Last week I journeyed to western Maryland for some big water fishing. The tailwaters in the region have been flowing extremely high all winter, and I took the first chance to fish once the levels dropped. Many anglers are learning the Savage Reservoir has been releasing water to lower levels so a broken dam release gate can be repaired. The reservoir has been nearly emptied from extended releases in the 600 Cfs range through winter. Depending on how quickly work is completed the reservoir may or may not gain back enough water in time to provide cold flows through summer. According to MD Fisheries freshwater report webpage, it is too early to tell if flows will be a problem come summer. Clarity problems seem to have improved on the Savage as it was clear while I fished it, despite reports of murky water the past few months. The “Licks” and upper Savage are flowing very high, and many roadside ditches are brimming with runoff from rains and snow melt. Currently there is no lack of water on the lower Savage, as it rose from 78 Cfs to 125 Cfs over three days. Stoneflies, Blue quills and BWOs were hatching in good numbers bringing some trout to the surface. The hatches were short, but accounted for many of my fish caught. Size 18 PT nymphs also worked in the deeper pools, and narrow chutes.
The North Branch was 300 Cfs at Barnum,WV. I brought no large trophies to hand, but managed to catch my first East Coast cutthroat. I snapped the pic above and caught 3 more in the same hole. The fish were healthy and holding in some prime water, which oddly enough was where a client caught one last July. I hooked up on a few large rainbows, and came tight on a solid 20 inch + brown that tore off down river, nearly into my backing, before pulling free. The water temp was 45 degrees, and the fish were pretty sluggish on dries despite an impressive hatch of brown stoneflies. Fishing subsurface was key, seining the river I found scuds, stonefly nymphs and caddis larva. Both rivers are at great levels, bugs are hatching and fishing is good as long as releases continue.