Fishing Report 7/19/14: Gunpowder and Beaver Creek

The Gunpowder has been hit or miss this year.  High flows made much of spring unfishable, then we had a stellar sulphur hatch.  The transition from sulphurs to summer terrestrial season is usually bridged by significant caddis action.  This year, caddis have been there, but caddis patterns have not been as consistently productive as they could be.  Fortunately, we are finally seeing signs of moving fully into terrestrial season.  Ants and beetles are both productive patterns at the moment.

Beaver Creek

On Friday, I decided to take a break from the inconsistency of the Gunpowder and travel to Beaver Creek, near Hagerstown, Maryland.  There is at least one Beaver Creek in Virginia and at least one in Pennsylvania.  Like it’s namesake to the south, Maryland’s Beaver Creek is a ‘limestoner’, or more generally a spring creek.  The spring sources keep the temperatures and flows consistently in ranges that trout enjoy throughout the year.  In addition to stocked rainbows, Beaver Creek has a nice population of wild browns.

There are roughly 1.5 miles of public catch and release (flyfishing only, I think) waters on Beaver Creek.  Nearly all of it is densely wooded, making shorter rods advantageous, in my opinion, unless you are much more interested in nymphing than dries.  The stream holds two distinct types of habitat for trout.  The first is the classic spring creek flat:

Beaver Creek Maryland

Look for individual risers here

This is one of my favorite kinds of fishing–delicate presentations to individual rising fish.  I caught only wild browns here, stalking them one at a time.  I also saw, but fortunately didn’t catch, a huge school of suckers.

Brown Trout from Beaver Creek

Wild Beaver Creek brown trout

The other main type of trout habitat is a series of pools, mostly man made, that hold many trout.  They are primarily stocked rainbows, some of which are holdovers that act like wild trout, and many of which are HUGE.  I watched a 20″ rainbow eye up my nymph before thinking better of the idea in the hole pictured below.

Beaver Creek pool

A productive pool

Nymphing was the most productive method for me in these pools, though a variety of methods would work.

All in all, Beaver Creek is a great option.  It’s not huge, so more than a couple anglers might make it seem crowded, but there is more than enough excellent trout water to make for a fun day trout fishing.

One additional note:  nearly all the land around Beaver Creek is privately owned, and is accessible through the generosity of landowners.  Thank you, landowners, for making this beautiful little stream available.

Gunpowder Fishing Report, 7/2/2014


Flyfishing Gunpowder falls Maryland

Morning fog on the Gunpowder

Flows have finally stabilized at near optimal levels, and fishing has been good.  The Sulphur hatch is waning, but caddis are coming off strongly most of the day. Caddis like the No-Hackle Caddis and ants have been effective.

Although the sulphur hatch seems to be in its latter stages, fish will often key in on the mayfly during brief hatches.  Smaller (size 18) patterns are more effective now than the larger patterns fish were taking in late May and early June.

The No-Hackle Caddis

I just realized it has been over three weeks since my last post.  Sorry about that–I have been on vacation in New England for a good bit of that time, and living in Baltimore I have learned not to broadcast my vacations…  I did get to fish a little bit, mostly on smallmouth rivers and brook trout streams.

Brook trout fly fishing

A pretty little New Hampshire brookie

I’ll be back with Gunpowder Fishing Reports this week.  Since I haven’t been on that river in nearly two weeks, any report I could give would be stale.  To help make up for my laziness, I will clue you in to a very easy-to-tie fly that will be a key part of my arsenal this time of year.  Terrestrials are gearing up on the Gunpowder, but my favorite and most productive dry from here through about October is the No-Hackle Caddis.

Caddis fly for fly fishing

Not pretty, but very effective

Credit for inventing this fly goes to Bob Wyatt (see the Spring 2013 issue of Fly Rod and Reel Magazine,, who calls it the No-Hackle Deer Hair Sedge.  He ties it prettier than I do, but I can’t imagine it’s that much more effective.

The tie couldn’t be more simple.  Dub a body, then tie on a deer hair wing.  That’s it. I use all sections of the deer hair, but the thickest ones float best.  This fly floats better than any fly I have ever used, yet trails its tasty looking dubbed body in the film.  This often entices very aggressive strikes.  Nearly any color dubbing can work.  My favorites are yellow, gray, and natural hare’s ear, but I have had success with half a dozen other colors.  I also typically tie in size 14 or 16.  You can match your flies to the size and color of caddis you see on the stream, or use it as an attractor.

The best use of the No-Hackle Caddis is in slightly broken water, like a riffle or current seam.  I have had very productive days with this fly not just on the Gunpowder, but on mountain streams from the Hyalite in Montana to the Appalachian freestoners in Shenandoah National Park.  Last week on the West Branch of the Battenkill in Vermont, I only had 45 minutes to fish.  I tied on the fly pictured above and raised 5 brookies in that short time without ever changing flies.

The fly has incredible floating properties.  You can easily drop a small nymph off the hook.  A special bonus:  you can swing the No-Hackle Caddis like a wet at the end of your drift, and if you don’t get a strike on the swing (which happens more than you might think), false cast once then fish it again as a dry.  You can do this for a surprisingly long time between applications of your favorite powder floatant.


Gunpowder Fishing Report, 6/4/14: Spinner Fall

I’ve been lucky to get out on the Gunpowder a couple times this week.  Yesterday was the first chance I’ve had to catch a spinner fall, and I am glad I stuck around for it.

Sulphurs continue to hatch on the Gunpowder.  Morning fishing has been mostly about caddis for me, but after about 11:00 AM, you start to see sulphurs on the water.  Funny thing about yesterday, although I saw a number of hatches throughout the day–including the most concentrated sulphur hatch I’ve seen this year–there were almost no rises.  I caught fish during the hatches only when I switched to a wet fly (like a Little Marryat).

Sulphur Comparadun fly for flyfishing the Gunpowder

This sulphur comparadun was very effective during spinner fall.  I can’t wait to get my real camera back…

I had to wait until 8:25 (which, coincidentally was exactly sunset yesterday) to ‘see’ the spinner fall.  I say ‘see’, because I actually saw almost no bugs despite looking up, down, at the water, and at every background available. I saw a couple lime sallies, and that was about it.  Still, the trout were going crazy.

I targeted two individual fish, cast about six times total, and caught both of them on the size 18 sulphur comparadun above.  I couldn’t really see at that point, so I ended it on a high note.

I don’t expect last night’s rain put the hatch or the fish off too much, but you never know.  Good luck.

Gunpowder Fishing Report, 5/20/14: Sulphur hatch is/was on

I had heard that sulphurs* had been coming off in the evening.  As of last night I can confirm it firsthand. Despite water that’s higher than ideal, I don’t think I could have had too much more of an ideal evening last night (5/20).

Sulphur hatch Gunpowder Falls Maryland

One of the prettier bugs you’ll ever see…

I’d seen sporadic sulphurs and corresponding rises, but this was the first sustained hatch and rise I’d been a part of on the Gunpowder this year.  I brought several very nice fish to hand (sorry, no photos–my waterproof camera is in the shop), and should have landed about twice as many.

The sulphurs I saw were in the 14 to 16 size range, mostly yellow with a bit of orange on the thorax.  Rises were aggressive.

If we don’t get too much rain, it should (hopefully) be very good fishing the next few days.

*Is it sulphurs or sulfurs?  Even the Interwebs don’t seem to know for sure.


Gunpowder fishing report, 5/16/14

Over the last couple of days, flows on the Gunpowder eased down to just under 200cfs, providing 3 or 4 days with marginally fishable or better conditions.  Fishing was generally fairly slow, with caddis patterns raising the occasional fish most of the day.  However, there were sporadic sulfur hatches that led to some decent dry fly action, and I heard of (but didn’t personally see) some fairly impressive spinner falls in the evening.  A size 14 parachute sulfur pattern drew some aggressive takes during the hatches I witnessed…

Then this happened:

Gunpowder river flows hit 800cfs

Just when you thought it was safe to get back in the water…

If we are lucky, the Gunpowder might be fishable by the end of next week.  This has been a frustrating spring.

Underwater Photography Vol. 2: Catch and Release

Despite the beautiful spring weather through this weekend, most eastern Maryland trout streams will be too high to fish for several more days.  So I thought now would be a good time to post the second edition of my ongoing attempts at underwater photography.


Undoubtedly, the most exhilarating moment in trout fishing is the moment you first make connection with the fish–the take on your dry fly, the dip of your strike indicator, or the tug on your line as the trout snatches your streamer.

Flyfishing for brown trout

Landing a brown trout

This was taken seconds before netting the trout, looking into his open mouth. Despite the excitement of the catch, this phase is difficult photograph in a way that turns into interesting photos.

I like this next one because the blurriness lends it an almost impressionistic feeling:

Landing a cutthroat trout flyfishing

A displeased Yellowstone Cutt

Or, maybe it’s just bad photography.

…and Release

While the catch provides the most intensely exciting moment in flyfishing, the release can be more profound.  You as the angler have had a unique opportunity to briefly connect with a wild animal in its natural setting, and you get to witness its safe return to its home.

Flyfishing for brook trout

‘Let me go, already’

The trout, if you were able to ask them, likely have a different opinion.  I doubt the fish have anything like what we think of as emotions, but their eyes sometimes seem as if they do.

Confused trout flyfishing

He looks a little confused

The release gives you a different perspective on the fish.

Releasing a rainbow trout flyfishing

Rainbow trout

Morgan Run brown trout flyfishing

Brown trout at Morgan Run

The best part of the release is when the trout swims, with a healthy burst of speed, back home…

Flyfishing eastern Maryland

A wild brown goes home in Eastern Maryland (not the Caribbean)

Cutthroat trout flyfishing

A native cutt goes home to Soda Butte

Brookie caught flyfishing

A native brookie returns to his clear, cold Appalachian stream