I just realized that it has been over 3 weeks since my last post… sorry about that. In many ways, it’s been like that movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray since then–conditions have been almost identical each day.
Flows have been the same, temperatures have stayed in the same range (about 47-53 degrees) every day. The really good news about this is that the sulphurs seem to LOVE this combination. Sulphurs have started coming off in earnest about 1PM (though sometimes a little earlier or later), and fish have been rising through about 4 or 5PM. Then they stop. Every day.
Good luck! Hopefully this weekend’s projected storms don’t disrupt our happy pattern.
Fishing on the Gunpowder went from great to terrible, then back to pretty darn good again. The city opened a lower reservoir outlet, simultaneously decreasing water temperatures and regulating flows. We are now in a pretty good spot, with inconsistent but frequently very nice sulphur hatches. Pheasant tails (and variants) and small midge or olive nymphs have been very productive when rises are not apparent.
Afternoons have been fishing best, and the whole river seems to be productive at this point.
You can tell I am excited. Sulphurs can bring some of the best fishing of the year to the Gunpowder. Sulphur patterns are working as fish start to look up after a long, cool spring. The hatch is in its early stages and pretty sporadic, but the dry fly action is as good as it has been this year. Higher water temperatures are making trout more active overall, so this is a good time to get out there.
We continue to seem to be right on the cusp of really good fishing. I have heard a couple reports of fish taking dry flies, and I have witnessed a rise or two, but fishing dries has mostly been a slow process of prospecting. I saw several small (size 16) tan caddis today, so that might be changing.
I caught this solid, healthy trout on a size 14 black stonefly nymph. Having seen caddis, I know what I will try next time I’m out on the stream.
As I suggested in my last post, the Gunpowder feels like it is just on the brink of fishing really well. Flows are good, and water temperatures are in the mid-40’s. I feel like we should start to see fish rising any time. I didn’t see a single rise yesterday, but I did see a couple Hendricksons (I believe) in size 14ish along with a large number of midges. (I did hear reports in the shop of trout rising to midges, but I can’t confirm that.)
Seeing no rises, I had success with nymphs imitating both Hendricksons (really Hare’s ears) and midges. Fishing faster water yielded nothing, but when I focused on deeper pools I found the trout to be feeding eagerly. I am hoping that the rain called for this week doesn’t send the river too high–if it doesn’t, I think we see some good fishing soon. As it stands, take your opportunities as you get them, because you never know what tomorrows weather is going to bring. That’s the reality of spring fishing on the Gunpowder.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
I’ve grown to love Beaver Creek. It’s a beautiful option when the Gunpowder shows its stubborn side.