Monthly Archives: August 2007

Copperheads in Gunpowder State Park

I carry a camera everyday on the water for when those elusive hatches begin or that lunker trout appears on the line. Sometimes the unexpected things I capture on video are far more interesting than fish or bugs. Recently I noticed some young park users playing awfully close to these sunning copperheads, (the picture below is of a surprised Northern Black Racer) near the river’s edge. When I began shooting this video, their parents started hovering around to see what the fuss was about.

A few moments earlier, the adults had walked within steps of the snakes without noticing them. The snakes coloration was reminiscent of autumn, allowing them to blend in well their surroundings. Even with all the commotion the snakes held their ground, unafraid, which was a sign that we should be. You can never tell what you may encounter in the truly wild place that is the Gunpowder Falls State Park, Hereford Maryland. Watch your step out there and if you have never seen one of these beautiful snakes up close, enjoy.

On August 25, The following was added:

Thanks to Mark Z. for correctly identifying the snake pictured above as a black rat snake.

Big Trout Feeding in the Gunpowder River with Great Water Levels for Fly Fishing

This is the time to fish the Gunpowder using nymph and streamer rigs for those hard to catch larger fish. Another reason to fish the Gunpowder is it has more flow than many regional streams and rivers. We are very lucky to be on a river that is used to send water from one storage reservoir to another, and to have the greatest human demand when the fish’s need for water is also greatest. Anglers have been seeing higher, cooler flows at the beginning of August on the Gunpowder River, near Baltimore, Maryland than anywhere in the region.The Gunpowder has nearly as much flow as the North Branch of the Potomac at Barnum.On August 6, The North Branch of the Potomac at Barnum was at 155 Cfs, the Savage at 55 Cfs and the Gunpowder was at 158 Cfs. The water is moving fast on the Gunpowder and fish are on the feed subsurface and on top.

Gunpowder River Guide Trip Brown Trout

In a few pools I noticed very large fish, which you rarely see, feeding on drifting nymphs. Many 12 to 17 inch fish have been on the feed and I caught two fish over 16 inches in the same day. I recently caught and released my second largest Gunpowder brown measuring nineteen inches and estimated to be over two pounds.

Check out the video titled;
Monster Brown Trout on the Gunpowder River with a Sage Z-Axis 1005-4.

I was stripping a Zonker through the base of a riffle moments after a group of tubers had just passed when this dark shape lunged for the fly. The trout missed the fly and struck again, and again, but never touched the fly. The Zonker swung out below me and I let it hang mid-current. The angry trout finally engulfed the fly and he put a heavy bend in a demo Sage Z-Axis 10 foot 5 weight rod. He fought hard, bull dogging deep along the banks and as much as people talk about the fun of fighting big fish, I’ll be honest, I wanted it to be over quickly; with him in the net. The opportunity to net him arose very early while he tried to pass me and take off downstream. The stout rod put the brakes on him, alloed me to lift his head quickly and the longer length of the rod helped me swing him into net range. The 5X tippet held on this truly epic trout.

Tricos have been hatching in the morning around Falls Rd to as far downstream as Blue Mount Rd. People are raving that dozens of fish are working to these tiny bugs in the calmer areas before 10 a.m. I personally prefer to throw beetles, hoppers or nymphs whether tricos are hatching or not, but this year I’ve noticed too many fish feeding on these little flies to ignore them. Monkton access has been fishing good the past few weeks with Tricos in the morning, but the bug sightings are higher on the river now. Hoppers and large beetles with nymphs underneath 3-5 feet of 6X will work throughout the day. The trout were pouncing on size 10-14 stonefly nymph and chartreuse rock worm patterns the past few weeks, and a few are still taking them. Large Caddis with a sunk beetle or ant dropper has been a great combo rig.

Sage Z-Axis Review

I just fished the 10 foot five weight Sage Z-Axis rod for the second time after this morning’s float, along with a 11 foot 6 weight Sage Z-Axis Rod with a Spey grip. These rods can cast a mile, but more importantly, the ten foot rod length manages every inch of twenty to thirty feet of line anglers routinely fish on Maryland rivers.
The common response by anglers is why do you need all that rod for smaller fish and shorter casts?
Consider that using a shorter rod may mean not catching anything of size, because it is unable to effectively cover the water with as much efficiency as a long rod. If you have to cast three or four times to get the right drift down a seam you may be spooking the fish, instead of hitting the seam on the first cast. On a whole, these ten foot rods put a soaking wet size 6 Zonker a few feet off the bank every time at forty feet away with one false cast. The long rods work well for in-close high stick nymphing, and large hopper dropper rigs, too. I felt the Sage ten footers were lighter but stiffer than the Scott E2 ten footers, 1004-4 and 1006-4, I typically fish. If you enjoy heavy streamer fishing and look for extra distance in casting, the Sage is great. If you want the ability to throw heavy streamers, but prefer to nymph and toss the occasional dry fly, the Scott ten foot rods load more quickly and have a slightly softer touch.

Check out a recent video titled; Monster Brown Trout on the Gunpowder River, of a 5100-4 Sage Z-Axis in action on the Gunpowder River near Baltimore, Maryland.

Fly Fishing Clinic: Terrestrials

Please Join us Thursday evening, August 23, 2007 from 6:00 PM till 8:00 PM for a terrestrials clinic along the Gunpowder River.

A great clinic for those who would like to brush-up on skills prior to a trip out West. Learn how to fish ants, beetles & hoppers using a variety of techniques.

Cost is $75 per person and participants provide their own gear. Class size is limited to 4 and pre-registration is required. Please give us a call at 410-329-6821 or drop us a line at to pre-register.

Max’s Gunpowder River Fly Fishing Report

I hit the River at Masemore around 6:45 am on Wednesday the 8th, and fished an olive zonker until around 7. I got three fish on that , but I switched to a size 22 reverse hackle trico on a 13 foot 7x leader. I got four nice brown’s that way, but after 11 o’clock, the hatch dwindled, and the fish stopped rising.

Tricos are Tiny

I then put on a green weenie with a red San Juan worm dropper. This arrangement resulted in a few tangles, but also a couple of fish. At about noon, I began to hit the banks with ants and beetles, either floating, or sunken with a split shot. I got more fish on that arrangement, but the nicest fish came from a deep pool below Masemore. He was 16 inches, and hit a prince nymph that I had cast into the quick water that edged the pool. After that, I landed a few more fish on a white wooly bugger, and a lite-bright zonker.

Hoppers ready for a swim

Hoppers were working well when cast hard against the banks.
I left the river at 3:00, having landed 15 fish and having missed over three dozen.

Introducing Max Meneveau

Max Meneveau is 16 years old and is a Gunpowder river regular. He has been helping out in the shop this Summer and has been fly fishing for five years. When he’s not fly fishing or fly tying, he’s practicing Cello. Following this post is a stream report and photos from Max for the Gunpowder River.

Max at Backwater Angler

When I have free time away from the river, all I do is tie flies and practice casting. At Christmas, I visit my relatives in Chile and manage to squeeze in a little fly fishing.

Tricos and Hoppers along the Gunpowder River

Excellent flows in the mid 150’s, and cool clear water in the 59 to 64 F range throughout the catch and release area of the Gunpowder River have provided great fishing this week. Large streamers, #4-6 and tiny trico’s #22-26, (in the early hours) followed by Caddis in the #14-16 range, (mid-morning) and hoppers by mid to late afternoon should keep everyone busy and into wild fish this weekend. Leaders in the 7x to 8x range are the norm for trike fishing. Judging from Jason du Pont’s latest video, 4x or 5x tippet for streamers should be considered.

Thanks to Maj. Jason Nicholson for the following report from August 4.

Fishing was decent. Lots of fish rising in the slow stretch by the bend right when you come down the mountain from the “upper” parking lot at about 0930. Had a few strikes off and on in that general area and fished up past the first set of rapids. Then we fished back down to where the river narrows. I took a 10inch and 6inch rainbow in one large pool at about 4-5ft on a #18 winged nymph that I was fishing down and across. The small one hit from underneath a sunken log and the larger one was caught literally two casts later from underneath a shelf/rock edge. Both fought like crazy. Good day of fishing given the weather and water conditions.
– Show quoted text –

Trico Hatch on the Gunpowder River, Maryland

The Gunpowder is flowing at 115 Cfs, (an ideal level for dry fly fishing and wading), and we’ll see an increase in flow through the weekend in the 150 to 160 Cfs range, (think streamers and large terrestrials). Currently water temperature is 61 F at Falls Rd, Tricos are present from the Dam through Monkton, and Kingfishers are trilling away from Masemore to Falls Rd. Most of the trikes are in the #22-24 range, so plan on using 7 or 8x and try not to set the hook too quickly. Caddis sized #16-18, are worth skating midday through the evening hours along the edges of riffles and flats. Lite bright zonkers and olive bead head buggers stripped slowly through the pools might provide some much needed relief from the “dreaded tinys.” Tired of working so hard? Swing a renegade or griffith’s gnat in fast, shallow riffles and hang on.

Thanks to Fred for the following stream report from August 1:

Fished below Falls rd. this morning to a vey nice trico hatch. Fish were readily taking size 20 gray midges and also on tandem with reverse hackle in 22-24 size. I just took out some of the left over black fly patterns from late winter and probably caught and missed around 20-30 fish. Also managed some bigger fish before and after on green weenies. Big Streamers will probably work as well considering 3-4 fish almost got eaten by larger 16-18 inch fish. Fishing slowed down around 11 a. m.

talk to you soon


Fly Tying for Beginners

Please join us for a Beginners Fly Tying Class on Saturday September 8, from 11:00 AM till 2:00PM. It’s an introductory fly tying class that focuses on Gunpowder river patterns. Our very own Gunpowder river guides will be teaching this fun-filled beginners class. Cost of the class is $45 per person, and includes the use of tools and materials. The class is limited to six and pre-registration is required. Please give us a call at 410-329-6821 or drop us a line at to pre-register.