Spring is not quite here folks but the calendar does not lie
The shop will be closed from Monday February 3rd through Friday February 7.
Until then knock the dust off your gear, check your flylines and get a good list of what you’ll need when this weather breaks-We’ll be happy to assist you when we reopen on Saturday the 8th and Sunday the 9th from 10AM till 4PM and will resume regular hours the week of the 10th. February is Backwater Angler’s 13th year on the Gunpowder-all told (including Wally Vait’s On the Fly) this little fly fishing shop has been around about 23 years serving some fine folks that have fished more storied waters than I’ll ever remember.This season we’ve brought in more quality gear from Umpqua, lots of custom flies from Catskill based tier Mike Bachkosky and fine fly rods from R. L. Winston, G. Loomis, Scott and St. Croix rods. Over the holidays we purchased a vintage display case from Cooks limited antiques-Thanks Dixie!- and now it is full of high quality U.S. made reels from Abel, Bauer and Lamson. As part of our upcoming anniversary we’re inviting everyone to a gathering on the 23rd of February from 10 till 2 PM. Until then-dust off that old fishing log and send us your best SHORT fishing story (500 words) relating experience on the Gunpowder-it probably won’t hurt to reference the shop or staff in the telling. Send it along to email@example.com .We’ll be featuring our favorites during a reading that afternoon and, if space allows we’ll put’em right on the website. Everyone will receive our undying gratitude and the top three wordsmiths will get a fresh Backwater Angler hat for their trouble…
Thanks to Josh Reider for the photos and gear review of his lucky Patagonia River Salt Jacket. We have a ready supply of these waterproof, breathable and durable wading jackets in stock ready to ship.
After fishing today in the freezing rain I found out two things: One, fish don’t care how miserable the weather is; and two, a nice rain jacket is a must. A friend and I fished in the dismal weather for 3 hours and were able to pick up close to 10 fish; hooking nearly twice that. We landed a few nice fish and a lot in the smaller 8-12 inch range. Fishing the Gunpowder this time of year is very productive and can be a lot of fun if you’re dressed properly. We were nymphing small pheasant tails and zebra midges with the most success. I switched to a streamer later in the day and had some fish chase it but none would commit.
My Patagonia Riversalt jacket kept me dry and warm in the miserable weather. I’ve had it nearly a year now and it works just as well as when I took it out of the box. It is great length, the cuffs work and because it is longer than most wading jackets it can be worn as a normal rain jacket. I use it whenever I fish and recommend it to anyone serious about staying comfortable fly fishing in a host of conditions.
Thoughts of Abel engraved and Fish Graphic reels might just be the ticket to keeping warm this time of year. Especially if the idea of a (clockwise) Blue #3 engraved Grand Slam super 9-10N, Bonefish Super 7-8N and Tarpon Super 11-12N help to transport one’s mental state to more southerly climes. Other examples of this California handiwork are exhibited by the other Abel reels in the new display case at Backwater Angler including (clockwise) the 25th anniversary De Young Super 6N, the Tribal Fish in 7-8N and a Brown Trout Super 3N. These beautiful reels are testament that you don’t need a lot of fly reels-just the “right” ones.
I’m still fishing an original 3N in artistic blue/black camo that I bought when Backwater Angler opened in 2001. It’s helped me land Atlantic salmon, albies, rockfish, blues, bonefish and redfish and has never let me down.
The Gunpowder River is flowing at 104 Cfs and is 40 F. The Hereford Zone received between 5 and 7 inches of snow and Thursday night through Friday morning we dipped into the low single digits. The high winds made it pretty difficult for folks to get out Friday during the day but we had a surprising number of folks despite the cold weather getting out over the weekend. Most of the lots remain unplowed so York and Masemore are still the easiest to access with a car. Lots of edge ice is forming along the banks of the main stem and some of the smaller low gradient tributaries are starting to ice up. Consider giving the Falls Rd section a break. Fresh snow on the ground makes its tough to gauge where the holes are so stick to the flats until the condition of the trails improve. With rain on the way through today expect water temps to dip a bit and flow to increase as some of the snow slowly lets go. The shots in this post were taken at Masemore on Friday from the Gunpowder North Trail across from Bush Cabin Run and the Lefty Kreh Trail.
The Gunpowder River is clear and flowing at 119 and 41.5 F. A few stoneflies and Blue Winged Olives are flitting around but stream temps are still on the cold side. Fish the faster, shallow water with small nymphs starting in the #16 range and midge larvae sized #20-26. Streamers will also elicit a few takes and many more follows on a five or 10 ft sinking Airflo polyleader. Get ready for some snow along the upper river by Friday. If you bought studs for your wading shoes over the holidays now is the time to spend a few precious minutes this week putting them in-your backside will thank you!
Thanks to Josh for the stream report and photo:
Fishing the past couple days has been ice cold, but for those willing to brave the weather have found luck on the Gunpowder River. Nymphing small midge and black fly larva has proved the most successful. I have been fishing shallow as the fish that will eat are holding in water in the sun. I’ve also been staying warm by using a switch rod in the more open stretches and fishing streamers deep and slow with a sink tip. If you head out on the river for a couple hours this time of year, it won’t be hard to find serenity on many stretches of the Gunpowder!
The Gunpowder River is truly a gift of shared waters. As a 1977 Baltimore Sun article penned by Michael Wentzel and Michael Shultz once related; “The Gunpowder is the River you Drink.” So with that context in mind it’s important to relate that Baltimore County has 2,100 miles of streams a majority of which hold native brook trout and wild brown trout. Notably, over 1,000 miles of tributaries drain into the Reservoirs that providing drinking water for 1.8 million Baltimore-metro area residents.
In 2013, Gunpowder RIVERKEEPER saw the end of four commercial tubing shuttles along the upper Gunpowder River. By their own estimations the two vendors had claimed that they were renting up to 400 tubes a day each. The shuttles routinely dropped off patrons every 20 minutes in a 75 to 100 foot wide, 2.2 mile stretch of river between the catch and release section at the designated Wildlands Areas of Gunpowder State Park and the two fish a day section of stream to Monkton Station along the NCR (now Torrey Brown) trail. In the end, the county zoning ordinances failed to support the livery services that had put too much pressure on this vital resource to sustain shared uses like fishing, boating and traditional tubing by families.
As the River and its uses returned back to a more balanced state this spring, this shared waters perspective became even more revealing when Gunpowder RIVERKEEPER® began submitting environmental comments and intervening in the (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) application for the Columbia Gas Transmission (CGT) Line-MB interstate gas pipeline project.
The CGT Line-MB is a 26” diameter, 21.1 mile long Interstate Natural Gas Transmission line from Owings Mills to Rutledge impacting 305.4 acres of land and 70 waterways with a temporary 75 to 100 foot wide construction right-of-way (ROW) resulting in a permanent 50 foot ROW across the Gunpowder Watershed in Baltimore and Harford counties, Maryland.
GRK identified that 39 of 70 waterways impacted by the natural gas transmission line project are designated as drinking water supply waters (USE III-P and IV-P). The project also crosses the Gunpowder Falls River that provides drinking water for 1.8 million Baltimore-Metro area residents.
The pipeline does not define our work but has shown just how connected the wild trout and drinking water are in this fragile upper watershed. If the land agents for Columbia Gas Transmission do not strike deals with the affected landowners along the proposed route for the new right of way the properties that the line would go through may be taken in the courts through eminent domain. GRK has asked for more public participation in the regulatory process, thorough environmental review including an Environmental Impact statement and full mitigation of environmental harms to protect the sensitive waterways crossed by the project.
Please visit our Chesapeake Commons interactive map describing waterway impacts (including drinking water) of the pipeline project that were not disclosed by the MDE and the CORPS in the joint public notice.
GRK led 18 Conservation Organizations in urging the Army Corps of Engineers (CORPS) and Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to disclose waterway impacts of proposed Interstate Natural Gas Pipeline Project on Baltimore City Metro Area Drinking Water supply.
Led the St. Francis Community Center Reservoir Hill Power Project group on a streamwalk and service project along the River to discuss the sources of City drinking water and the importance of wild trout; Credited as contributing author in a Poster at the International Didymo Conference in VT; Lead a panel discussion on Invasive Algae Didymo at the Waterkeeper ALLIANCE Annual Conference at Callaway Gardens, GA.; Led service projects with over 70 local scouts and brownies that included trash cleanups along the river as part of their merit badge requirements; Led a Juniata College Alumini service project; Took part in the MDDNR Stream Waders program and sampled the River and its tributaries with 8 volunteers that collected benthic macro-inverteb=rates that will be used to inform state water quality standards; Served as a public interest member of the State Water Quality Advisory Committee; Created awareness that current management protocols of Baltimore City DPW that manage Pretty Boy Reservoir at full pool impacts the River with widespread flooding during heavy rainfall events, is counter to the Baltimore City Watershed Agreement and the Loch Raven Total Maximum Daily Load (Pollution diet) and can be prevented with proactive management that allows the reservoir to fill rather than spill during Hurricane Season; Maintained 12 MDDNR Wader Wash Stations along the Gunpowder River to contain the spread of invasive algae Didymo; Worked with Maryland Park Service staff on trail closures and clean-ups; Informed Maryland Natural Resources Police on poaching complaints; Provided regulatory comments and gave testimony before Baltimore County and the MDE on the County Municipal Stormwater (MS4) permit; and added environmental comments to UMD Law letter on MDE Construction Stormwater regulations.
GRK supported important regulatory comment letters related to pesticides; manure and fertilizer application on farm fields; MS4 (Stormwater) permits; a Department of Energy application for the Cove Point Terminal to export Liquified Natural Gas (LNG); a public interest letter regarding disposal of coal ash, and a letter to the editor of Baltimore Sun regarding the environmental impacts of the export of “Fracked” natural gas.
GRK Testimony and Letters:
“The Baltimore County MS4 Permit should be framed in the context relating that it is protective of Clean Water Act (CWA) language, not simply ‘moving towards compliance’ and namely that deadlines for implementation are absent from the draft permit…Despite the Baltimore County Sanitary Sewer Consent Decree, overflows in dry conditions in March and April attributed to vandals accounted for hundreds of thousands of gallons of raw sewage entering the Gunpowder [River] and its tributaries. These events are illegal and must be prevented.”
– GRK on Baltimore County’s Municipal Stormwater (MS4) discharge permit
“The Public notice (PN#13-21) is deficient under the Clean Water Act (CWA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) as it is neither contains sufficient facts nor is informative enough to properly engage the public to allow them to comment meaningfully in this regulatory process.”
“The Corps must make permit decisions based on consideration of property interests and the needs and welfare of the people. By not providing the public information about surface water designated uses in the public notice; namely, drinking water supply, the regulatory process is subverted and the public is excluded from commenting on substantive environmental issues raised by the project.”
“Based on these deficiencies, we believe that the Corps and MDE must re-issue an amended notice to include impacts to drinking water supply waterways and provide for an additional public meeting to properly engage the public in this regulatory process.”
–GRK on the legally deficient Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and Baltimore District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (CORPS) Joint Public Notice, PN#13-21 for the 404 (Wetland and Waterways) / 401 (State Water Quality Certification) permit for the Columbia Gas Transmission Line-MB Extension Pipeline Project.
Our projects, outreach and advocacy is strengthened by your support. Please consider a donation at our website via PAYPAL to become a supporter and further the cause of protecting the Gunpowder River for future generations. When mailing a donation please send it to: Gunpowder RIVERKEEPER, P.O. Box 156, Monkton, MD 21111
The protection of the Gunpowder River is a gift worthy of your support.
Theaux M. Le Gardeur
The calendar is marching on. Now that the in-laws have left your humble abode it’s time to pick up a 2014 MD Fishing License. The shop will be closed on the first so be sure to stop in on Monday (from 10 till 5) or Tuesday (from 10 till 2) if you’re planning on fishing on the first! Thanks for your support in 2013 and we wish everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!
Licenses after hours may be obtained online through the Compass Portal. If you picked up a license last year enter your customer id# into the system. If you don’t have it handy search for your record using your last name, date of birth and /or drivers license number. If you have not picked up a Maryland fishing license in the past, simply enroll as a new customer. Note: You must have an email address to use the system and a license will be emailed to your address upon completion of the transaction.
Open Monday Dec 30 from 10 till 5
Open Tuesday December 31 from 10 till 2
Closed Wednesday January 1
The Gunpowder River is flowing at 137 Cfs, is 42.5 F and clear. Most of the trails are frozen and the fresh snow has already left the grassy areas. It’s time to put in studs and bring along a wading staff. Stoneflies in the #14-16 range have been coming off on warmer days. Starting early-try zebra midges in the riffles. Black fly larvae in the #20-22 range are a good bet-especially behind Blue Winged Olives sized #16-18. Traditional streamers in the jams will trick a few fish along the edges. Try a Grey Ghost or small marabou muddler on 6x.
The shop will be open Christmas Eve till 2:00, will be closed Christmas Day and will reopen on the 26th from 10 till 5.
The GunpowderRiver is flowing at 90 CFs and is 44 F and clear. Now is the time to stud your wading shoes. With 6 to 8 inches of snow blanketing the Hereford Zone of Gunpowder State Park, the trails above Falls Rd are tough going. Try Masemore, Bunkerhill and York Rd in the catch and release section for easier and safer access. Be sure to bring a wading staff and an extra pair of gloves. Most are better off using the trail along the river. Watch for edge ice in the flats and move slowly out there. Consider sitting and sliding in to the River rather than taking a large step from a cut bank. Small patterns are a great way to trick fish this time of year. Midge larvae this time of year can be found in submerged leaf piles. The lower river in the 5 fish a day stretch along the NCR-now the Torrey Brown trail-is worth a look. It’s a nice way to stay warm and cover more water. While the lower river is stocked with rainbows each year, it still hosts a sustainable, wild population of brown trout
Thanks to Josh Reider for the photos and stream report.
Fishing in the winter can be a very productive time for fishing. Nymphing small pheasant tails, stonefly imitations, zebra midges, and black fly larva is the best way to target cold finicky fish. I fished the coldest day of the year yesterday, and was able to pick up 3 fish in the lower river using these tactics. Many of those willing to brave the cold will often find a quiet serene river filled with fish that have not been fished over in a couple days; as compared to fish that will be fished over multiple times a day during the spring and summer. Fighting the cold with good gloves, warm socks, and insulation is a must if you want to enjoy your time on the river during the coldest days.