One of the general benefits of a tailwater is supposed to be that water temperatures are somewhat regulated. The water stays cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter than it would be otherwise, allowing trout and bugs to thrive all year. Seems like Baltimore City (which manages flows on the Gunpowder) is OK at keeping summer stream temps at levels that don’t kill trout, but that’s about it.
Tailwaters work because water passes through the dam from deep in the reservoir (that spout of water 1/4 of the way up the dam in the picture above), where temperatures are relatively constant throughout the year. When water pours over the top of the dam this either partially or completely negates the tailwater effect. That’s what happening on the Gunpowder right now.
I measured 2 tributaries of the Gunpowder yesterday as well as the Gunpowder itself. The tribs were both within 1 degree of the main river. The water is COLD and fishing, consequently, has been slow. I’ve heard isolated tales of people pulling out a big fish or two, but fishing has been super slow for me and just about everyone I’ve talked to. If you do go out, slow moving water is key to target, since the trout’s slower metabolism in cold water makes them seek these low energy intensive habitats.
One week in, one resolution broken… I promised a stream report every week this year, but for the first time in a really long time I didn’t fish this week! My stream report looks like this: IT’S COLD!
Winter storm Gorgon brought some snow to the banks of the Gunpowder, so be very careful if you head out. Winter fishing can be great–it’s one of my favorite times on the Gunpowder–but highs of 18 degrees and freezing line guides are just a bit too much. Plus, a drop to temps in this range slows down trout and speeds up rock snot…
On the plus side, I did update my site with a slightly cleaner look and a new Guiding Page. Check it out for information on the guide services I provide out of Backwater Angler in Monkton.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Here’s wishing you health, happiness and tight lines in 2015!
Looking into the new year, expect to see at least weekly Gunpowder fishing reports, as well as destination reports from rivers in Maryland and further afield. Hope you are enjoying the blog. Now get out there and catch some fish!
This time of year, it seems that nothing is constant except change. Air temps in the high 60’s give way to sleet, rain, or snow the following day. Still, the trout are there and willing to take the right well presented fly. I continue to focus almost exclusively on nymphs (see my post from last week), and continue to have success.
Fish are very active and generally are fighting aggressively. Water temperatures are still warm enough that exploring the lower sections of the river (down to Glencoe, for example) can still be fun and productive. Minimal didymo means nymphing is still fun. Generally, this is one of my favorite times of year on the river.
The only caveat at this point is that you need to be careful not to disturb spawning trout…
We have come to the part of the year where my dry flies give over to nymphs. Small midge nymphs will be my go-to fly until about March.
That’s not to say fishing hasn’t been good… I’ve had some of the best days I’ve had on the river this year within the last couple weeks. I haven’t seen much in the way of signs of spawning, except for this:
I have the smaller fish on the line. The larger trout just follows it over. I originally thought it was trying to eat the smaller fish–it’s pretty common to see a larger fish take a territorial or predatory swipe at a smaller fish as you bring it to hand. This I have never seen before. The more I watched the video, I realized that there does not appear to be any aggression in the larger fish’s behavior. Almost the opposite. I wonder if this is a mating pair? Thoughts?
One thing I often say to myself on the Gunpowder or elsewhere is ‘take what the river gives you’. By this I mean I believe you will have the most success in flyfishing if you adapt your approach to weather, flow, hatches, etc. rather than trying to make one technique work all the time*. That has been especially important on the Gunpowder recently, as there is great fishing to be had, but a technique that is lights out one day will leave you skunked the next…
One day you can have great success on dries (caddis, olives and/or tricos depending on when and where), only to have your offerings routinely snubbed the next. Standard nymphs–my go-to is a black zebra midge–have been more consistent. If you see these guys, though, you will still see fish coming to the surface in pretty good numbers:
Fish are still rising, the leaves have mostly cleared out, and the weather is about as good as it gets for fishing.
*I still always want to fish dries, regardless of my own advice…
The subtitle for this report is ‘Bring Your Trico to Work Day’.
This trico landed on my glasses while I was out on the Gunpowder before work, then tagged along with me back to the shop.
Despite various changes in flows–from 37cfs to 106cfs to 67cfs to 90something this morning (it’s back to 67 now), fishing has been fantastic. There are still remnant tricos around, with olives prominent on cloudy days. If nothing is rising, nymphing zebra midges has been very productive.
It’s definitely fall out there, but don’t give up on the terrestrials just yet. They are less consistent, but you will still get the occasional aggressive rise.