If the weekend weather forecast holds up, and the January thaw begins to arrive, anglers can expect to cash in on winter fishing for trout at Gunpowder Falls and along the Patapsco River.
"The hard-core angler gets a bit of cabin fever at this time of year, and just as soon as you get a few warm days they tend to get really itchy to get out," said Charles R. Gougeon, central region manager for DNR's Fisheries Service. "And, I have to admit, I'm one who gets itchy, too."
But, said Gougeon, mid-winter trout fishing along the Gunpowder and Patapsco is "totally different" than during most of the year, when anglers tend to get a jump on the day and hit the rivers before first light.
"This time of year you want to get on the warmest days and in the heat of the day, say from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.," said Gougeon. "At that time, water temperatures will come up a bit."
And as water temperatures rise, so does the activity level of trout and their natural food sources, especially in the 1.5 miles of the Gunpowder upstream from Falls Road to the Prettyboy Dam in Baltimore County.
"Trout feed year around, even in the coldest waters," said Gougeon. "But because the Gunpowder below the dam is a tailwater, the coldest it ever gets is about 39 degrees and the river is almost always ice free."
The relatively high water temperature, when increased by the sun, gives rise to black winter stone flies at the warmest part of the day, and anglers can match the hatch with either nymph forms or winged adults.
The best bet on the Gunpowder, Gougeon said, is midge fishing in stretches of the river closest to the Prettyboy Dam, "where it is sort of a midge fisherman's paradise."
Baltimore's Department of Public Works decided this week to switch to minimum flows from the Prettyboy Dam, which will lower water levels along the Gunpowder.
As a result, Gougeon said, "only the deepest pools will require chest waders and most of the river will be very fishable."
Two stretches of the Patapsco also are worth a close look by area anglers, Gougeon said, noting that in both there appear to be good numbers of trout left over from fall stockings.
Along the stretch from Daniels Dam to the I-70 bridge, Gougeon said, "you can fish to rising rainbows and browns on the warmest days."
Along the south branch of the Patapsco from Route 32 near Sykesville to its confluence with the north branch below Marriottsville Road, trout will feed heavily on winter stone flies and the fishing can be very good.
"These fish were stocked at 6 to 7 inches and have had a couple of months to grow," said Gougeon. "By now, since they have been feeding on natural foods, they should be very scrappy."
The stretch of the Gunpowder from Prettyboy Dam to Bluemount Road is a catch-and-return area limited to the use of artificial lures.
There is a two-fish-per-day limit on the Patapsco from the Daniels Dam to I-70. On the south branch from Route 32 downstream to the north branch, the limit is five per day.
"These warm spells take the edge off for the angler who has been sitting around tying flies and waiting for spring," Gougeon said.
Early trout stocking
Earlier this week, DNR stocked 28,000 trout in reservoirs, lakes and ponds in seven counties to relieve crowding caused by low water levels at hatcheries.
Trout stocked are 8 to 10 inches long and weigh about a third of a pound.
Area waters stocked are: Lake Waterford (1,000), Anne Arundel County; Prettyboy Reservoir (8,000), Baltimore County; Farm Museum Pond (1,300), Liberty Reservoir (8,000) and Piney Run Reservoir (1,300), Carroll County; Elkhorn Lake (1,300), Howard County.
Fly fishing show
The Fly Fishing Show will be held at the Reckord Armory on the University of Maryland College Park campus Saturday and Sunday. The show, which is exclusively for fly fishermen, contains the newest and best in tackle, gear and accessories.
There also will be a full schedule of seminars and special classes with expert tiers and casters.
Guides and outfitters, book and art dealers, rod builders and specialists in all areas of fly fishing also will be at the show.
Basic admission is $12 a day or $20 for both days. Special classes require additional fees and registration. For more information, call 1-800-420-7582.
Pub Date: 1/14/99