This morning Alex McCrickard stopped in after a productive morning fishing the Gunpowder river with large nymphs and small streamers at 249 Cfs. Alex, now a freshman at The University of the South, sent along some photos and a quick report after fly fishing the Elk River, Tenessee in between classes at Sewanee.
What’s going on? It’s pretty crazy here but I’ve been trying to balance the work load with the social life. That’s an impressive fish Jeffs’ client caught. I have managed to get out on the Elk river twice since I’ve been here at Sewanee. It’s a tailwater that’s about 30 minutes from campus. It has stocked rainbows and browns, pretty much all the fish have a hatchery in their history but some holdover as you can see from the pics. Someone caught a 28 inch brown out of the Elk a few years ago so apparently it can produce big fish. Alot of kids here fly fish and a guy from the East Coast said he had heard of the Gunpowder and had looked through our website before. Pretty cool-but I miss the Gunpowder. I’ll stop by the shop during Fall Break when I’m home for the weekend.
Backwater Angler Staffer and bamboo rod builder Bill Felter sent in an interesting report from this past weekend in western Maryland-
“My birthday was this past Sunday and my wife and I spent part of the holiday weekend doing some light backcountry camping in western Maryland. We passed up the Savage and its perfect flows and instead headed up to a tributary of Savage River Reservoir, for a little brook trout fishing. That was the plan anyway-to fish for brookies-but 10 minutes after leaving the house a deep sense of dread came over me. Oh, crap! The fly rods! I had forgotten the fly rods. Rather than turn back right then I decided that renting one from Mike Evans at Savage River Outfitters would be just as easy and wouldn’t require any backtracking. So I hoped, for when we stopped by his shop later that afternoon the door was locked. He had stepped away from the shop. Bummed out but not soured, we accepted our karmic fate and headed for our campsite thinking that on this trip we would give the brookies a break and instead enjoy everything else that nature had to offer. That was until the Sunday morning when I spotted a reasonably straight Beech branch while searching the hillside for firewood. “Hmm,” I thought. ” I did remember my reels and flies…and the Leatherman’s nice and sharp…I wonder if there are any safety pins in that first aid kit…maybe some tape, too…”. In less than half-an-hour I had a dandy new 5 ft., one piece, 5 weight with attached fighting butt with a Bill Riley patent reelseat.”
Thanks to Adam Wilner for the fishing reports from the San Juan and Animas.
Thanks to a buddy’s wedding, last week I was able to re-visit my old stomping grounds in the Southwest where I used to be guide. The first morning we wet a line in the San Juan river in northern New Mexico. This river probably has more 17-24″ trout per mile than any other river in the country. This tailwater fishery flows through high desert terrain at about 48 degrees all year. Size 20-26 midge and baetis nymphs are the ticket and there are some pools and flats where a tiny midge dry or sparkle dun will fool a few trout. It’s amazing to see all these huge trout swim around your heels as you wade. My buddy Dave, former co-owner of watermaster kickboats, and I managed a handful of beautiful, 14-20″ rainbows on size 22 midge larvae and pupa patterns in the morning then switched to small baetis nymph in the afternoon. I was using a nymph I tied with duck flank that I colored brown on the back, the wing case black, and left the underside natural (cream). Four very large, fiesty rainbows fell for this pattern in the last hour of fishing before we had to rush back to make it to the reheasal dinner.
The next day we managed a few hours on the Animas River right in Durango, CO. This large river had been very good to us in the past, giving up good numbers of very strong 18-20″ rainbow, brown, and cutthroat trout. We both caught a bunch of small rainbows. Then, right before we had to leave, Dave caught a very nice rainbow in one of our “go to” holes. Here it is
The Gunpowder flow is increasing as spillover crests Prettyboy Dam and raises river levels with an additional ten to twenty Cfs. Watch for rainfall to increase flows even more, and allow warmer spillover to jump start hatches by raising water temperatures. The fishing is productive right now using a variety of patterns, and also fishing at different times of day. A number of tricos are still hatching in the mornings, and blue wing olives on cloudy, overcast days. Caddis and midges are hatching in bigger numbers mid to late afternoon, and trout are rising toward dark each day. A small caddis or olive mayfly pattern fished blind in shallow riffles produced six to eight fish for me earlier this week while fishing from shore. A number of fish were rising throughout the afternoon in backeddies and slow pools, but were extremely skittish and taking flies in the 22-26 range. Nymphing WD-40s along with caddis pupa and larva patterns are working well in the deeper riffles. The leaves are starting to turn and some are dropping, especially on windy days. The streamer fishing should be good the next few weeks, before the leaves really start to drop. This morning on my first day back in waders in a month, I fished a three inch long streamer and fooled the nice brown below in a deep riffle.
Please join us for a flyfishing school. On Sunday, October 25, a Backwater Angler Guide will be teaching a fly fishing school that is ideal for beginners. If you’re planning on fly fishing near Baltimore, Maryland, or anywhere else for that matter, this course is a great introduction to the sport. The school covers knots, casting, gear, fly selection and an hour of on-stream instruction. Schools are held in a meadow overlooking the Gunpowder river by a Maryland state licensed and insured fishing guide. Class is held from 11:00 AM till 2:00 PM. Cost is $100 per person and includes the use of gear. A Maryland Non-tidal fishing license and trout stamp is required and may be purchased prior to the class with check or cash at the shop. Class size is limited to 4 and pre-payment is required. Please give us a call at 410-357-9557 or drop us a line at email@example.com to register.
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.
In other news, this Hardy Perfect spool netted by Andy Becker during the Annual shocking survey of the Gunpowder river was a great find. If this keeps up, we might see more metal detectors than fly rods along the banks. One never knows what one might find along the Gunpowder…
The Gunpowder river is flowing at 56 Cfs and climbing, is clear and 56-58 F throughout the catch and release area. High winds and a full reservoir are allowing some slightly warmer water to spill into the Gunpowder river from Pretty Boy Reservoir on a bright fall day. Spillover is good! This morning the wind sock over the grass airfield was arrow straight. Fall is here and my old car now moves with a wake of leaves swirling behind it. We’ve seen only a few Gunpowder Regulars today intent on fishing small midges and the last of the terrestrials. One flatly stated this wind should, “keep folks off the stream and that’s good for me…” Midge activity above Falls Rd has been encouraging, (lots of rising fish) and a little frustrating, (remember the tricos?). Small streamer and caddis have been accounting for many more fish actually tricked throughout the catch and release area. If you’re nymphing keep the leaf catching in check by using a bit less weight on the leader.
Thanks to Steve for the stream report from last week.
Had a small window of time Monday evening, so I drove to Big Falls Road. Didn’t see much bug activity, and very few rises, (although I did catch a huge creek chub) as I worked my way upstream. I went with the standard bead head pheasant tail in size 16 and caught two standard 8” Gunpowder wild browns. In the deep run just upstream from the bridge, I could see fish rolling in the deeper water, taking nymphs I assumed. That’s where the second brown came from. Even with low flows, there are still fish to be had.