Gunpowder Deep Freeze

On Wednesday, I took advantage of the first day in recent memory that ambient temperatures weren’t encouraging water to freeze.  I was prodded partially just by the desire to be outside, but also by this:

Gunpowder river frozen
Those flat bars mean that ice is impeding the stream gauge from delivering readings.

I had driven over the river in Monkton last week, and it was frozen over.  Theaux at the shop said this is the first time he’s seen this in 15 years.  But that is nearly 9 1/2 stream miles below the dam.  Could ice be covering the river just over a mile below the dam?  I hoped not.

Gunpowder frozen at Monkton
Looking upstream from the bridge at Monkton

I didn’t even bother bringing a fly rod.  I just strapped on my gaiters and yaktrax and went exploring on the upper Gunpowder (above Falls Rd, where the stream gauge is.)

So, the good news is that the top section of the tailwater is NOT frozen.

Gunpowder RIver
Gunpowder showing one of its pretty sides

It was great to get out on the trail, although calling the stretch by the boulder pools a ‘trail’ is generous.  I wouldn’t recommend going on that trail.  I know it by heart from the hours I’ve spent there during non-snow covered times, but there were still sketchy moments.  It was beautiful, though.

Gunpowder Falls trail covered in snow
The trail…

Despite the frozen gauge, water temps are slowly creeping up.  I’m hoping winter breaks soon and we will see some decent fishing in the not too distant future.

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Beaver Creek (Maryland)

Rainbow Trout Beaver Creek
Rainbow heading back home on Beaver Creek

About this time every year I get a bit of wanderlust.  The Gunpowder is definitely fishable 12 months of the year, but if I’m being honest,  it’s not always fun.  The dead of winter can and does produce some great days.  Still, enough slow, cold days in a row and I start pining for my favorite kind of fishing:  sight fishing dries to rising trout.  This time of year, that means spring creeks.

Last year I took a midweek trip to 2 spring creeks in Virginia to sate my dry fly craving.  This week I thought about heading north to the more famous spring creeks in Pennsylvania, but considering that there is a legitimate spring creek less than 90 minutes from Baltimore, I decided to stay closer to home.  Little and lovely, Maryland’s Beaver Creek was calling my name.

My last trip to Beaver Creek was mostly about exploration.  I visited in July (highlighting one of the appeals of spring creeks–they are fishable when other streams are either too hot or too cold), and walked nearly the length of the flyfishing only section.  This time I had less time to explore, so I followed the recommendation of James of Beaver Creek Fly Shop and stayed near the upper end of that section.

Beaver Creek Rainbow Trout
Beaver Creek Rainbow

The reward?  Sight fishing to rising fish.  Really can’t ask for much more than that.  Like last time, I saw some monsters.  The fish I caught were more modest in size, but beautifully colored.  Apparently there is excellent holdover and significant reproduction of rainbows in Beaver Creek, leading to a nice wild population of ‘bows.  Plus I made some friends:

Mini Donkeys and goats on Beaver Creek
Streamside companions

I’ve grown to love Beaver Creek.  It’s a beautiful option when the Gunpowder shows its stubborn side.

Midwinter on the Gunpowder

I apologize for the sparsity of posts as we head into the second month of 2015.  There just hasn’t been much to write about.

Beaver on Maryland's Gunpowder Falls
At least last year frequent beaver sightings broke up the slow winter fishing

My typical winter rig involves a medium sized bead head nymph of almost any variety (basically to attract the trout’s attention and get the dropper fly down) followed by a tiny (sz18-22) zebra midge or thread midge.  Usually I use some added weight and an indicator.  Typically, this method is steadily if not necessarily spectacularly effective until the didymo makes it too frustrating to bother with.  So far this year, didymo has been below average.  Unfortunately so have hookups.  (And it’s not like I’ve been shy about trying other techniques.)

I’m going to be looking around at spring creeks in the near Mid-Atlantic over the next couple of weeks for a much needed respite from the Gunpowder.  If you know of anything that has been working, feel free to share in the comments section.  We should also be seeing some little black stoneflies soon, so look out for that.

Gunpowder fishing in winter
Gunpowder this winter: Pretty scenery, slow fishing