The heat this week is approaching triple digits, but the Gunpowder River is still well below the threshold where trout become stressed by warm water. The upper reaches are still below 50 degrees in the morning, and may climb into the sixties in the mid to lower accesses of the catch and release sections. Areas below Bluemount Rd are likely to be too warm for fishing, so consider taking a water temp before fishing. Generally the trout become less active once the water gets into the 68-70 degree range, so fishing farther up river will be far more productive, and less stressful on the trout. The cooler water temps along the Gunpowder really drop the ambient air temps, and the rolling fog and a slight breeze act as air conditioning. In weather like this when yard work is a miserable chore, fishing can still be a way to cool off, and get out of the house.
I fished quite often over the past weeks in fluctuating flows, before taking a non fishing hiatus to the beach. I returned to low water, and decided to dust off a smaller 7 foot 3 weight fiber glass rod. I knew of a few good riffles holding lots of trout, and fished a small caddis dry on a long leader. Fish were taking caddis sporadically, but would hammer the fly on the first drift. In one run I rose ten fish without moving a step, landing five browns. The 8-11 inch fish really put a bend in the fiberglass rod. The most productive areas were the faster runs and riffles where the trout wouldn’t spook as easily. In the flatter, shallow sections I watched as trout spooked from as far as sixty feet away. In some cases I watched fish dart for cover before my boots got wet. Avoiding these areas and focusing on the deeper areas will result in better fishing. In the lower flows it can be feast or famine in terms of catching trout, but in some areas it can be quite productive. On a different day I spent an hour fishing where a lot of smaller trout hold, armed my six foot one weight Scott Fiber Touch rod. The rod and smooth drag on the reel was a blast on the 6-10 inch trout. I only saw one other angler between the two days on the water. Despite the low flows and excessive heat, the river is fishing well. The latest video post features some wild browns I caught on fiberglass rods.
The Gunpowder River flow climbed into the 600 CFs range over the weekend. A release was made to stop the hot spillover, which began after a thunder storm produced heavy rains. The water temp rose into the low seventies, but quickly dropped when the valve was opened. Flows are now back to a normal 103 CFs, and a chilly 50 degrees. Sulphurs and caddis are still bringing fish to the surface, and small nymphs will work when the hatch slows. A black Zonker worked well for me on the Gunpowder, as the flow dropped yesterday evening. A few days ago I decided to try my luck on a small stream, and happened onto some decent sized brook trout. Hiking a few miles away it switched over to primarily smallmouth and largemouth bass. The fish were smaller in this stream, but still eager to hit a good sized streamer. I covered a lot of ground and the water was surprisingly cold despite hundred degree days earlier in the week. The bass were fun for a while, but I relocated to still water with a lot of carp, which were quite a challenge. In the clear water the fish were ultra selective about taking my nymph, but I finally connected with a small one. The Scott G2 four weight got quite a bend in it, as this fish refused to budge. Numerous carp pushing ten pounds had me rethinking my plans, since a three pounder was tough to turn on such a light rod.
The day took an interesting turn when I was leaving for home. I bushwhacked through some brush toward the gurgle of falling water. A small water fall made by this tiny stream was the only give away it existed, since the flowing stream emptied into swampy marsh. I walked up a few hundred feet, and after feeling the cool breeze coming off the water, took a water temp in the high fifties. The stream shielded from the heat by the canopy of the trees, and obviously fed by cold water, looked perfect for brook trout. I dapped the streamer in a bathtub size pool. A few small shapes darted out from under the rock for the big fly. A switch to a small pheasant tail quickly produced a brook trout. I didn’t have my small stream rod, but the 9 foot rod allowed me to hang back, and dap nymphs in each sink to bathtub sized pool. Twenty five minutes later and my total landed was 9 small brook trout. These native trout had vivid markings, and the unbridled aggression of trout living in such small waters. The thick ferns, heavy shade and damp environment created a micro climate that dropped the air temp a few degrees. Each bend in the stream lured me to explore farther and farther up this creek. Once the water shrank and divided, I knew it was time to turn around. The latest video post features an interesting day, which started and ended with native brook trout, and a mix of bass, browns and carp.
There are many warm water fishing options in Central Maryland during the Summer months. Anglers can fish large reservoirs, ponds, rivers and even small streams across the state. Once June arrives I start to spend a day or two a week exploring numerous warm water hotspots. I went over to Loch Raven Reservoir last week armed with my 1 weight Scott fiber glass rod. I quickly located a fallen tree swarming with crappies. My camera was dead, so it was just an hour of catching and releasing a few dozen “paper mouths.” A few days later I returned to the area to find the fish were either pulled out, or they moved into deeper water. A long hike into a remote area lead to a fallen tree loaded with good sized blue gills. The small rod got quite a workout, and the fish were taking damsel fly nymphs. The casts were short, but stripping the fly amongst the submerged branches was the hard part. There was a few large mouth between 2-4 pounds cruising the shallows, but I never bothered to cast to them with such a small rod. The next day I targeted carp in a wide river, where the big fish cruise the shallows. The water was very stained after recent rains, so it was really tough to get the carp to notice the fly. I hooked six fish, broke one off, landed two and lost the others on the take. The Summer ahead should provide many good days chasing these often wary, but big fish.
A few days ago I decided to try an interesting small stream I never fished. I marked this stream on my car’s GPS last year while running errands. I hoped to find wild browns in the small creek. I walked down to the first pool and rigged up a small bugger on the one weight. The water was clear and dark shapes holding on the bottom moved slightly. I made a cast and immediately coaxed a fish to rise off the bottom. The fish slammed the fly. I was surprised by the fight, and also to reel in a chunky eleven inch smallmouth. I moved to higher ground to get a better view of the pool. A dozen smallmouth, between ten and seventeen inches, shared the deep pool with sunfish and suckers. A quick switch to my Scott G2 9 foot 4 weight, and I returned to the pool better prepared. I hooked the two biggest bass in the pool, but only landed a few ten to twelve inch bass. The rest of the day was spent stalking the shallow pools, spotting fish and exploring new water. I even filmed while fishing, and managed to get a few aggressive takes on camera. A large white Zonker on 4X was the only fly I fished the whole day. The section held a lot of bass and my tally neared twenty bass landed, and many others spooked or missed. I landed a few 14-15 inch bass, and only a couple under ten inches. A few larger small mouth bass pushing three to four pounds are sure to require a return trip. The latest video post features a mash up of three different warm water outings.
I’ve watched the USGS gauge fluctuate on the Savage River all Spring, and finally found a window to go fishing. I was on the water at noon on Tuesday, as the Savage dropped from the 250 CFs range. The higher water makes for some great fishing, especially throwing dries in the pockets. I arrived, rigged up a sixteen foot 5X leader, and tied on a size 12 snow shoe march brown. I started in a rough water area, fishing the small pockets behind boulders, and where the soft seams meet the fast water. The trout were looking up, and I rose quite a few, but landed 6 fish by dinnertime. I took a quick break, and rigged a streamer on another rod. Two deep pools looked like good places for big fish, so I worked them thoroughly with a sink tip. The first pool didn’t give up a strike, but the second pool left me walking away defeated. Twenty minutes without a strike caused my attention to wane, until something pulled the line from my hand between strips and started taking line off the reel. I didn’t feel a strike, just instant fish running drag. The chase was on as the rod bucked violently. I adjusted the drag, kept pressure on the fish and much head shaking ensued. The strength, weight and bend in my rod made me realize this was likely the biggest trout I’ve ever hooked in the Savage. I felt the trout dive to the bottom, and one more head shake was one too many. The only thing worse than losing a big trout is not even getting a glimpse. I went back to fishing dries, and ended the day with 9 fish in the net. March browns, caddis and a few sulphurs hatched in small numbers, but I never saw any rises until dark.
Wednesday I took two rods down to a middle section of river that gives up some nice fish. I went through with dries, and than with nymphs, but only picked off two decent browns. I moved back up to the upper sections, and fished the same dry fly all day. I covered a lot of ground, and caught the triple combo; brookie, brown and rainbow trout. I had two 15 inch browns all the way to the net, and just popped them off. I moved down to a flat before dark, and had an encounter with the smallest fawn I have ever seen. It made a run toward the river, and I set my rod down to take a picture. I moved down river, and the deer doubled back. It ran clumsily right at my rod, but stopped a foot short of trampling it. I snapped a pic of this tiny deer, which was only as tall as the first stripping guide. I didn’t see any risers in the flat, and moved into choppy water. Before it got totally dark a few hendricksons, march browns and sulphurs hovered over the river. I left the water with 9 fish landed, quite a few misses and break-offs. On Thursday I hiked up through one of the lowest sections of river. I wanted to nymph, and quickly caught a half dozen bows on a size 14 pheasant tail. I picked up a couple of nice browns and brookies on a larger rubber legged nymph. In the afternoon I went back to dries, but since the levels had dropped 100 CFs, the fish were not nearly as aggressive. The fishing was still very good, and my total landed hit 14 fish. Plans to wait out the last evening for a spinnerfall were abandoned after thunderstorms chased me off the water. I slept in late and hit the road on Friday. The latest video post features some river shots, insects and some trout I caught on the Savage.
Clouds of mayflies weren’t the only clouds hovering over the river this week. Heavy rain the past few days caused the Gunpowder to hit nearly 600 CFs, and steadily rising as a light rain falls in Monkton today. Current USGS reading at Falls Road today is 596 CFs, and climbing straight up. A good possibility of thunderstorms later today and tomorrow means anglers should check the gauge before the weekend. 100-300 CFs is wadeable, although anglers should be cautious on the higher end of that range. 300-400+ CFs has limited wading options, but fishing is still possible from the banks or shallows of wide flats. Flows over 500+CFs can be very difficult to fish, although a few sections still allow fishing streamers from the bank. Before all this rain the Gunpowder had dropped down to just over 100 CFs, and water temps in the low sixties. The fishing really turned on these past few weeks. The sulphur hatch is three weeks in and going strong. We ran many guided trips the past two weeks, and hit some great hatches in the evenings. The sulphurs start hatching in the morning and again between 3-6 pm. Swinging nymphs or fishing an indicator rig will catch fish through the middle of the day.
Fishing snow shoe pheasant tails to the browns slashing at emerging sulphurs will entice the aggressive trout. Traditional dun patterns will get strikes fished blind in riffles and pocket water. The hatch fishing over rising trout in the late evening is pretty exciting. I encountered a few heavy spinnerfalls, where the bugs numbered well into the hundreds, if not thousands. On two evenings there were “too many” bugs, a situation where the trout became tough to catch with all the naturals floating past. I was guiding, so I didn’t have my camera to film the hatch. One evening I finally did film a big cloud of spinners, as they returned to the water. Unfortunately, my camera does not focus very well on tiny objects flying through the air, nor does it do well in low light conditions. When I got home the footage was far less clear than witnessed first hand, but even in the slightly grainy shot, it is obvious there are a lot of mayflies in the air. The latest video post shows why staying late on the water can be worth the hike out in the dark.
The Gunpowder has dropped from late April high flows and leveled out from 600 CFs down to 140 CFs. Flow from Prettyboy Dam is still a combination of spillover and bottom release, so water temps are fluctuating from the high fifties to low sixties. The warmer water has spurred on hatches of numerous mayflies and caddis. The caddis hatch is best in the morning to midday, and again just before dark. The trout will take dries, but swinging or nymphing pupa patterns has been extremely effective. Sulphurs are now hatching steady each afternoon and I hit three spinnerfalls this week. The emergence of the size 14 duns in the afternoon brings splashy rises, so anglers can find trout feeding on top. The most effective way to catch fish is to swing nymph tandem rigs through the riffles. A number of first time anglers on four hour guide trips landed between six to ten trout, which was usually a third or quarter of the total number of strikes/hook ups. Slowly lifting the rod at the end of the swing will produce strikes, so leaving the flies hang for a few seconds is a good idea. Nymphing is also a sure way to catch fish during the sulphur emergence, and will likely lead to fish slightly larger than those taking dries. I spent a few hours midweek nymphing on the Gunpowder when I ran into Jeff Lewatowski (BWA guide). Jeff was having a lot of success on streamers, so it seems the fish are taking all types of flies. We moved to a section of riffles and I caught browns and one brookie swinging nymphs. Jeff stayed close to shore and waited out the trout, slowly picking off the risers taking duns. We both fished an area roughly 100 feet long, but it produced ten fish for each of us over an hour. We saw sulphurs, caddis and hendrickson spinners flitting above the water at dark. We started hearing the sound of fish splashing loudly as they ate spinners. The window of aggressively rising trout may be brief, but well worth it for anglers who wait out the last forty five minutes of daylight. I fished another evening in a different section and saw a much heavier hatch of sulphurs emerging. The browns were leaping out the water for the duns, but in the higher water I was catching trout on pheasant tails. At dark I watched as egg layers returned to the water, as smaller sulphurs emerged simultaneously. I switched to a small sulphur dun, and fished through a few riffles of rising trout. It was good to see so many bugs, catch trout on dries, and to return to an empty parking lot. Many anglers tend to gravitate to the upper sections, but there can be great fishing and few anglers at other access points. The photo below pretty much sums up that the the best dry fly action is at dark. The latest video post features some really high water a few weeks back, sulphurs and caddis, and a few pretty browns I caught.
Heavy rain the past few weeks has kept the Gunpowder at higher flows, but fishable compared to other rivers in the Mid Atlantic. Last week anglers from Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, and New Jersey journeyed to the Gunpowder, since many rivers in those states were blown out. In a “spillover Spring” the frequent rain storms will raise flows on the Gunpowder, but the river remains clear. The higher water last week was producing results for anglers using big streamers, but I could only get chases from a few bruisers I’ve been targeting. This week flows leveled out at 137 CFs, and water temps have risen to 60 degrees. The hot air temperatures and warm spillover have certainly raised water temps, and jumpstarted numerous hatches. A variety of mayflies can be seen hatching on the river during the day, and returning to the water at dusk. Hendricksons, quill gordons, march browns, and the occasional sulphur can be seen through late afternoon. The numbers may vary from a few bugs to a few dozen over a couple of hours. Many anglers reported that the trout were taking dries readily, even though there were only a few dozen bugs hatching. The afternoon emergence is prime time to search with dries, but for steady risers the action is at dusk. Stay late to catch the mayflies returning to the water, which may not happen until after 7:15 pm. The window may be brief, but the fish are often very aggressive. I fished the river yesterday, and spotted a half dozen sulphur duns fly off the water at 5 pm. The majority of mayflies I saw were hendricksons, and I caught ten in my hat, which was about a quarter of the duns I saw fly by me. When the duns flitted on the water too long before take off, the trout were hitting them. Nymphing or swinging wets is still a very effective way to catch fish. I spent some time turning over rocks, and found a lot of smaller mayfly nymphs in a size 16-20. The body color on these nymphs ranges from light tan to black. I also found larger size 14-16 nymphs, in addition to lots of caddis worms. The caddis worms ranged in color from a cream color to a chartreuse green. The trout were really hammering the caddis worm pattern I was using despite all the mayfly nymphs on the rocks. A few caddis were hatching alongside small craneflies and midges. Now that there are numerous insects hatching, the trout may be keying into certain insects at different times of the day. In this video post I turn over some rocks, film some mayflies, and release some feisty Gunpowder browns.
The Gunpowder dropped close to 100 CFs last week. The river gradually leveled out after the big surge of water on the 11th. Heavy rains last night bumped river flows up to 165 CFs. The Spring rains should provide good flows the next few months, since the river levels will fluctuate with rain and spillover. The City notified the shop they recently made a gate change to the 10 foot level at Prettyboy, and the temperature graph on the USGS shows a spike up to just over 48 degrees. Angler reports from last weekend of slightly off color water was likely the result of the reservoir thermocline “turning over.” The water cleared early this week, and I witnessed increased hatches of midges and blackflies. The days when the air temperature hit the sixties I saw stoneflies hatching in more numbers each day. One afternoon I watched a few dozen drop out of the hemlocks onto the water. The occasional splashy rise could be seen, but the rises to stoneflies were sporadic. The midges and black flies were what the steady feeders wanted on the surface. The black flies are more plump in the body than typical midges, so the fish were very selective. I found a few pods of risers working the surface over two hours and caught some browns, and missed quite a few others. The rest of the fish I caught using tiny larva patterns we have in the shop. The extended weather forecast shows a slight drop in temps over the weekend, but next week rain and highs in the fifties. Water temps approaching fifty and fluctuating flows should make for ideal fishing conditions in the coming weeks. In the latest video post I filmed some blackflies, a few browns, and nice sized rainbow I caught.
The Rio Puelo is a unique color of turquoise. The volume and surge of the river is impressive, especially during the boat runs up river. The amount of water to fish was overwhelming, so we used the boat to reach the best riffles. The gusting wind and the biting Tabanos created a challenging fishing scenario. We discovered while we were protecting ourselves from the Tabanos, and knocking them into the water, fish would occasionally eat them. A splashy rise would erupt in the steady stream of Tabanos floating down river. The hard part was locating a trout willing to rise more than a few times, and we found very few of those fish. Max did catch a brown on a big foam dry in a side channel to start the day. I was fishing nymphs under an indicator on my Sage TCX 11’9” 7 weight switch rod. I quickly hooked and lost a decent bow on a rubber legged nymph. I began cycling through flies and working the same drift. Big trout were known to hold on the inside edges (inches deep) of the shallows. I was still surprised when a big fish rolled in shin deep water with my nymph in its mouth. I started to chase the fish downriver, as the big rainbow jumped in front of Alex and Pipo. I watched as the backing started to go through the guides, and the fish took me into the main river current. Moments later I felt the line go slack, and checked to find both flies still there. At the time I shrugged off losing the 20 inch plus fish, but the rest of the day I only hooked one small fish.
The river was huge, but the three of us drifted different flies through the best looking water. It always felt like a fish was just another cast, or fly change away. We fished big nymphs on heavy tippet, small midges on light tippet, and all variety of weighted caddis patterns. We abandoned one technique for another when nothing produced. I quickly switched to streamers, while Max and Alex tried dry/dropper rigs. We even got dropped off at an impasse for the boat, and hiked up river to a hard to reach section. I took a gamble and decided to stick with streamer fishing until dark. I changed spools to a sinking tip line for the deep holes, and used the floating line in the shallow riffles. In a few hours of swinging flies I had one hard grab, a large fish flash in the shallows, and a big brown chase the streamer to the rod tip. I tried Zonkers of all variety, color and size. A size 4 white Polar Zonker produced the best results, and closely matched the Chinook Salmon smolts in the river. Alex snapped us out of our funk when he hooked into a big rainbow. I filmed while Max chased the rainbow down with the net. This fish reawakened our urge to keep fishing, and set off a chain reaction. I had fished a streamer all day in the hopes of catching an early Chinook Salmon, but that honor was bestowed on Max. I heard him yelling down stream of me and Alex grabbed his net. I just switched back to nymphs, and a huge rainbow nosed my indicator twice, so I wasn’t moving. I eventually started filming when I noticed the bend in his seven weight. The fish was within twenty feet of the me, and easily over thirty inches. The fish took a tan Zonker on 15 pound tippet. The latest video post features fly fishing on the Rio Puelo, Chile.
The last three days of our fishing journey in Chile put us on the road to the Rio Puelo. We had to go back into the city, load up the big boat, and restock on groceries. The four hour plus drive was pretty long, but the scenery was hard to beat. We passed over rivers and streams constantly, and Mount Osorno grew from a distant white capped volcano, to a looming giant. The pavement turned to dirt roads. Huge mountains with sharp peaks stood tall against the sky, as we drove along massive estuaries and lakes. Some of the rivers entering these estuaries, including the Puelo, experienced runs of Chinook Salmon, Atlantic Salmon, steelhead and sea run browns. The Chinooks were just starting to run, but it was early, so we were targeting the resident browns and rainbows in the river.
The drive was going smoothly, until we blew a tire on the trailer. We got the bolts loosened up, just as a local pulled off to help speed up the process. We hurried to the boat ramp, and began loading the boat with all our gear and groceries. The sun was setting, and Pipo navigated up the maze of logs and rocks in this massive river. Fortunately, he had an intimate knowledge of the river, and got us to the camping spot. We unloaded the boat and started a big fire. I set up my accommodations in the sand. The whole day was spent traveling, but we had the river right outside our tent flaps for the next two. The fire roared bright as we prepped a simple dinner, with the rush of water as background noise. We even heard a few big kings crash on the surface in the deep pool in front of the beach. We found some great wood for bench seats, and even a tying table. We ate a late dinner and discussed the plans for the following day. The latest video post is traveling to the Rio Puelo.