Monthly Archives: November 2010

How to Survive Winter Fishing

Got a minute?
Thanks to George for once again including me in his always insightful One Minute How-To program. We discussed, albeit briefly, How to Survive Winter Fishing, it’s episode #525 and my third foray into podcasting. For anyone out there that feels they can condense some know how into a one minute segment be sure to drop George a line. He’s always interested in new topics.

Related Podcasts:

How to Ask for a Fishing Report

How to Take Someone Fly Fishing

November Fly Fishing on the Gunpowder

Winter Fly Fishing the Gunpowder River
The Gunpowder river is flowing at 35 Cfs and is low, clear and 47 F. Fish have been looking up this week. Cloudy days have allowed folks to get a bit closer to the fish with patterns imitating tiny BWO’s and small midges. Nymphing with brassies and caddis larva is a safe bet in the riffles in the mornings. Please consider limiting your wading this time of year, use the excellent trail network along the creek, and target rising fish.
Thanks to Skye, Terry and Kiki for the stream reports and pics:

Hi Theaux,
Caught this beautiful brown on 6x with a size 20 RS2 (that I picked up
from the muffin tins last week) trailed behind a size 16 prince nymph
this morning below the Falls Road bridge.


Hi Theaux:
I have never been on the GP from York Rd downriver. (After having to thread my way for 20 minutes through some huge Hereford High School mega-sporting event, I thought: this sure better be worth it!) I had to hike ¾ mile to get away from the highway noise, but then I found some beautiful pools of rising fish. Caught several 8” brownies and lost a few more. All on size 18 BWO floater. And the river and the trees were absolutely beautiful! Saw about 5-6 hikers; not another person on the river until I hiked back out and found someone coming in at the bridge at York Rd – I said: I am turning this stretch over to you; may you love it the way I did.


I was up on the Gunpowder on Sunday and was trying out a new bamboo rod I had just received and had a great day! As you can see from the picture. I fished down stream from the Massemore Bridge and was lucky enough to be there as the Blue Wing Olives were doing their thing! I caught 6 nice little browns as I moved down stream. The flows were low but the fish were high!
I saw only two other anglers so I had most of the section to myself. Finished up the day above the bridge hoping for the midge hatch but it was not to be oh well…. A great day!

Kiss more fish,

Winter Flyfishing the Gunpowder River with Bwo's

Related Post:
Watch Your Step on the Gunpowder

G.Loomis NRX Rods In Maryland

G Loomis Fish Logo
The new NRX Rods from G.Loomis have arrived in the shop, and are available in line weights for fresh and salt water fishing. Short of rehashing industry terminology, the NRX rods are extremely light, yet powerful. We took them to the lawn in four, five, eight and nine weights (all 9 feet long) to test them out. The four weight was definitely not as fast as I expected (power often equates to stiffness) and loaded quickly. Surprisingly the rod worked with little effort at twenty feet, yet never lost power at three times that distance. The four and five weight rods worked at distances we fish locally, but had the extra stiffness in the butt section to handle heavy flies, or longer casts. The NRX rods in the eight and nine weight models paired with floating lines loaded in close with a few false casts. The eight weight could easily shoot forty to fifty of line in a few false casts with a well timed haul, which is ideal for flats fishing. The nine weight matched up with a 24 foot 300 grain sinking tip fly line was a great combination for effortlessly launching line at longer distances. We had a number of inquiries the past few weeks about these rods. For those interested in casting the latest offering from G.Loomis, we have a number of these rods in the rack. Another new addition in the shop is Fish Pimp indicators and accessories, including line cleaner and floatant. Fish Pimp indicators are a “football style” indicator which also allow right angle nymphing. They are sold in two sizes and are available in a variety of colors.

Fall Fly Fishing On The Gunpowder River

The Gunpowder is flowing at 34 CFs, low and clear. The lower sections of the C & R have slightly higher flows from the smaller tributaries that enter the river. The flow in the Glencoe Rd stretch leveled out at 75 Cfs, after spiking from recent rains. The low water conditions make for challenging fishing, but anglers are still catching fish on a variety of patterns. Dry flies are still working as searching patterns and indicators with small nymphs dropped behind. Olives and X-caddis patterns are working and we have a number of these locally tied patterns. Nymph rigs with tiny nymphs and midge larvae are working well in the deeper pools. The shop has a lot of newly designed midge and nymph patterns from sizes 18-24. In the low water conditions where anglers spend their time will lead to success or failure. Anglers should stay out of the flat water areas and limiting wading as much as possible. Deep holes, bend pools and logjams are good places to focus on fishing. The upper accesses are always more popular, while the lower sections require more walking to find the good spots. I recently noticed the majority of the leaves dropped and cleared out, so the worst of the “leaf hatch” is behind us.

Shallow Water Brown
In these low water conditions it is pretty easy to spot fish like the one above in the crystal clear water. This is also the time of year where it isn’t uncommon to see numerous browns in the shallows. On a few recent outings I noticed some redds in different sections of the river. During a guide trip I pointed out a few redds to a client, and we watched a thick sixteen inch brown and smaller brown paired up. We actually saw them in the process of spawning, and moved onto another area. Be sure to limit wading around riffles and tailouts, especially if the gravel appears cleaner than the surrounding bottom.

Intermediate Fly Tying:Caddis Lifecycle

Fly Fishing Maryland? Please join us for an intermediate Fly Tying Class on Sunday, November 21, 2010 from 10:00 AM till 1:00 PM. The class focuses on Gunpowder river caddis patterns. Our very own Gunpowder river guides will be teaching this fun-filled lifecycle class. Cost of the class is $45 per person, and includes the use of materials. Please bring your own tools. The class is limited to six and pre-registration is required. Please give us a call at 410-357-9557 or drop us a line at to pre-register.

Gunpowder River Gets More Wader Wash Stations

Thanks to Ron Klauda, Director of the Monitoring and Non-tidal Assessment Division in Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources and Co-Chairman of DNR’s Invasive Species Matrix Team for visiting the shop on Oct 27 and giving a very insightful invasive species talk. The talk was well attended and included overviews of invasives ranging from Snakeheads to Virile Crayfish. Ron also pointed out other less conspicuous invasives like the introduced Blue and Flathead Catfish that are equally challenging to manage. He also reported on Didymo and the steps MD/DNR and Backwater Angler have taken to contain it within the Gunpowder. Because of the hard work undertaken by DNR and Baltimore County staff at DNR’s Gwynnbrook facility we’ll have five more wader wash stations along the Gunpowder River this season. Thanks to all of the DNR and Baltimore County staff for their hard work in putting the stations together!

Here’s a photo of the DNR folks from our Invasive Species Matrix Team that built the 12 new wader wash stations on Oct. 28. The Team Co-chair, Jonathan McKnight, is the third person from the left.

Ron Klauda

Wader Wash Crew

Fly Fishing this Fall? Sign up for a Nymphing Clinic

Please join us for a Nymphing clinic on Saturday November 13, a Backwater Angler Guide will be teaching a clinic that is ideal for beginner to intermediate anglers, and especially helpful for experienced anglers that might need a “brush-up” on techniques prior to a destination trip. The clinic covers gear, techniques, and fly selection. Class is held from 11:00 AM till 1:00 PM. Cost is $75 per person and participants should bring their own gear. Please give us a call at 410-357-9557 or drop us a line at to pre-register. Clinics are held on the Gunpowder river by a Maryland state licensed and insured fishing guide.Clinic is limited to three. Fee:$75 per person

Didymo In Western Rivers

Didymo Below Ruedi Dam, CO
My two recent trips out West to Colorado and Montana provided some good fishing opportunities on new water. The trips also enlightened me on the current range of Didymo in the West. On my second day nymphing on the Frying Pan, I was frequently catching the green stringy algae, typical in most rivers. Yet, on a few occasions I pulled in some rather large, snotty fibrous growths. I immediately recognized that white, gelatinous, dripping mass that enveloped my fly. No one in the parking lot or fly shops could confirm if its presence was documented, and many had never heard of Didymo. I did see signs posted warning of the spread of Whirling disease. Later that day I phoned a biologist at the Colorado Division of Wildlife who verified Didymo’s presence in the river. I was informed the growths were generally not a nuisance, except in certain sections of river. In a week of fishing I noticed the bottom in the upper mile was totally covered like the rock below.
Didymo On Frying Pan River Rock
Fast forward to Montana a month later, and I noticed how white the bottom of the Blackfoot River appeared. On closer inspection the swaying of long white “rat tails” could be seen on the dark river bottom. The growths in some sections literally “blanketed” the bottom under inches of tan-gray algae, far worse than anything I’ve seen during the worst blooms back East. Later in the week I saw thick growths of Didymo on the Bitterroot River. I contacted Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, and also Bob Wiltshire, Executive Director For Center Of Aquatic Nuisance Species. I was curious of the extent of Didymo’s known range in Montana, and what effects it had on those rivers? My email from MTFWP was quickly returned with an email detailing how Didymo was considered native to Montana. They also verified the presence of Didymo in all the rivers I mentioned. I also received an email back from Bob, and his response offered a bit more insight into the current situation regarding Didymo in Montana. I included his response below.


You are right about the Didymo in MT. Many of the rivers you fished have just been identified with the algae this year. I have worked with a number of guides and others in Western MT to get proper identification as we have a couple of other stalked diatoms that it can be confused with. However, the bottom line is that MT has it all over the place. In addition to the waters you mentioned, it is in tributaries to the Yellowstone River, in the main Kootenai River and in many streams around Glacier Park. The new discoveries in MT this year have mostly been in the Bitterroot and Flathead basins, both of which are part of the presumed native range.

Didymo presents a special problem in Montana. It is actually a native species here so Fish, Wildlife & Parks does not consider it to be an invasive species. Therefore, they are effectively ignoring its presence and spread. In terms of the native range of Didymo, there is little accurate info about the exact range. The literature states the the native range is the “northern latitudes” of North America. As far as I know, no one has done much work to try to establish the exact boundaries of the native range. However, I think it is probably safe to assume that it was native to all of Montana and much of the Northern Rockies. I don’t know the specifics of Colorado native distribution. The problem is that no one has any idea of why it is sometimes a serious nuisance and other times nothing more than a patch of fuzz on a rock. We have historic records of nuisance blooms in the 1980’s, so we know it has happened in the past. Yet, the past problems vanished and we had no nuisance problems until about 3 years ago. Now the nuisance blooms are spreading rapidly. There are a lot of theories about why but the bottom line is that no one knows and that we are unlikely to find out any time soon.
Bob Wiltshire

Didymo Growth From Gunpowder River
For East Coast anglers, it is still unclear what the effects this invasive diatom will have on our fisheries. If anything, the West can offer some insight into the blooms within its native range. One popular myth I’ve heard is that only tail waters are at risk, but the majority of Montana rivers with the worst blooms I witnessed were freestones. Another unknown factor with this algae is the “dormancy period” where it’s unnoticeable one year, and the next year, unbearable. On the Gunpowder we have seen a similar seasonal fluctuation in blooms, but know little other than it seems to prefer cold water. We have yet to see whether the Savage will experience the same fluctuations and cycles, but I did find small traces this Summer. For something so widespread, it is surprising how little is known about this invasive algae.

Wild Browns, Olives, Caddis and Shop Hours

Gunpowder Brown Trout
Just a friendly reminder that this is what a wild brown trout looks like. I can assure you that you won’t find them during half-time. Now is the time to figure out how the Tivo works. The Gunpowder is flowing at 32 Cfs is low, clear and full of leaves. Nymphing has been especially tough this week. Streamer fishing has created some interesting catches. If you’re a die hard dry fly fisherman things are looking up.
Keep in mind that it’s very important to find rising fish rather than cover a lot of water blind. Small olives mid-morning in the #20-22 range followed by a just a few caddis sized #16 by afternoon are worth a shot. We have some October caddis in the muffin tins and trust that the trout are not looking at the calendar as hard as we are…

Please Note: Shop hours on the weekends in November will revert to 10 till 4 PM on Saturdays and Sundays till the Spring!

Gunpowder Gold Firsthand

Fall Fly Fishing the Gunpowder

Thanks to the great group of kids from Harford Day school who joined me for a streamwalk, fly tying, invasive species chat and a little fly fishing at Bunkerkill access point yesterday in the pouring down rain.
…and thanks to Lance for the fishing report and photo from last week along the Gunpowder.

Hey Theaux
Just wanted to tell you that I caught a brown today out of the upper Gunpowder. I was using a white minnow pattern and it was a great day for fishing. It was caught close to a tree and hit like a ton of bricks. From there it went into the rapids and sat there like dead weight.

Lance M

If you won’t fish who will? …middleschoolers and Lance will…that’s who.