopyrgus antipodarum)has been confirmed by Maryland DNR in the following press release. Thanks also to Scott Dance for early coverage in the Baltimore Sun of the prescence of the invasive New Zealand Mudsnails in the Upper Gunpowder River.

There are two schools of though on invasives; one is the “aw shucks” approach to let thing be, the other more conservative approach is apt to slowing the spread of invasives by educating river users and taking steps to containing invasives to the affected waterbodies. The good folks at MDDNR should be applauded by taking the conservative approach of letting angler’s know about this new invasive species of concern.

“We’ve been dealing with Didymo or “Rock Snot” an invasive algae in these waters since 2008. Initially the Backwater Angler shop maintained wader wash stations and in 2010 Gunpowder Riverkeeper took over maintenance of the stations with volunteers. Anglers are the vectors. We have anglers that fish globally. The Gunpowder is a nationally recognized wild trout fishery and made Field and Streams Top 5 tailwater or dam controlled rivers list in 2005. Whether it came from the Madison or Spring Creek is immaterial at this point. The only other known area on the East coast is Spring Creek in Centre County, PA. The Centre Daily covered the occurrence back in 2013.
Invasive species tend to inhabit disrupted ecosystems. It is widely known that the Gunpowder system has too many nutrients namely Phosphorous and Nitrogen that can be contributing to their abundance. Once established, New Zealand mudsnails can amass in such large quantities at over 300,000 per square meter. At these levels they are best described as biofoulers-like zebra mussels and are known to clog water intakes. Something to consider given that the Gunpowder River supplies water regionally to 1.5 million residents in the metro-area.

Because the snails are very hardy and temp, turbidity and salt they could move quickly into the rest of the Gunpowder system well below Loch Raven. Gunpowder Riverkeeper advises all visiting boaters and anglers to take precautions to clean check and dry their gear including physical methods like soaking gear in hot water or freezing gear before and after visiting the Gunpowder to reduce the chance of spreading invasive species.

Recent literature from the Oregon State indicates that New Zealand Mudsnails can also adapt to high salinity environments. Here is the USGS take on these critters that also includes a distribution map.

Finally, here is guidance hot of the press from MDDNR on cleaning protocols.After fishing in the Gunpowder Falls, at least one of the following decontamination methods should be completed:
Soak waders, boots, and equipment in a bath of 20 g/L Virkon Aquatic for 15 to 20 minutes. Spray application alone is not a reliable method of disinfection.

· Soak waders, boots, and equipment in hot water (>60oC) for at least 5 minutes (Not recommended for Gortex).

· Freeze waders, boots, and equipment for at least 6 hours at -3oC.

· Dry waders, boots, and equipment completely for at least 48 hours.


If you are still reading we need your financial support to keep the River protected now and in the future. Please consider a charitable contribution of support to protect the River.

You may donate at: or by sending a check to Gunpowder RIVERKEEPER®, P.O. BOX 156 Monkton, MD 21111.

Thank you for your support!
Theaux M. Le Gardeur

GRK is a 501(c)(3) non-profit categorized by the IRS under Natural Resource Conservation and Protection. Your donation is tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

Late September on the Gunpowder


The Gunpowder is at 33 cfs and starting the day cold at 50 degrees at Falls road. The flows continue to be low for this time. However the past week the flows have been steady and with ideal water temperatures the fishing can be good, fish will always be opportunistic at this time of year. Caddis, around size 18, have been hatching in the afternoons through the evening from falls and the fish key in on these when happening. In the evenings, from the dam down to bunker hill area, tiny cream midges are hatching that are around size 24. Small subsurface patterns like Zebra midges, patterns for caddis pupa and small nymphs will do well in the riffles and fast water.

Low Water fishing on the Gunpowder.

The Gunpowder is flowing at 28cfs and gin clear. Water temperatures are starting out at 54 degrees and rising to the 60 degree mark at the warmest part of the day. Thanks to Stefan for the following report & photos.

With low water conditions on the gunpowder fishing has been tough. With that being said fish still have to eat and fishing long 10-13 foot leaders tapering to 6 or 7x will get them to do just that. Ants and beetles will draw the most consistent dry fly action in the heat of the day, if you are fishing in the morning or evening a small size 16-18 tan caddis should do the trick. Streamers fished early in the morning will also provide a few eats.

Streamer eater
Early morning streamer eater.

Gene with a brown taken on a small caddis.

Terrestrial time on the Gunpowder

Evening light on the Gunpowder

The Gunpowder is clear, flowing at 61 cfs with water temperatures in the high 50’s.

As the sulphurs are finally winding down fish start to diversify their feeding habits. This means anglers who are willing to fish different methods depending on the conditions will typically catch more fish. Caddis are hatching regularly and fishing size 14-18 caddis patterns; pupa, emerger or adult patterns will all work. Terrestrials cast up along the bank is usually effective for tricking those fish who are keeping an eye out for an easy meal. Zonkers and wooly buggers have been catching the larger fish when fished tight to undercut banks.

Streamer fish in the rain

Sulphurs on the Gunpowder River

Maryland Fly Fishing Shop Backwater AnglerThe Gunpowder River is clear, flowing at 90 CFS and is 59F. Thanks to Gene for the fishing report. We have plenty of Sulphur emergers in the Muffin tins on the front counter. Stop in this weekend through Monday to round up what you need to get out there and catch a few wild fish and find some peace. Please remember those who served and made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

The flows on the gunpowder have continued to provide ideal conditions for fishing the Sulphur hatch. Whilst the large sulphurs are still hatching, smaller sulphurs E. dorothea, size 18 are beginning to outnumber them, especially in the upper river above Falls road where you can find them hatching right through the evening. Caddisflies remain very active, mainly downstream from Falls road, where you can find them hatching in intermittent bursts. It’s always useful to have a selection of caddis patterns ready in case the fish begin to key in on them.

Please note: The shop will be open on Memorial Day from 10 AM till 5 PM.