Monthly Archives: November 2011

Thanksgiving Weekend Store Hours

Note: Need a break from the relatives this weekend? The shop will be closed Thursday and will be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10AM till 4PM. The shop will be closed on Monday and will resume regular hours on Tuesday. Happy Thanksgiving!

Spillover Leads to Another Gunpowder River Flood: From Unfishable to Unfathomable

To say that the river is unfishable at these levels is a gross understatement. It’s dangerous, and not just for anyone trying to fish this holiday weekend. Anyone planning on using the river responsibly, (kayakers included) should give it a few days to settle down. Tuesday the Gunpowder River was flowing at a gauge height of 2.35 FT and 203 CFS. Today, the river peaked at 7.2 FT and 1, 690 CFS. The United States Geological Survey, (USGS) measures the Gunpowder River in feet and flow at the Falls Rd gauging station in Parkton, MD.
Gunpowder River in Flood Expressed in Gauge Height in Feet
The top hydrograph shows the dramatic, sudden and dangerous effect that rainfall has on the Gunpowder River when Prettyboy Reservoir is managed by Baltimore City at full pool, (during hurricane season no less) and spillover occurs. The rise in river levels on the top graph is expressed in feet.

Floods caused by spillover are disruptive not only for any recreational users interested in spending a day afield but for the wild fish in this nationally recognized tailwater fishery that have been clearing redds in earnest to spawn the next generation.

At first glance, during a flood of this magnitude, the river is full of water and mud. Upon closer inspection, the spillover and accompanying high flows that cause dangerous river levels upstream in Gunpowder State Park accelerate erosion by undercutting and destabilizing banks and effect the degradation of downstream waters.

The concurrent sediment loading into Loch Raven Reservoir, ignores the 2006 Environmental Protection Agency Total Maximum Daily Load, (TMDL) for Phosphorous and Sediment in Loch Raven. TMDL’s are described in the document as;

A TMDL reflects the total pollutant loading of the impairing substance a waterbody can receive and still meet water quality standards. TMDLs are established to achieve and maintain water quality standards. A water quality standard is the combination of a designated use for a particular body of water and the water quality criteria designed to protect that use. Designated uses include activities such as swimming, drinking water supply…

As it relates to water supply designations, Loch Raven reservoir delivers drinking water to approximately 1.5 million Baltimore metro area residents. However, the protocol that allows severe flooding via spillover not only has the potential to degrade downstream waters but is also counter to The Reservoir Watershed Management Agreement of 2005, Which states in part, under Program Goals that;

The broadest and most fundamental goal of the Reservoir Program is to ensure that the three reservoirs and their respective watersheds will continue to serve as: (a) Sources of high-quality raw water for the Baltimore metropolitan water-supply system; and (b) Areas where the surface waters will continue to support existing environmental, wildlife-habitat, and aesthetic purposes, as well as beneficial recreational uses.

The rise in river levels on the bottom graph is expressed in CFS, (cubic feet per second). For perspective, triangles in the lower quadrant of the graph express daily median flows calculated over the past ten years. Today’s triangle represents a median flow of 49 CFS.
Gunpowder River in Flood Expressed in CFS
The agreement Penned by then Mayor, now Governor, Martin O’Malley and the City Council of Baltimore; Baltimore County, Carroll County; the Maryland Department of the Environment, the Maryland Department of Agriculture; the Baltimore County Soil Conservation District and the Carroll Soil Conservation District; the Reservoir Watershed Protection Committee; and the Baltimore Metropolitan Council is being ignored to the detriment of the river, its biological communities, recreational users and the residents of the Baltimore City Metro Area which depend on the Gunpowder River for their daily drinking water needs. If you’re still reading and are interested in this matter please contact us via email

Related post: Prettyboy Spillover leads to Gunpowder River Flooding Mayhem

Olives, Caddis and a few Rainbows in the Gunpowder

Gunpowder River Hookup
The Gunpowder River is flowing at 124 CFs is 54.5F and clear. Blue Winged Olives are still coming off mid-morning in the flat water. Leaders in the 10ft to 12 ft range ending in 6 or 7x have been necessary to trick the wild fish. With rain in the forecast better fishing days are ahead of us. More rain means more spillover-more flow and ultimately, less selective trout. Hard to believe that it is 64 degrees mid-November! Fly fishing after noon with tiny Caddis are still worth a shot. Those intent on swinging flies are finding no shortage of leaves out there. A safer bet is to dead-drift streamers underneath an indicator-especially around the log jams! Judging from my float this past Saturday with Patuxent RIVERKEEPER Fred Tutman there are still quite a few stocked fish in the lower river that are holding in deep pools.

Frying Pan River Stream Report

Frying Pan River Fly Fishing
Thanks to Mike for the stream report, gear review and pics.

Hey Theaux,
It was great to talk with you today. I look forward to getting the three sets of the Simms HardBite star cleats for the Guide wading shoes…once again, you’ve pointed me in the right direction. They are awesome–both the shoes and the cleats. As to the Airflo Ridge Trout line with the loop, as I mentioned, when fishing on the Fryingpan below Reudi Reservoir (as I’m sure Jason knows, that’s a hog lot if there ever was one), after hooking and playing 5 or 6 22″+ fish, I noticed that the loop on my leader had almost cut through the loop on the line. Not good. So I had the local fly shop (Fryingpan Anglers–great shop, once owned by John Gierach’s friend Roy Palm) cut the loop off and nail knot a piece of heavy mono to the end of the line and tie a perfection loop on to that. Just wanted you to know that the factory loop isn’t as robust as you and I might like it to be. I absolutely love the line, and would buy it again in a heartbeat…just wouldn’t use the loop.Attached are pics of the 22″ bow I mentioned–6X fluorcarbon tippet and a #20 flashback baetis nymph, as well as the uniquely (IMO) colored brown I mentioned. Thanks so much for the hat and the brook trout shirt you’re sending. I really appreciate it. Hope you have a good trip.

Mike Fitzhugh

Frying Pan River Rainbow

Fly Fishing for Northern Pike

Fly Fishing for PikeThanks to Tony for the stream report and photo…better hold onto that camera before that fish eats it!

Great news – those St. Joe Deceivers you tied for my Canadian trip (2) years ago work really well. I caught both fish on my 6 weight with those flies. They have a really nice action and I would like to commission your shop for some more! In the words of my Ojibway Indian guide who saw everything happening in the water, “Holy Jesus, that is a monster”. New personal best on a fly rod that I built myself – 47″ 33 Pounds.


G. LOOMIS PRO-4X FLYRODS in Stock at Backwater Angler

GLOOMIS PRO-4X Freshwater Fly Rods
We recently received a large shipment of this year’s Best in Show at ICAST winning G Loomis Pro-4X rods here at the shop. I have had a chance to play with these rods in weights from 3-10 and I am very impressed. Retailing between $335-$365 , these latest offerings from the wizards at G. Loomis easily cast as well as rods that cost twice as much. I have yet to find anything priced anywhere near the PRO-4X that can do so many things so well. These rods are not as fast as other Loomis products we have had in the shop, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. The NRX was a real boomer but was almost too powerful for most of the trout fishing we do here on the east coast. These new Loomis rods strike a happy medium and are a real joy to cast. The tips are soft but recover well and the butt section has enough reserve power to punch a lot of line out when you need it. The 3 and 4 weights are light and accurate and would shine for all around duty here on the Gunpowder, while the 5 and 6 weights would be right at home throwing large terrestrials and streamers out west. Where I believe these rods really come into their own, however, is in the heavier weights. I’ve found it very difficult to find a great fast action saltwater rod without spending upwards of $600-Look no further. Offered in 9 & 10 foot 7wt-10wts, these rods can comfortably throw a #4 Gotcha at distant tailing bonefish and just as easily heave a heavy sinking line at big fall rockfish here on the Chesapeake. We have a number of PRO-4X’s in the rack so feel free to come up and cast these rods with us. As with all G. Loomis rods, the PRO-4X’s are proudly made in the USA.
G LOOMIS PRO-4X Saltwater Flyrods

Stream Report From Colorado’s Yampa River

Yampa River, CO Fly Fishing for Brown Trout
Thanks to Terry for the August stream report from Colorado’s Yampa River,

Hi Theaux:
I had a great week of fishing in Colorado Aug 8-12. For the last 10-12 years, I always try to catch a rainbow on my birthday in August, and it isn’t always easy to find reliable water out West to have great fishing. Over the last 6 years, I have found that the waters around Steamboat Springs are high, clear and trout-abundant around mid-August. This year, even more so, because of the extremely high snowpack this last winter. I fished for 5 straight days and averaged 20-24 good fish every day, but it wasn’t until the last hour of fishing on the last day, Friday, I caught the 22” rainbow and 26” brown in these pictures. In both cases, it was a “one-cast chance”, as the fish were in clear, relatively shallow water, and a missed-cast would certainly spook them. So, I was lucky enough to 1-cast each of them, fight them hard for quite a few minutes each, and bring to hand a couple of beauties that are a credit to the name “trout”.

I’ll be back on the Gunpowder next weekend; but it will be awhile before I forget these 2 beauties!

All the best.

Beginner’s Fly Fishing School This Sunday, November 6th

Please join us for a flyfishing school. On Sunday, November 6, a Backwater Angler Guide will be teaching a fly fishing school that is ideal for beginners. If you’re planning on fly fishing in 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 to register.