Spring Fly Fishing on the Gunpowder River, Maryland
Spring is here in the Mid-Atlantic. We’ve had a full week of sunshine with temperatures reaching almost 80 degrees on a handful of days. The trout stockings of early Spring have been in full swing, and I’ve spent most of my fishing days chasing these trout in February and March. One of the last weekends in March, I fished the Morgan Run boulders area off Klee Mill Road, and caught several brown trout on nymphs. The highlight of that trip was spotting a lone brown sipping flies on the surface of the river directly across from me in less than a foot of water. I took a shot at a long cast across, and it paid off. The brown sipped my fly as it went by, and I set the hook from 30 feet away. I always love the way the line peels off the water, and the few seconds after when you’re unsure if you’ll feel the weight of a fish, or see the line crumple down in front of you.
All that excitement brings me back to my first love in fly fishing; casting a dry fly. Considering all the warm weather, I headed over to the Gunpowder river in Maryland. This is a local gem to me, as it holds wild trout all year long. I assumed there might be some bug activity on this warm April day, and that the wild trout would be keyed in on them. It was a good bet!
When I arrived at the gunpowder, I tied on a parachute adams with a size 20 bead head midge underneath. After a few prospecting casts, a brown trout surprised me by swimming up to the surface and backwards to go after my fly. It grabbed it and we were off to the races. I knew today was going to be a good day.
Later I hiked up a ways to one of my favorite sections of the Gunpowder, and started seeing evidence of Sulphurs coming down to the water’s surface. Fortunately, I had a few Sulphur patterns in my fly box and decided to give them a shot. The fish were rising periodically in the slower sections of water and after a few casts, I landed my first trout on a sulphur. It was a brook trout, which was awesome to see. I’ve previously only caught browns and rainbows on the Gunpowder, so this was a new one for me!
The rest of the day, I caught trout after trout on a well placed Sulphur imitation. I found that when I cast upstream of the rises, I’d do a mend that made the fly “skitter” a bit on the surface before sitting upright. In most cases, the trout would grab the fly right after the mend. I saw a lot of explosive rises with trout coming out of the water to take the fly. If you’re reading this and headed to the Gunpowder soon, take some Sulphur imitations!
2 thoughts on “Spring Fly Fishing on the Gunpowder River, Maryland”
Nice job on the surface-feeding brown from 30 feet away! Landing fish like that is what keeps us coming back. I’m glad to hear the Gunpowder is fishing better. I’ve had no luck there my two trips so far this year. Granted it was in January and February and one of the days the temps didn’t get out of single digits.
I hope you’ll post some more about Morgan Run. I pulled a decent rainbow out of there in March but I’m not too familiar with the waters there and have only been twice now.
Do you ever fish the Savage River? I’m heading up there in the morning. I’ve hooked a monster there my last two trips but he’s gotten the better of me both times. Maybe tomorrow will be my day.
Keep posting. I love hearing trip reports!
Thanks for your support! It’s definitely not every day to have an experience like that. Reminds me of western US fly fishing. I’m lucky if I’m casting 15 feet most days.
If you head out to the Gunpowder sometime soon, take some sulphur dries, and focus on the slow water. It doesn’t always look promising, but that’s where I was having all my success aside from one tail out from a pool. I had one strike on a nymph and it wasn’t much to speak of.
I always have luck on morgan run upstream and downstream of the klee mill road section. I’ve only caught a handful up in the boulders section, but a lot of people tell me they have a lot of success up there. The brown I caught on a dry was in that shallow flat water just south of the bridge.
I haven’t fished the Savage yet, because it’s about a 3 hour drive for me. Everybody keeps talking about it, so I think I’ll have to make the trip one day. Sounds like you know where that fish lives. I think I had the same fish evade me 2 or 3 times before I landed it. It was a brown that lived in a trickle of a stream in MA. I think a lot of fish stay close to their homes. Good luck and let me know if you grab a pic of that monster!