Hot Summer Fly Fishing on Maryland Tailwaters

Hopper Brown

Maryland’s tailwater fisheries such as the Gunpowder, Savage, and North Branch of the Potomac are all at great flows with water temps in the mid 50’s. Summer hatches of tricos, caddis, bwos, stoneflies and midges are hatching on these rivers through mid to late Summer. The hatches can often be overlooked, in favor of fishing terrestrials, which is some of the most fun and productive fishing. Japanese beetles, crickets, moths, ants and grass hoppers are already crawling on the foliage on the river banks. Guiding and fishing on the Gunpowder the past month has been fun as the trout are really looking up now, and willing to eat a variety of flies. The presentation and approach is critical since the trout are a little wary under the bright midday sun, hiding in logjams, under bushes, branches and undercut banks. Draw the trout from their cover using a bigger dry fly or putting the fly inches from the bank or structure. A beetle or ant has been extremely productive for many anglers fishing throughout the catch and release water. A long leader, 6x-7x tippet and a bit of stealth will help catch these wary, but hungry trout. Backwater Angler Intern Alex McCrickard caught these two nice Gunpowder browns while floating with me through some quiet water. One brown exploded on the hopper when he cast it into the shadows as we drifted along, and the other larger fish took a huge black Kaufmann’s stone he bounced on the bottom.

Gunpowder Brown

I took two trips to western Maryland in late June and again in early July for fishing on the Savage and North Branch of the Potomac Rivers. The Savage River browns were hungry for size 12-16 dries fished in the pockets, behind rocks and along ledges. I caught some 14-16 inch browns and rose a few 17-18 inchers after two afternoons of fishing the Savage. The action wasn’t dependent on any specific hatch matching situation, but more about covering water with big dries, especially the rough water areas. While walking the trails along the North Branch in the mornings, I noticed that hoppers were flying about in good numbers. Some 20 inch browns were willing to inspect my foam and deer hair creations, but dropper nymphs accounted for many smaller fish and a good 19 inch rainbow. Ice cold flows, optimal levels and wild trout on terrestrials, means Maryland is the place to fly fish during these hot Summer months.