An afternoon on the Gunpowder River

An afternoon on the Gunpowder River

I had free time recently and decided to spend an afternoon fishing the Gunpowder River in Maryland.  I’ve fished this river before, but had limited success on my first time out.  I’m happy to say that the fishing was much better on this trip.

I started the day at Masemore Road and walked my way up the trail.  I stopped at a few spots along the way, mostly tossing a double nymph rig into spots that looked promising.  Once I reached the area just beneath Falls Road, I ran into quite a few fly fishermen.  As I mentioned in my previous post, there’s a section of slow water just below the Falls Road bridge.  I decided to hike up past Falls Road, and try to hit the slower water at dusk on my way back to my car.

I love the look of the river above Falls Road.  It’s a classic mountain stream full of boulders, fast water, and long slow stretches.  I’ve had the most success here casting close to the banks in seams of water that are deeper.  The gunpowder can be quite shallow at times, and it’s important to find the sections with some depth.   I tied on a size 18 Parachute Adams with a size 20 nymph about 12″ below.  I walked up to a stretch of river where a deeper channel of water ran close to the bank on the opposite side of me, and started casting across.  A couple of drifts by some over hanging brush, and a brown trout explosively rose out of the water for the fly.  I missed it.  If there’s one benefit to missing a hookset on a rising trout, it’s the bit of confidence you have afterward.

I made another delicate cast to the opposite bank, and was met with another rising trout.  This time the fish was on. After a quick fight, a healthy wild brown came to my net.  It was an icebreaker.  As I’ve written before, I consider the first fish of the day a welcome sign of a good day ahead of you, especially if it’s on a river that’s new to you.

brown trout gunpowder falls river maryland
There’s gold in those hills.

After casting a few more times, I still saw fish rising and decided to keep with my strategy.  I worked my way up the river and caught several more trout on my dry/dropper set up.

wild brown trout gunpowder falls river maryland fly fishing
Another wild brown trout

Once I hit the more mountainous stretch of the river above Falls Road, I decided to turn around and fish my way back down.  I find that I have more success in these faster stretches of water if I nymph the bottom, and didn’t want to switch flies/techniques.  During the summer months, I prefer to fish a dry while I can get away with it!  There’s all winter to dredge the bottom of the river with my flies.

I switched my nymph a couple of times, as a few of the flies got worn out.  Below are a few more trout from the day.  I never get tired of looking at these fish.

7 thoughts on “An afternoon on the Gunpowder River

  1. Nicely done catching the wild browns! What a gift that such nice trout water is so close to the sprawl of the Baltimore area. I hope it always stays that way.
    Best Regards, Sam

    1. Hi Sam,

      Thanks! It’s a fun river to fish, and can be challenging as well. Surprisingly, there are a few streams within a short drive of DC that hold wild trout. I hope it stays that way as well! Hope your summer has been going well.

      Jeff

      Jeff

  2. I check in on your blog site from time to time to see if you have been fishing in your new environs. I hope you have been getting out some. Bondsville Swift has been good to me this year, though not as many brook trout. I read the upper Swift is seeing as many either, but big browns have been seen cruising up there lately.
    Best, Sam

    1. Hi Sam,

      Good to hear from you and I hope all is well. I’m actually about to publish a new report on an outing to a new stream in Maryland. Glad to hear you’ve been doing well in Bondsville. Believe it or not, I had a chance to fish the Swift for a few hours last week. I was actually disappointed because I didn’t catch a single brook trout, so it’s interesting to hear that there aren’t as many around this year. Wonder where they all went? I had many big stocked rainbows on the line, but didn’t land a single fish. Broke a couple fish off and just couldn’t keep a fish on the hook for the life of me. I did hook another fairly large brown, and it threw the hook as well. Once hooked I saw it rubbing it’s side on the stream bed similarly to how fish do when they’re spawning. Not a bad tactic to throw a hook. They don’t grow big by being dumb, that’s for sure. Wish I could spend more time there aside from scattered work trips to mass.

      Jeff

  3. Jeff, I am glad you got to fish the Swift and connected with some. LDR woes have hit me lately as well. It’s OK though, I am just glad to connect and feel the power on my 5 weight if only for a short while. As for the brook trout I think last winter took a toll, mergansers are all too common, and I believe the big browns are getting big on them.
    Best, Sam
    Best, Sam

  4. Jeff, that is indeed a great tactic to get rid of a barbless fly. Those browns keep digging deep for a reason don’t they? Best, Sam

    1. Sam,

      They sure know what they’re doing. I’ve heard stories from others on the swift that have had a run in with one of the big browns, and it has always ended in a snapped line or a shaken fly. I even bought a bigger net for the next brown shortly before I moved to DC.

      Jeff

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