This thoughtful letter was sent to the shop by a Gunpowder Regular. I would like to here from other fly fisherman regarding park use issues and your experiences with others user groups in the Hereford Area of Gunpowder State Park.
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December 23, 2006
As the end of the year approaches, it seems to be a good opportunity to reflect on the events and activities of the past year. I have the great fortune to live in the Monkton area and spend a great deal of time in close proximity to the Gunpowder Falls. I enjoy fishing, running with my yellow lab Moose, hiking, and cross-country skiing (if it ever snows). As much as I may treasure my reflections of the experiences from this past year, everything is overshadowed by the awareness of an insidious factor that has come to have an impact on all of these experiences – trail erosion. It seems to me that this year has been characterized by a sudden increase in the use of our trails by horses. Certainly there is a place for horses in the Gunpowder State Park, however I am uncertain that it is appropriate on all trails and all times. It is especially disturbing the see the frequency of use during wet periods. Once the root systems lying beneath the trail are torn up, the trail turns into a deep muck that requires a long time to dry out. Not only are the trails being destroyed and covered in manure, but the run off from these trails eventually makes its way into our beloved river. I have also noticed trail maintenance and clearing of downed trees from the trails; this would appear to be a good thing, however, it was my understanding that the DNR was planning to keep the trails as close to a natural state as possible. If that is the case, who is doing the work? Is it legal and in the spirit of keeping the trails wild? Are the trails being cleared to make passage easier for the horses? Trail work to prevent erosion is laudable, however if the intent is to make it easier for horses to pass through and consequently create greater damage, then this work should not be done. There are stretches of the trail along the north side of the river between Masemore and Bunker Hill that were damaged by horses during a winter about 10 years ago that have since turned into mud pits. These areas have never recovered. Trail users avoid theses spots and have created paths alongside. Is this what the future of the trail system holds – multiple braided paths, some ankle deep in mud, spilling their content into the Gunpowder with every good rain? I sure hope not. Unfortunately this seems to be the likely outcome if there is a significant increase of equestrian use of the trail system in the Hereford area.
The purpose of this letter is to find out if there are other anglers out there that have seen the same changes and to find out how to approach this issue. Fifteen years back, I was riding a mountain bike through this same area. When the laws were passed to exclude biking, my initial reaction was one of great dismay. It is now clear that this was a wise decision on the part of the state; I cannot imagine what shape this park would be in if the trail system was subject to heavy bicycle traffic. Perhaps there is a way to protect the Gunpowder State Park from this new threat, Ideally, this park would be passed on to future generations so that they could have the same, if not a better, experience as the current users. It would be a shame to leave them a park with a mangled trail system and a river destroyed by run-off.
If you are aware of any activity, (such as illegal tree cutting) that you deem damaging to park lands please send us a note and we’ll forward it to the right folks. We may also ask your permission to post it on this site.Potential topics might include: Examples of stream etiquette, (both good and bad), and/or confrontations with poachers, ect.. Please email us a note at:firstname.lastname@example.org
The river is still low and clear, at 32 Cfs. Water temps are 44F to 46F throughout the catch and release area. We’re seeing Stoneflies, as witnessed by this great shot by Jason du Pont.
On brighter days, black flies and cream midges should provide some light entertainment above Falls Rd. Fish are still holding in very shallow, quiet water at the base of riffles and in flats. Long leaders ending in 6 and 7x are essential to get close enough to the fish to trick them. Stonefly nymphs in the #10-14 range are working along the banks between Bunkerhill and Big Falls Rd.
If you want a trouble-ree, light, American made fly reel that can take some abuse, look no further than the M superlight series. We’ve had a few in the Guide service since 2001 and they’re still going strong.
This 22″ fish, released by Jason du Pont, fell for a #18 curved shank pheasant tail after the first snow last year.
Now that I have your attention, the water temps have cooled a little in the past week. Currently, the river is flowing at 32 Cfs, and water temps have cooled a bit from the a high last week of 48 F to a low this morning of 42 F. We ‘ve been finding lots of fish in riffles and shallow flats with #10-#16 Copper Johns. The fish are ambushing stoneflies nymphs along deadfalls and log jams before the nymphs can crawl out and hatch out of their nymphal shucks. We’ve had reports of stonefly adults reported most afternoons from Bunkerhill Rd. through Bluemount Rd. Foam stonefly patterns and traditional quill-winged stones are worth a shot. If you want to fish smaller, midge activity is still more consistent above Falls Rd. Black flies, and cream midges are a good bet, and an Adams in a #20-22 is a great searching pattern this time of year. Stop in this weekend and check out a new midge emerger Jason just tied up.
Many thanks to Jim and Karen for the following feedback from another successful Beginners Tying Class.
Yesterday, I attended your beginners fly-tying class, taught by Jason. It was truly a great class. I learned a bunch, tied up a few flies I am confident could actually trick a fish or two (depending on my on-the-water skills!), and had fun doing it! Jason is a fine and patient instructor.
Thanks for having the class.
…and from Gaithersburg, MD
I enjoyed the tieing class held on Saturday, 1/6/07.
Jason’s enthusiasm and patience were great. Might I suggest (I am a teacher, therefore I am a compulsive student), that he give us a one page handout that doesn’t really need to list the steps but the materials needed to replicate the flies made in class.
The river is low, and flowing at 28Cfs, a little off color-owing to reservoir turnover, and the water temperature has moved from the mid 40’s to 52 F. Little black stoneflies in the #16-18 range and little brown stoneflies in the #14-16 range have been spotted in the past few days from Bunkerhill road downstream through Bluemount. Fish are still holding in water we’d normally walk through, so take your time out there and be stealthy. Thanks to Capt. Jeff Lewatowski for the following report and picture.
Despite low water conditions yesterday, we enjoyed a great day of fishing on the Gunpowder upstream of Big Falls Rd. Several small browns fell victim to our dropper nymph rigs early in the day. Small #18 pheasant tails with a shuck worked paired with a larger attractor nymph like a prince or caddis pupa in a #14. We were pleasantly surprised to come upon several pods of fish rising actively to little brown stoneflies. We saw lots of stones crawling out of the stream on logs , and dancing their way down river. Though we didn’t land many, the risers kept us busy through most of the afternoon. Here’s a couple shots of the bugs. Hopefully a sign of good thing to come.