The shocking survey on the Gunpowder River is pretty incredible to witness. On September 24th a team of Maryland Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Biologists shocked the Falls Rd area on Gunpowder River. A line of wader clad, net wielding biologists and volunteers pushed upstream behind biologists wearing electro-fishing backpacks. The shocking prod stunned anything within a five to six foot range with a low volt charge. The stunned trout floated to the surface where they were gently netted and placed in buckets. Trout and the occasional big sucker floated up from every little hole. The contents of the buckets were placed into tubs with meshed out bottoms to allow water to flow through. The area sampled was over a hundred feet long and was comprised of shallow riffles. During the survey, seven to ten tubs lined the shoreline each filled with 75 ten inch adult brown trout, and many smaller and young of year trout. In this video short, the trout in these tubs were anesthetized with a quick acting liquid solution that allowed the biologists to handle and release the fish with minimal injuries to the fish. Once the trout were sedated each trout was measured, weighed and looked over for hooking injuries. Many of the trout sampled did show signs of being hooked and safely released many times. After the trout recovered in a fresh water bucket, they were placed into the tubs in the river to recover and then released.
The Gunpowder has such a high density of wild trout that most anglers wouldn’t believe the results of the shocking survey, unless they saw it with their own eyes. In recent years the survey has uncovered browns over twenty inches and up to four pounds, but not this year. Although three fish in that size range were caught and documented on film by Backwater Angler Guides this Summer. Jeff Lewatowski’s big brown was caught one day after shocking surveys ended and was landed within earshot of where I video taped the survey. Big fish can make your day or even year, but the Gunpowder does not give up big fish easily. It does yield more wild trout than any river in Maryland, and its density of trout can allow skilled anglers the chance to catch dozens of feisty, beautiful trout in one outing. Once you become proficient on the river and resign yourself to catching these often acrobatic nine to twelve inch browns trip after trip, the big trout may start hunting you.