Is it really Spring? I just got the first real sign today: rising fish on the Gunpowder.
I decided to check in on the Gunpowder today, after avoiding the rock-snotty mess the river had become in February for a few weeks. I’m glad I did. What really makes the Gunpowder special for me is sightfishing to rising trout. Seeing a pod of wild browns taking emergers under a tree below the Masemore bridge reminded me why I love this river.
Gunpowder trout are both spooky and selective. The fish in the flat at Masemore are even more so. These are tough fish to catch–if you consistently catch them you have some bragging rights in the flyfishing world. I do not consistently catch trout at Masemore, and when I do it makes my day.
With water temps of 41-42 degrees, there was a consistent hatch most of the afternoon of size 20 gray midges (could have been BWO’s, but I think they were midges). The trout were rising almost aggressively, mostly ignoring the adults in favor of subsurface emergers. Some of the rises were really cool, with the tails of the trout becoming visible as they arced back down after taking an emerger. I caught this trout on a really simple CDC emerger I tied (size 18, black dubbed body, olive CDC puff wing and that’s it).
We’re expecting snow tomorrow, but the river should be fishing well again by the end of the week. It looks like the rock snot is nearing the end of it’s life cycle as well. Maybe Spring is really here…
Frustrated with the high, cold water and didymo at Gunpowder (and maybe a little inspired by the stocking I did last week), I decided to check out 2 other Maryland trout streams this week I was hoping for a little easy action with the stocked streams I picked. Didn’t turn out that way.
Maryland DNR is busy stocking trout streams all over the state. Many of these streams are closed to allow the fish to acclimate. If you are planning to go out, check the stocking schedule to make sure you don’t fish a closed section.
Daniels Dam section of the Patapsco
On Wednesday (3/19), I fished the 2 trout a day Daniels Dam section of the Patapsco.
You can see the dam in the background, past the old railroad trestle. This is a larger stream by Maryland standards, and has several sections that looked just incredibly ‘fishy’. Additionally, the water was 41.5 degrees when I got there, a full degree warmer than the Gunpowder.
I fished about an hour and a half, first casting streamers with no success, then trying out a variety of nymphs before pulling up this little guy on a midge emerger fished as a nymph:
I think this section is definitely worth another look when I can spend some more time there.
On Thursday (3/20), I decided to check out Morgan Run. I had heard great things, both about the beauty of the river itself, and about the plentiful and not overly picky trout. It was one of those days where you show up to the river and think to yourself “this is going to be a special day”. And then it isn’t.
The stream lived up to its reputation in one regard: it is beautiful. The clear, emerald tinged pools reminded me of a tiny version of Utah’s Green River. With one major difference. I didn’t see any trout. As clear as the water was, I was shocked not to see a single fish other than the one I caught.
The water was relatively warm (42.5 degrees), and bugs were abundant, but I saw not a single rise all day. I think the stocked trout haven’t figured out that stoneflies are food.
I believe that to be a little black stonefly, but my entomology skills are weak. Whatever they are, they were abundant and very small (sz 18 or 20). Wild trout would have been gorging on them. As the water at Morgan Run was nearly 1.5 degrees warmer than the Gunpowder at the same time, I would expect to potentially see nice hatches of these flies on the Gunpowder. I have seen sporadic examples already.
And then there’s this:
Any biologists reading this, please feel free to let me know what this is in the comments section. It was about 2.5 inches long, and has weird tendrils near its ‘mouth’.
Anyway, the sole fish I caught was on a prince nymph, and he squirted away before I could get a picture of him. He looked pretty much just like his cousin (above). I tried more or less everything in the 4 hours I was there, so I can’t be of much help in terms of ‘what’s working’ at this point.
Despite intermittent light midge and what they call blackfly hatches, fishing on the Gunpowder has been very slow. Rock snot is making nymph fishing almost painful. So I decided to hit the stream in another capacity: as a volunteer helping DNR stock streams.
I fish mostly for wild trout myself, and I’m kinda lukewarm on stocking. I’d much rather see the money and effort spent on restoring and protecting wild trout habitat. I’m no purist, though, so I figured ‘why not?’
The process is somewhat fun, although I’m not sure how the trout feel about it. After getting divvied into buckets
the fish are distributed to favorable habitat along the river.
Seeing as alpine lakes in California have been successfully stocked by airplane, I don’t think this is too stressful for the trout. In all, it was a good day and a new way to see the river. It was fun to see the trout react to their new habitat.
If you’d like do it yourself, leave a note in the comments and I’ll put you in touch with the guys at the DNR. Here’s a link to the stocking schedule. Most of the action goes on weekdays during March. Note that many of the streams are closed during stocking, so be sure to check before you head out to fish.