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.

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Gunpowder Fishing Report, Week of 11/24/2014

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.

Gunpowder nymph flies
Both of these are very effective. The larger one is a size 18.

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?

Underwater Photography Vol. 2: Catch and Release

Despite the beautiful spring weather through this weekend, most eastern Maryland trout streams will be too high to fish for several more days.  So I thought now would be a good time to post the second edition of my ongoing attempts at underwater photography.

Catch

Undoubtedly, the most exhilarating moment in trout fishing is the moment you first make connection with the fish–the take on your dry fly, the dip of your strike indicator, or the tug on your line as the trout snatches your streamer.

Flyfishing for brown trout
Landing a brown trout

This was taken seconds before netting the trout, looking into his open mouth. Despite the excitement of the catch, this phase is difficult photograph in a way that turns into interesting photos.

I like this next one because the blurriness lends it an almost impressionistic feeling:

Landing a cutthroat trout flyfishing
A displeased Yellowstone Cutt

Or, maybe it’s just bad photography.

…and Release

While the catch provides the most intensely exciting moment in flyfishing, the release can be more profound.  You as the angler have had a unique opportunity to briefly connect with a wild animal in its natural setting, and you get to witness its safe return to its home.

Flyfishing for brook trout
‘Let me go, already’

The trout, if you were able to ask them, likely have a different opinion.  I doubt the fish have anything like what we think of as emotions, but their eyes sometimes seem as if they do.

Confused trout flyfishing
He looks a little confused

The release gives you a different perspective on the fish.

Releasing a rainbow trout flyfishing
Rainbow trout
Morgan Run brown trout flyfishing
Brown trout at Morgan Run

The best part of the release is when the trout swims, with a healthy burst of speed, back home…

Flyfishing eastern Maryland
A wild brown goes home in Eastern Maryland (not the Caribbean)
Cutthroat trout flyfishing
A native cutt goes home to Soda Butte
Brookie caught flyfishing
A native brookie returns to his clear, cold Appalachian stream

Underwater Photography Vol. 1

One of the great things about fly fishing for trout is the opportunity to get into truly wild places and experience natural beauty.  Clearly, this leads to the potential for some great photography.  Don’t look for any of that here…

In the last year I have started to attempt some underwater photography, mostly of fish I have caught.  I bought an Olympus TG-2 for this purpose, and I’ve been very happy with it.  Here in Underwater Photography Volume 1 I have posted some of my early results.

Green River (NC) rainbow with a San Juan worm
Green River (NC) rainbow with a San Juan worm

Some of my best photos have come before actually landing the trout.  Here’s another example of that:

Gunpowder Brown
Almost like a little shark…

Unfortunately, many of my action shots come back looking like the following:

Blurry underwater trout
Underwater action shot

Unlike above water photos, strong sunlight helps with underwater shots from what I can tell.  If it is bright enough and the trout is sufficiently still, you can get shots like this:

Yellowstone Brown Trout
A cooperative Gardiner River brown

The main alternative to the previously mentioned method is to photo the fish on or shortly after release.  Sometimes the trout will cooperate and take a few seconds to catch its breath after what it believed to be a life or death struggle.  This provides a good opportunity for an underwater photo.

Yellowstone Cutt
Yellowstone Cutthroat catching his breath

I’m still working on getting the TG-2’s settings down, so hopefully we will see some improvement in Volume 2.