Low Water on The Gunpowder – Think Smaller!

Low water turns the riverbed into heat-sink for the Gunpowder.

While flows on the Big Gunpowder Falls are abysmally low, smaller streams in the area are looking nice and full for July. Exposed rocks in the Big Gunpowder falls will raise temps below Masemore Rd. fast on hot sunny days while the Baltimore DPW has the valves cranked low. If you’re headed up to there to fish, focus your efforts above Falls Road to avoid tubers and give the fish down-stream a break while they’re under stress from the herons. I think even the tubers and canoeists will have a tough time with flows below 30cfs.

With that said, the Baltimore/DC regions  other streams are looking great for July. The Pax rivers are running a bit stained but there’s fishable water to be found around Savage Mill (a favorite of Micah’s for cloudy water smallies) as well as upstream in the other special regs areas. The brookie streams have more water than can usually be expected this time of year and anglers who brave the high grass with a short rod can find fish. We’ll be out tossing the 7-footers in the tiny creeks this week for sure. This is a great time to grab the swim trunks and a few Clouser Minnows to hit the Potomac and cool off. Early and late are going to be your best bets no matter where you go.

If you’re undecided about where to fish, give us a call this week!

There Are Days Like This


Sulfur Madness

 When the weather heats up in the Baltimore/DC region and the flows are down on the Big Gunpowder Falls, there’s nothing better than a little wet-wading. In the last week there have been a few days that feel like proper summer is on it’s way. Temps in the 80’s with high humidity got the sulfur hatch fired up and the action has been exciting! Now’s the time to call start using up those sick-days and get your feet wet. There’s a few openings on the guiding calender for May, get your name in on there fast!
Get out there and put a bend in that rod!

Report: It’s Like A Heatwave

Hooked Up

 Spring seems to be here to stay and so are the hatches.  Sunday’s outing provided plenty of sunshine and warm temps as well as mayflies and caddis. A mixed bag of insects keeps anglers busy changing flies but the action seems to continue throughout most of the day.  As the sun rose higher during the day, the hatches changed, turning on and off but there always seemed to be some surface action.  Forecasts for the week predict similar conditions and the fishing should be great. 80 degree weather feels pretty good!

Now’s the time to get on the calendar for an outing in June and there’s a few dates remaining open in May. If you’re headed out on your own, bring along some #14 elk hair caddis and a handful of #14 sulfur emergers. Snowshoe comparaduns are a favorite and float well in faster runs and tail-outs. Don’t forget lots of water and sunscreen!

Sunshine and Brown Trout

March Comes in Like Lamb…..

Last Friday I got a chance to take out some folks for Backwater Angler  and show them around on the Gunpowder. A few warm days got the fish excited before our outing and the stoneflies were keeping them busy in the slack-water and eddies. Friday was a little cooler and cloudier than it had been but any time I’m not shoveling snow in March, I’m not going to complain.

Theaux set us up with one of his 5pc Winston 4wts to try out (We brought it back in the original 5 pieces) and we had a great time putting it through its paces. With a few clouds overhead, the water temps flirted with 50 degrees, though it didn’t quite get there for us. Stoneflies and Blue Winged Olives provided the bulk of our action. The father and son duo were good company on the water and, as someone who treasures fishing-time with family, I had fun showing them around. They reminded me a lot of my brothers and I with some good laughs about casting and catching. We landed a few and, with the sunshine peeking out right at the end of the day, it felt like Spring was surely here. It reminds me that I need to put some days on the calender to fish with my own family.

(More below…)

Tight Lines in March

 If you’re headed out this week and weekend, check the weather and the gauges. This gauge has flows AND temps. When it heats up, fishing should be great. Pack some stoneflies, a few Hendricksons and a lunch – make a day of it! Don’t have flies or haven’t renewed your license yet this year? Swing by Backwater and talk to Theaux’s crew. There’s some gold out there (see photo below) and it’s hungry!

Tying your own flies? Knee Deep has some patterns for you. Check out our favorites for spring! Get signed up for the Knee Deep Fly Fishing Newsletter and keep up to date!

Keep your stick on the water!


March Gold

March Comes In Like A Stonefly

Wrapping up the weekend here at Knee Deep Headquarters, I’m reflecting on a busy few weeks. The Fly Fishing Show in Lancaster, PA was a great time and a god chance to catch up with old friends and make a lot of new ones. Putting faces with lots of names and shaking hands with folks you’ve only traded emails with makes the world a little smaller. As a newbie on the show circuit I was impressed with my fellow fly tiers who really made me feel welcome and supported. I couldn’t have done the show without my go-to instructor, and brother, Mark. One of these days he’ll give up on the 9 to 5 life and fish full time, I know it.

After that, I had a few days to recover and unpack, then I tagged along with my wife to London. While she was working hard, I made sure to eat everything in sight and stop in a lot of pubs along the way while touring the city. I didn’t get out of the city to explore fishing options but I sure feel like I can check off the major sights. I kept the staff of the hotel laughing as I asked for directions every morning. While I can appreciate a nice hotel, the concierge “dudes” were joking with me that I was like Crocodile Dundee. Big Ben, the Tower of London, the Prime Meridian…I saw it all. It was more tiring than a day on the water.

Sometimes Micah gets to fish!

Speaking of the water, I was out on Friday and things are warming up. The air temps are starting to turn around and the water temps can’t be far behind. The wind was cranking and, at a few points, casting had to be paused while the gusts made their way down the river. I was lucky enough to have a friend along who actually snapped a rare picture of me with a fish. I love showing people around my local haunts and Friday was full of good joking around and relaxing. We had a few minutes when the sun burned through the clouds and the wind paused long enough for the stoneflies to take off from the grass and make a large cloud over the river before being blow away again. If you’re headed out in the next week pack heavy streamers and stick them close to the banks. 4x fluorocarbon and a loop knot will get you deep and help you pull the fish out of the undercut banks that the winter’s high flows have carved out.

The April schedule is filling up fast. If you’ve been putting off booking an outing for spring,don’t wait. Time is flying by. If this week’s weather forecast is true we should see Spring really showing it’s colors around the Gunpowder. Give us a call or e-mail and we’ll help you use up those fresh 2012 sick days!


Don’t Get Stuck In The Cold

Often with winter comes broken fly rods and sad drive home from the river. No, we’re not talking about slip-n-falls onto your favorite rod (studded boots from Santa can fix that!) We’re talking about breaking rods with sections that won’t come apart.

Fishermen start their day in the cold and as the day warms up, their rod sections expand. It doesn’t take much but by the time you call it quits your favorite fly-rod seems impossibly joined in a single piece. Many anglers grit their teeth and pull at the fragile sections in an attempt to free them and snap their rods in the process. I’ve seen it happen many times and it’s sad to watch someone snap their rod in a parking lot all while trying to put it away safely in a case.

I had just such a day last week after hitting the river with 26 degree air temps and wrapping up with temps in the 40’s. When I packed up my waders and vest and attempted to put my fly-rod in its case I was met with an immovable rod section on my favorite custom rod. I safely stored the rod in my truck where nothing could harm it (racks on the inside of the vehicle are worth their weight in gold!) and decided I’d give it a try at home. The front or rear dashboard of most cars will accommodate half a fly-rod.

Un-sticking a rod at home is easier than in the field. You’re hands are warm and you have resources at your disposal. The goal is to cool the rod-blank enough to shrink it and have the sections come apart with a minimal amount of twisting and gripping. In my most recent case of a stuck rod, I was able to simply lay my rod on the kitchen counter while running cold tap-water over the ferrules (the male and female pieces that connect the rod) while I unpacked the rest of my gear. On my first attempt to free the sections I failed. I placed it back under the running water, cracked open a cold beer and washed my wading gear off….then tried again with blood-pressure-reducing success!

What if you’re not headed home and your rod MUST be stowed in the case? Hit the first aid kit! Those ice packs aren’t just good for cooling down an emergency beer at the campground. Place the rod ferrules on a wet rag or towel with the ice-pack on top. Let it sit as long as you can stand while the rod sections cool down. Ten minutes or so should be enough though there is a “but” here; if it doesn’t budge, don’t muscle it, give it more time to cool off and try again.

Above all, don’t wrench your rod apart by holding the guides; they’ll give before anything else. For more twist free pulling power, hold the rod sections with your forearms around your knees. Using your knees to push your grip open will allow you to pull the rod without a twist. Stay calm when you’re rod sticks and put it in the car to deal with at home when you’re not tired from fishing all day or all night. Cooler heads and hands are much better at unsticking a rod.

Cold, High and A Little Fishy

December Fog


After all the Thanksgiving turkey, the family has cast off again and things quiet down, it’s nice to escape the house and get a line wet. This fall’s conditions have been erratic and fishing has been different every day. Today I hit the water just after 7:00am and was greeted by 26 degree air temps and water near 50 degrees creating a quiet fog on the water. The scene was quite different than July and August’s foggy days on the water when the air and water temperatures were reversed!

Focusing on seams in the high stained water produced fish this week and a mix of nymphs and streamers was the ticket. Fishing a tandem rig with lots of weight will get your flies to the bottom fast and with one fly higher allow you to cover the water column. If you’re not bouncing the bottom every few casts, you may not be getting deep enough.

Winter fishing brings its own special challenges like cold hands and iced up guides on your rod. If your guides freeze up while casting, dip your rod below the surface for a few seconds and the warmer temperature water will take care of the ice. Don’t try to pop the ice chunks out with your fingers. That’s a surefire way to break your rod. Good wool gloves will keep your hands warm and wearing lots of layers will ensure your core stays warm and there’s plenty of warm blood pumping to your finger-tips. If your gloves get wet you can slap them against your waders or jacket to shake the water out. Even wet, wool will continue to keep you warmer than no gloves at all.

Not sure how to outfit yourself to make the most of winter’s short days? Give Knee Deep Fly Fishing a call, we fill you in on how to layer up and keep warm.

In Time for Halloween

Sometimes you hit the river expecting to see certain conditions and arrive to a completely different game. Monday’s outing was exactly that. I left the house expecting sparse clouds and hatches but arrived to sunshine and only a brief appearance of tricos in the AM and a dry windy afternoon.

I was joined by Trent Jones, fishing manager at the Bethesda, MD Orvis store, and we had a great time watching the trico’s blow off into the woods when we arrived. The Gunpowder was still running high from recent storms but was clear and fishable. The insect showing was a mixed bag of tricos, caddis, and “rusty” mayflies. We had a great time exploring the higher flows and still shifting riverbed after the larger storms we’d seen in recent weeks.

After parting ways with Jones, I spent some time hunting bugs in the river and snapping a few photos. The afternoon’s fading light made taking pictures a challenge but I found enough caddis and a few stoneflies to keep me entertained for some time. After what I found taking samples, I’d put my money on caddis pupe all winter long in green and light tan. Despite receiving a thorough scouring the riverbed still holds enough detritus to hide a lot of large stoneflies and I nabbed a beautiful shot of a nice big golden stone.

 After arriving home I was greeted by not one but two praying mantis on back porch. Since I’d spent the afternoon taking photos of insects I was ready for the situation at hand. Sometimes it’s all about being in the right place at the right time.

With flows still above 150cfs there’s lots of water to spread the fish around. If you’re headed out this weekend be sure and look before you leap; often fish will be holding in areas where there was previously very little water. The weather looks perfect for some fishing and family time outdoors. Be sure and bring some tricos for the AM and some tan caddis for the afternoon.  See you on the water!