Thanks to Joe Matthews for the report and picture from the North Branch of the Potomac River from early September that pointed to early fall fly fishing picking up in Western Maryland. For release information for the Savage and North Branch this weekend, be sure to check out the US Army Corp of Engineers Current and Projected Releases Page and plan your trip accordingly.
Sorry for not getting back to you sooner. A buddy and I fished the Savage and North Branch the weekend before last (9/6-9/7). Fished the Savage first, from 11:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Picked up some 10-14″ browns on nymphs during the first hour, but things slowed down after that. We should have switched to terrestrials when the fish stopped taking nymphs, but we wanted to dredge some of the deeper runs with nymphs to get into bigger fish. Didn’t really pan out…things were very slow with only a couple more fish picked up in the last 4 hrs or so.
We fished the N Branch the next day, again getting a late start because we had trouble finding the Barnum access. Started out just upstream of Blue Hole at 11 a.m. nymphing and fished for 3 hours with no luck. We then moved up to the C&R fly fishing only section and nymphed a big run–we immediately hooked fish. My buddy caught a stocked bow and I hooked a bigger stocker, but lost it after a jump. No sign of any browns…it was fun to play those big rainbows though.
Even though things were slow for most of the trip aside from the first hour or so on the Savage, I learned a lot about these rivers just from fishing them once. Looking back, either my buddy or I should have committed to fishing terrestrials for a couple of hours–I think a good beetle or ant pattern may have been effective where our nymphs were ignored. Sunken ant would have been a good call too, but never tried it. I guess our quest for bigger fish made us think deeper was better, but there was a lot of holding water on the North Branch that could be fished effectively with a beetle or ant on top, as well.We also should have fished later. We were off the water by 6 p.m. both days because of our camping and travel plans. Fishing until dark would have given us more opportunities to find risers. Oh well, hindsight is 20/20.
Thanks again for the info you shared about these rivers. Attached are a few pics from the North Branch. Hope to get out your way and fish the Gunpowder soon.