Fishing on the Gunpowder went from great to terrible, then back to pretty darn good again. The city opened a lower reservoir outlet, simultaneously decreasing water temperatures and regulating flows. We are now in a pretty good spot, with inconsistent but frequently very nice sulphur hatches. Pheasant tails (and variants) and small midge or olive nymphs have been very productive when rises are not apparent.
Afternoons have been fishing best, and the whole river seems to be productive at this point.
This past week was probably the best week we have seen this year flyfishing the Gunpowder. Water temperatures peaking in the low 60’s have fish looking up, and they are seeing hatches of sulphurs (the size 16, pale yellow variety) and small tan caddis. I’ve had more success with sulphur emergers, but other reputable fishermen (if there is such a thing) have reported success with the duns.
I like fishing caddis imitations, and the Gunpowder’s browns have been responding well to caddis patterns fished in likely holding spots near riffles.
On a side note, I broke out the tenkara outfit for the second time this week, and had an absolute blast along with catching some pretty nice browns. Catching my first trout on a tenkara rod felt a lot like my first fish on a dry fly. That’s saying something.
You can tell I am excited. Sulphurs can bring some of the best fishing of the year to the Gunpowder. Sulphur patterns are working as fish start to look up after a long, cool spring. The hatch is in its early stages and pretty sporadic, but the dry fly action is as good as it has been this year. Higher water temperatures are making trout more active overall, so this is a good time to get out there.
We continue to seem to be right on the cusp of really good fishing. I have heard a couple reports of fish taking dry flies, and I have witnessed a rise or two, but fishing dries has mostly been a slow process of prospecting. I saw several small (size 16) tan caddis today, so that might be changing.
I caught this solid, healthy trout on a size 14 black stonefly nymph. Having seen caddis, I know what I will try next time I’m out on the stream.
As I suggested in my last post, the Gunpowder feels like it is just on the brink of fishing really well. Flows are good, and water temperatures are in the mid-40’s. I feel like we should start to see fish rising any time. I didn’t see a single rise yesterday, but I did see a couple Hendricksons (I believe) in size 14ish along with a large number of midges. (I did hear reports in the shop of trout rising to midges, but I can’t confirm that.)
Seeing no rises, I had success with nymphs imitating both Hendricksons (really Hare’s ears) and midges. Fishing faster water yielded nothing, but when I focused on deeper pools I found the trout to be feeding eagerly. I am hoping that the rain called for this week doesn’t send the river too high–if it doesn’t, I think we see some good fishing soon. As it stands, take your opportunities as you get them, because you never know what tomorrows weather is going to bring. That’s the reality of spring fishing on the Gunpowder.
It’s great to finally have something to report on the Gunpowder. I was able to get out this morning, and the river has the feel of a river that is just on the verge of getting good. The water was exactly 40 degrees at 11AM (measured, not reported via USGS), and there were midges in the roughly 22 size range coming off and flying around the whole time I was there.
It’s close, but not quite in prime shape just yet. Fishing was fairly slow, and a beadhead olive nymph brought my only fish to hand, not for lack of trying midges and midge emergers. Once we see temps staying in the mid 40’s, I think we’ll see some active, rising trout.
As day 3 of my excursion to the western slopes of the Shenandoah Valley dawned, the trip had already brought me enough of what I look for in a flyfishing trip that I could have had a horrendous day and still counted the trip as an overall success. Fortunately, that didn’t happen.
Weather was expected to be iffy. Cool at the base of the mountain, almost cold at the top where I planned to go. Skidmore Reservoir (Elev. 2280 ft) is just a few miles from the West Virginia line. Virginia DGIF stocks it with fingerling brook trout, which are said to thrive in the lake and grow quickly. They are also said to make spawning runs up the Skidmore Fork that lets into the lake.
I had read in this blog post that the outlet just below the reservoir could provide some enjoyable brookie fishing. At 36 degrees, walking the streambank sounded more fun than floating, so I gave that a shot.
The water coming out of the reservoir was 42 degrees. Fishing was fun but not super fast. Another one of Murray’s patterns helped me entice a pair of little brookies in about 45 minutes.
After picking up a couple of these little guys, I wanted to see what I could do on the reservoir. I developed a taste for float tube stillwater trout fishing on the alpine lakes in Utah. If you haven’t tried stillwater trout fishing in a float tube, you should. I didn’t catch anything on the reservoir, but just floating in that serene alpine setting was a great experience.
In the 3 days I spent at the cabin in Rawley Springs, I was able to fish mountain trout streams, a valley spring creek, and an alpine lake, without ever driving more than 30 minutes. I also passed up the opportunity to fish Mossy Creek, another renowned spring creek. I would say that this little known area is up there with the top opportunities in the Mid Atlantic, not quite rivaling Garrett County, but close. I’m fairly certain I will make the trip again next year.