Gunpowder Fishing Report, 9/17/14

So…. the semester started and with it my other job, limiting my fishing for a few weeks.  The days I have been out, though, it’s been pretty stellar.

Brown trout caught flyfishing gunpowder falls md

Standard Gunpowder Brown

Three things to note if you are going out.  The first is a fact, the second two are my observations.  First, the water is LOW.  Second, tricos are abundant.  Find a hatch and you will find good fishing.  Usually mornings and slow pools are your best bets.  Third, try a beetle.  I had a ridiculous half hour of fishing right before I had to leave this afternoon with a beetle pattern.  Caught a bunch of browns and this (apparently stocked) rainbow.

Rainbow trout flyfishing Gunpowder Fallls Md

Rainbow swimming away

I don’t get too excited about the size of stocked fish, but with the sparsity of large fish on the Gunpowder, it’s nice to hook into a fish that pushes 14 inches.  You’ll have to take my word for it though, since this is the only shot I got.

8/19/2014 Gunpowder Fishing Report

Every time I write a Gunpowder Fishing Report, fishing conditions seem to immediately change.  Let’s hope that doesn’t happen this time.

Good news

Fishing has improved.  We had a very cold and wet spring, which seems to have thrown off the river all summer.  Where I would normally have been fishing caddis and terrestrial dries all summer, I was reduced to nymphing just to make myself feel better.  This last week things seem to have changed.

Flyfishing for rainbow trout Gunpowder Falls

Gunpowder rainbow trout

In addition to some very good success prospecting with beetles, I have seen several hatches in the last week.  They looked like trico hatches, although fish have responded better to tiny olive imitations.  I have also seen and had more success with caddis this week than any other time this year.

Another thing to note:  that rainbow in the picture above was caught well above the stocked section.  We’ve been seeing much more of that than usual this year. Hopefully this just means that fish have been moving around more than normal.

Have fun out there!

Fishing Report 8/11/14: the Gunpowder is a tough river

One thing about the Gunpowder… it will keep you on your toes.  Get complacent, and you risk getting skunked.

This year on the River has been so unusual that having a ton of local knowledge is not necessarily an advantage.  Veteran flyfishers and people who I consider top notch fishermen have often come into the shop (Backwater Angler in Monkton) and complained of fewer fish, no fish, conditions not worth fishing.

flyfishing Gunpowder river

Morning fog rises from the Gunpowder–at least that’s normal.

Then someone from out of town will come in beaming, waving iPhone shots of some of his 11 trout for the day.  What did he use?  Something we ‘know’ shouldn’t work this time of year.

The fish are out there, and they are catchable.  I think part of the problem is that I (and many other people I’m talking to) are stuck to varying degrees in the “this has worked in the past, so I’m going to stick with it until it works” mindset.  On a typical year, that works great.  The only hatch we’ve had this year that has been typical is the sulphur hatch.  (Even that was a little off).

Right now, we are supposed to have great success on ants and beetles, moving into some hopper action.  Caddis are supposed to be filling the gaps, providing somewhat steady action through riffles.  You know, the usual for this time of year.

I’ve had a couple days when the usual has worked well, but when things are as off kilter as the Gunpowder is now, you need to look beyond what you expect the river to do.  Look with fresh eyes, as a visitor would.  Forget what they should be eating, and try to figure out what they are eating.  Some days for me, that has meant exclusively nymphing.  Others I never put a nymph on.

Current Conditions 

Recently, we’ve seen the infinitely wise custodians from Baltimore City give us this:

Gunpowder flows and temps

The drastic drop in flows (down to the minimum) will change the way the river is fishing this week.  Expect fish to pool up in holes and become substantially more spooky.  Higher temps should help get fish more active.   We’ll see.

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.