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…
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 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 shop will be open Christmas Eve till 2:00, will be closed Christmas Day and will reopen on the 26th from 10 till 5.
Please join consummate Bamboo fly rod builder and noted Author Jerry Kustich at Backwater Angler this Saturday, Nov. 30 from 10 till 2. Plan on picking up a signed copy of his new book Around the Next Bend, an Angler’s Journey. With a release date of December 1, You’ll be among the first to pick up one of Jerry’s books before they hit those larger stores. Stop in and cast some beautiful Sweetgrass Bamboo fly rods while you’re at it…
From Headwater Books:
Jerry Kustich is author of At the River’s Edge: Lessons Learned in a Life of Fly Fishing, A Wisp in the Wind: In Search of Bull Trout, Bamboo, and Beyond, and coauthor of Fly Fishing for Great Lakes Steelhead, all published by West River Publishing. His articles and essays have appeared in Fly Fisherman, Big Sky Journal, Fly Rod & Reel, and many other publications. He splits his time between Baltimore, MD, and Twin Bridges, MT. With writing that Nick Lyons has described as “quietly but fiercely independent, free from the commercialism that cloaks the fly-fishing world like a fungus” author Jerry Kustich tackles a range of subjects in his latest book, from fly-fishing contests and world records to the difficult subject of the death of loved ones. But whether writing about epic catches of memorable fish, pristine wilderness rivers, or the Booboys’ controversial departure from R. L. Winston Rod Company, for Kustich the story of loss is linked to the story of hope, and both are reflected in the water we fish.
Related Post: Jerry Kustich and Sweetgrass Rods at Backwater Angler
Please note: The shop will be closed this Friday, November 8th and will reopen on Saturday at 10:00AM.
A full Baltimore City Reservoir and a Nor’easter that brought rain to the Hereford Zone last evening through today combined to create a spillover event at Prettyboy Dam. The Gunpowder River flow rose from 75 Cfs to over 1,190 Cfs. Water temperatures also moved up sharply from 56 to 66 F. This photo taken last night shows a full Reservoir while the storm approached the area. With relatively no freeboard (or buffer) at Prettyboy Dam, and heavy localized rainfall, spillover and related severe flooding occurred throughout the Hereford Area of Gunpowder State Park impacting the riparian habitat of the Gunpowder River.
For weeks the River level has been shin deep (at 29 to 31 CFs) through the Park, making it very difficult to float the River without dragging canoes and kayaks over exposed gravel bars. The USGS Hydrograph (read from left to right) illustrates River levels in cubic feet a second (Cfs) at close to median flows (in line with the triangles), low flows (below the triangles), and finally spillover and flooding.
That Baltimore City DPW manages Gunpowder River levels to maintain a full Prettyboy Reservoir during Hurricane Season is troubling. This practice has led to significant flood events in the fall of each of the past three years. (Please see related posts below). Impacts of flooding are at odds with both the Baltimore City Watershed Agreement that promotes “existing environmental, wildlife-habitat, and aesthetic purposes, as well as beneficial recreational uses” and the Loch Raven TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) which was established to “achieve and maintain water quality standards including designated uses” and protects the downstream drinking water supply reservoir from sediment and phosphorus pollution.
As with Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee and Hurricane Sandy, spillover from this Nor’easter is undercutting and de-stablizing river banks, accelerating erosion and reducing the capacity of Loch Raven Reservoir. These flood events are detriment to the river, its biological communities, recreational users and potentially to the residents of the Baltimore City Metro Area which depend on the Gunpowder River for their daily drinking water needs. Interested in this matter? Please contact us via email
I met Jerry K. in 1997 when I started working at the R. L. Winston Rod Co. as the Eastern Sales Rep. At the time I had a gas card, a small pickup with a topper and a U.S. map with a line roughly drawn down the middle from Minnesota to Louisiana that included all points east from Maine to the Keys. Traveling 28 states back then was always an adventure and the dealers always took great care of me. Visiting with Jerry, Glenn, and Jeff in the old airplane hangar that served as the boo shop was always a treat. One afternoon Jerry invited me to join him for an evening fishing craneflies patterns on the Beaverhead. On the drive, Jerry asked me how someone from Louisiana grew up fishing and guiding for trout in the Appalachian Mountains of Western North Carolina. About 6 months later I received my first bamboo rod from the boo boys signed by Jerry and built with pocket water, Cahills and long leaders in mind. The rod has always allowed me to show the art of the old guard to those interested in the beauty and craft that bamboo brings to the sport. Last year Jerry K. made a pilgrimage to the Gunpowder and ran into the likes of Jack (right) and Dave (left)–true Gunpowder regulars that appreciate bamboo and a good story.
Please join us at Backwater Angler from 11:00 AM till 2:00 PM next Saturday the 24th of August. Jerry will be stopping in to talk about bamboo and you’ll have an opportunity to cast some beautiful Sweetgrass bamboo fly rods. Please RSVP at 410-357-9557.
Thanks to Sweetgrass for the use of the following bio of Jerry: Sweetgrass Rods website:
Jerry Kustich has been a part of the “Boo Boy” team for the past twenty years learning the many intricacies of rod building. Always found on a stream testing anything from flies to waders to pentagonal bamboo designs, he has become an outspoken advocate for public access to Montana’s rivers. Author, writer, devoted environmentalist, rod designer, and dedicated angler, he spends much time on the road as a fly fishing ambassador lecturing on and representing the ideals for which all serious fly anglers stand.
The Gunpowder River is flowing at 110 Cfs, is 55 degrees and clear. Bwo’s, Tricos and Caddis are all part of the mix now that the water has reached the mid 50′s. As the following report indicates, insect and fish activity is closely linked to water temperature.Thanks to Gary for the stream report from August 10
Fished the upper section of the river on Saturday 8/10 and had some ‘maddening’ fun with the tricos. It still amazes me how the fish can see those things but I took a lot of hits and landed quite a few fish using a reverse hackle pattern. At about 6:30 pm the water looked like a missle launch site with fish coming out of the water up and down the river. Earlier in the day I started with a #16 dry tan caddis and landed two fish but it stopped producing which surprised me because I caught a fish on the very first cast of the day. I switched to a grey ghost but unfortunately I lost it when a good size fish took a hard swipe and broke the line. That’s when I switched to the trico. I fished a long leader at around 14 feet but didn’t go down to 8x. There was some nice mist hanging over the water and that appeared to keep the fish from spooking and in an active feeding mode.
All in all another great day fishing the GP.