The Snow is Letting Go on the Gunpowder River

Falls Rd Bridge on the Gunpowder River Socked in

Snow still blankets ice over the rocky trails along the Gunpowder River after winter storm dropped 32″ of snow in the Hereford Zone during the last week of January. These shots looking upstream and downstream from the Falls Rd bridge were taken at a river height of 2.79 FT and 300 CFs the afternoon before the snow and ice let go. The next day the Gunpowder River bumped up to 4.97 FT and 900 Cfs in the upper catch and release area. Conditions on the trails are still icy, the river, at present is too high and dangerous to wade fish at 470 Cfs. Before heading out please check the stream gauge or call the the shop over the weekend for the latest updates on conditions. As long as nighttime temperatures stay cold and we don’t lose all the snow at once we’ll be fishing streamers if the river drops below 250 Cfs by late Sunday afternoon.

Please note: We just received a shipment of the new Patagonia Ultralightweight II Wading Boots–a sturdier update to our shop favorite. I’m certain that we’ll have time to fit you into some lucky shoes for the upcoming season and well be happy to put in some fresh studs while you wait!

Snowy Boulder Pools on the Gunpowder River

New Year’s Eve Fishing Report

Stream-Bred Gunpowder Brown Trout
The Gunpowder River is clear, flowing at 139 Cfs and is 49 degrees F. Large prince nymphs and other stonefly patterns like Copper Johns are great to fish in higher flows. Try a small midge larva or midge pupa behind the heavier fly on 6x tippet. The wind has been a problem for those dead set on fishing dries. If you have a sink-tip or Clouser-style streamer you’ll stay warmer by limiting your wading by staying out of the water and taking advantage of the great trail network. As Josh reports below, streamers have been the ticket this week. Thanks for supporting our small shop this year-we’re looking forward to seeing more of you fly fishing the Gunpowder River and beyond in 2016!

Please Note: The shop will be closed New Year’s Day but if you’re fishing on the 1st and need a license please go to

Thanks to Josh Reider for the stream report and great photos.

This past week the fish have been much more active due to the spring like temperatures and rain. This time of the year we are often left nymphing small midge patterns and constantly cleaning didymo off our flies. However, the past few days I have been fishing small streamers and successfully catching fish. Fishing your streamer slow along the edges seemed to be the most productive way to move fish. Get out this upcoming weekend to fool some Gunpowder brown trout.
-Josh Reider

Gunpowder Brown Trout

2015 Gunpowder RIVERKEEPER® Year End Wrap-UP!


Thank you for supporting our efforts to protect the Gunpowder River! We champion enforcement and compliance of environmental laws within the watershed to protect and conserve the River for all users.

We believe that the proper public notice of state permits is apolitical. Everyone that recreates, lives along or is downstream of the River enjoys the benefits of high water quality and deserves an opportunity to be engaged in the regulatory process. Meaningful public participation results in better projects-those that are protective of drinking water, property interests, sensitive species, recreational and aesthetic values.

Our work links and protects the forests, the fish and the faucet. Ours work is a shared waters perspective that is pro-active and respective of the varied economic, recreational and biological aspects of the River. The Gunpowder supports varied recreational interests, habitat for native and wild trout, drinking water for 1.5 million Baltimore-Metro Area residents and important tidal habitat for Rockfish, Perch and crabs.


We are faced with environmental threats that must be argued in a legal context. The organization works collaboratively and proactively to find solutions to pollution problems. We are effectively using legal action but only after exhausting all other methods to represent member’s interests in protecting the Gunpowder River and its watershed from sources of pollution.

The Baltimore Circuit Court decision halted the 190 Million dollar pipeline project that impacts 81 waterways and the main stem of the Gunpowder River. The court sent the permit back to the agency and required the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to provide for another public notice period to make sure that residents had an opportunity to voice their opinions and concerns about the project.

Soon thereafter, we won two related legal challenges in the Circuit Court and Court of Special Appeals that the pipeline company filed to “stay” the original decision so the project could proceed. Our dedicated expert pro-bono legal staff is now preparing for oral arguments on the revised MDE permit. The new permit still fails to require monitoring of water quality prior to, during the disruptive construction phase and after the construction is completed to make sure that wetlands, seep, spring and streams have not been adversely impacted by the project.


Advocacy: Riverkeeper has advocated for quantitative monitoring at waterway crossings along the project so the frequency, duration and intensity of any pollution impacts to these resources can be assessed in real-time. Without monitoring the Maryland Department of the Environment cannot provide meaningful compliance and enforcement of state and federal water laws along the 81 waterways impacted by the 305.7 acre, 21.1 mile construction corridor in Harford and Baltimore counties, Maryland.

Outreach: We sponsored an Eagle Scout project that installed regulatory signs along the 7.2 mile Catch and Release section of the Gunpowder River. Volunteers helped with stream cleanups and maintained the 14 wader wash stations to prevent the spread of the invasive algae Didymo.


News: “A Baltimore County Circuit Court judge has ordered the Maryland Department of the Environment to revise a permit it issued for a 21-mile natural gas pipeline that would run into Harford County. Judge Justin J. King ruled last week it was “impossible” for him to determine whether the permit complies with water quality regulations because it lacks specifics and that MDE did not give enough time for public notice and comment.” ~ Baltimore Co. judge rejects MDE permit for proposed natural gas pipeline by Danny Jacobs, Daily Record, May 4, 2015

“The court ruled that the Gunpowder Riverkeeper did have standing to mount the challenge because of the group’s role as an advocate for clean water… Le Gardeur was gratified by the judge’s 49-page decision. “It is a compelling decision. And the reason is that the permit is tied to water-quality standards,” Le Gardeur said. “I always thought I’d be able to tell MDE and Columbia that they were moving too quickly. Lord knows I tried. Part of what Riverkeepers do is get people to meetings. But it wasn’t easy for me to do because the people didn’t have enough notice to get ahead of this issue.” Although the proposed pipeline route would cross 81 streams, and half of them feed a drinking water reservoir for Baltimore City and County, the MDE only required monitoring on one of them, a Tier II waterway… Le Gardeur has noted since the beginning that all of the agency’s communications have focused on trout and aquatic resources and not emphasized that much of Baltimore County’s drinking water comes from these streams, which feed the Loch Raven Reservoir. If people knew drinking water could be harmed, he said, they would be much more likely to show up to meetings and become informed. Le Gardeur said his goal was never to stop the project; he just wanted to make sure the permit was as protective of water resources as it could be. Merryman said it’s too late for her, but she hopes the victory will help other landowners.“Theaux is tenacious,” she said. “It’s not easy to go up against these guys, but he did it.” ~ Ruling halts Gunpowder pipeline construction, Public was not given enough notice to comment, and the review did not consider historic properties or less destructive options by Rona Kobell, Bay Journal, June 01, 2015


“ The ruling issued late last week was hailed by environmentalists, who said regulators glossed over how the pipeline would affect the 81 rivers and streams it’s expected to traverse, many of them sources of the Baltimore region’s drinking water and some havens for pollution-sensitive trout.” It will eventually have MDE and Columbia go back through and make this permit more protective of the waterway resources we’re advocating for,” said Theaux M. Le Gardeur, the Gunpowder Riverkeeper and one of the project opponents who took the case to court. “I can’t really tell folks where the pipeline should go, but if they do put it in, they should put it in in the right way.”…To date, the pipeline has been laid from Fallston to the eastern edge of Oregon Ridge Park near Shawan and Beaver Dam roads, LeGardeur said, with one of the most pristine streams in the state next to be crossed. Advocates for the 1,000-acre county park had complained that the pipeline will destroy a swath of mature forest, disrupt wildlife and possibly degrade a popular swimming lake. Le Gardeur, the riverkeeper, acknowledged that tunneling under streams to protect water quality and fish can lead to greater disturbance of land on either side. But he contended that property owners deserved more notice of the project’s route and how it would be built, so they could weigh in on the trade-offs… ~ Court halts stream crossings by natural gas pipeline in Baltimore County by Timothy B. Wheeler, May 18, 2015

“…The permits govern how counties manage their stormwater, how they monitor and report pollutants, how they mitigate runoff flow to their streams and how they tackle trash… Gunpowder Riverkeeper and the Natural Resources Defense Council are also plaintiffs…The environmental groups said they filed the litigation as a last resort after 18 months of negotiations with the Maryland Department of the Environment in 2013 and 2014…the groups wanted permits that addressed specific issues in the various jurisdictions, a robust monitoring program, enforcement and penalties for noncompliance…Plaintiffs call permits too weak, and argue that public wasn’t given enough notice to offer feedback.” ~MD court to hear appeals over stormwater permits for Baltimore, 4 counties, Plaintiffs call permits too weak, argue that public wasn’t given enough notice to offer feedback…By Rona Kobell, Bay Journal, November 02, 2015


Water touches all of our lives-our brains are 75% water. Clean Water in the Gunpowder watershed is everyone’s right and as a shared resource must be protected for all!

Everyone lives downstream and everyone has a right to water that is safe to swim and fish in. Cumulative impacts on sensitive trout streams throughout the watershed are irreversible.

We need your financial support to keep the River protected now and in the future. Please consider an annual donation of support or a year–end donation to amplify our outreach, advocacy and legal action.

You may donate at: or by sending a check to Gunpowder RIVERKEEPER®, P.O. BOX 156 Monkton, MD 21111.

Thank you for your support!

Theaux M. Le Gardeur

Please follow us on Twitter @GunpowderRiver or;
like us on Facebook at

GRK is a 501(c)(3) non-profit categorized by the IRS under Natural Resource Conservation. Your donation is tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.


Rain and Clear Water on the Upper Gunpowder River

Rain on the Gunpowder
The Gunpowder River is flowing at 51 Cfs and is 50 degrees. The water is clear and a fish were taking small dries over the weekend including a mix of BWO’s and cream midges. Stoneflies were fluttering in the riffles along the banks.

Please Note:
The shop will be closed on Tuesday, December 15.
The shop will be closed on Wednesday December 16.

The shop will be open till 2:00 PM on Christmas Eve.
The shop will be closed on Friday, December 25.

The shop will be closed on Friday, January 1.
The shop will be open till 2:00 PM on New Year’s Eve.

Backwater Angler Holiday Top Ten List

What if?

What if you got another tie this year? We’ve provided some quick guidance on some of the most sought after gifts-including one of clean, cold water as a gentle reminder that if someone will be shopping for you it is always in your best interest to give them a substantive hint.

Top ten list

1. Clean, Cold Water via a charitable contribution to Gunpowder RIVERKEEPER
2. Winston WT or LT Fly Rods
3. Simms Cold Weather Shirt
4. St. Croix Avid Fly Rods
5. Airflo Super-Dri Fly Lines
6. Simms Vapor Streamtread Boots
7. Gift Certificate for gear
8. A new fly box chock full of Flies
9. Simms G3 Waders
10. Gift Certificate for a Fly Casting Lesson, Fly Fishing School or Guide Trip

Rain and Warmer Water on the Gunpowder River

Gunpowder River at Bush Cabin Run

Rain on the Gunpowder River is welcome this time of year. The River is flowing at 64 Cfs is 50.5 F and is clear above most of the tributaries throughout the Hereford Area of Gunpowder State Park. Large stonefly nymphs followed by a zebra dropper have resulted in a few fish this week. Streamer fishing is still productive by late afternoon. This downed Sycamore has new suckers along the trunk and base that show it still has some life left. Woody debris left along banks provide greater habitat and protect the banks from erosion. Note the color change in the River as water slows down along the deadfall. Please limit your wading this time of year to protect spawning habitat for wild browns and native brookies!

Related Post:
Watch Your Step on the Gunpowder

Downed Sycamore on the Gunpowder

Thanksgiving Stream Report

Gunpowder River BrownThe Gunpowder River is clear, flowing at 52 CFs and is 51 F. The River is about 10 degrees warmer than it is on average this time of year so expect to find some fish ready to pounce on streamers over the holiday weekend. Start with a 9ft 5x leader and add a bit of 6x.Large stonefly nymphs followed by a zebra midge is a great way to cover pocket water. Light-Brite zonkers and sculpins should be drifted through the pools and soft-hackles have been working fine in the riffles. Remember that spending time with friends and family on the River can’t be beat! –Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Be sure to stop in to check out some great “in-store only” sales on select clothing, rods, reels, lines, and wading boots starting this Friday through Sunday.

Store Hours for Thanksgiving Week:

Monday 10 till 5
Tuesday Closed
Wednesday Closed
Thursday Closed
Friday 10 till 5
Saturday 10 till 4
Sunday 10 till 4