Every time I write a Gunpowder Fishing Report, fishing conditions seem to immediately change. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen this time.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Recently, we’ve seen the infinitely wise custodians from Baltimore City give us this:
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.