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
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Fishing Report April 1: Gunpowder and Little Falls

The Gunpowder is still HIGH as of 4/3 at 11:00AM.

 

Gunpowder Falls Stream Flow
Still high

Doesn’t look so bad, but it the river is running at 337cfs.  I think about 250cfs is the maximum for any kind of reasonable fishing.  75 to 150cfs is about ideal.

So Tuesday (on the recommendation of Theaux at Backwater Angler) I headed over to Little Falls near Dairy Road, which was in much better shape.

Flyfishing Little Falls Maryland
A run at Little Falls

The main attraction of Little Falls is supposed to be the stocked fish.  Opening day for many stocked streams, including Little Falls, was March 29, and it seems like the put and take fishermen did a pretty good job this year.

This section Little Falls is characterized by a series of runs and relatively deep holes.  Given the high water and off color conditions, streamer fishing seemed to be in order.  Surprisingly, my black wooly bugger had more success with the wild browns than with the stocked rainbows.

Brown Trout Flyfishing Little Falls Maryland
I could have got a better picture…

There was a fairly consistent hatch of brown stoneflies which were substantially larger than the little black stoneflies I saw recently at Morgan Run.

Stonefly flyfishing Little Falls Maryland
Stonefly

Unfortunately, as high and cloudy as the water was I didn’t see any rises and nymphing was not particularly effective with the patterns I was using.

 

Coolest video (of a trout) ever

We can’t catch a break this winter.  The Gunpowder hasn’t reached 40 degrees all week, and now that flows are coming down to fishable levels, the high today is supposed to be around 25.  We need a few good days in the 50’s for things to really pick up.

Sometimes bad weather can lead to good things, though.  Check out this video from Orvis.  It might just possibly be the coolest trout video ever.

Fly fishing and Wildlife (and a brief stream report)

With air temps in the single digits bringing water temps into the 37-39 degree range earlier this week, then torrential rains sending flows on the Gunpowder to roughly 650cfs (80 to 140cfs flows are ideal in my book) this was a tough week for fishing.  I was able to get out Friday, and found my go-to zebra midge still enticing to a couple trout.  The wooly bugger not so much.

The less than ideal weather has given me a chance to think back over the past year, and appreciate some of the things I truly love about fly fishing. A huge draw for me is the wildlife…

Gunpowder Falls Frog
Little Frog

Fly fishing in general puts you in a position to be closer to nature than you would be otherwise.  Despite being only 30 minutes from Baltimore, many sections of the Gunpowder really do give you the impression of being in the wilderness.  Frequent interactions with wildlife reinforce that impression.

Take this video for example.  I saw some bushes shaking, and I could only guess what was on the other end…

His handiwork is everywhere, and if you fish a certain section, you can almost be assured that he will discreetly swim past you fully submerged at some point.

Gunpowder beaver tree
He’s been busy…

Just this past year, in the various places I’ve fished I have seen eagles–both bald and golden, bison, a black bear,  a mink, a marmot, a wolf, red foxes and a grey fox, along with a bunch of beavers, otters and muskrats.  Here are some other shots seen fly fishing around the country…

Crawfish
Crawfish, Rock Creek, Montana
Salamander
Salamander, Shenandoah NP, Virginia
Yellowstone Bison
Bison crossing Soda Butte, Yellowstone NP
Marmot
Angry looking marmot, Grand Teton NP

Sorry for the digital zoom, but this guy is just awesome.  Stay warm this week, the best fishing will probably be towards the end of the week.