…photos are at the bottom!
I took a ride around the north end of DC to Mongomery/Howard County to fish the Patuxent River. With the whole day to myself, I took the scenic route. This brought me past the Brighton Dam area, which I hadn’t fished since last season, so I decided to pull in and check it out. To my surprise, a stocking truck pulled up and a few volunteers helped toss buckets of fish into the river. It was nice to see fish going in there as it’s a great chunk of catch and release water for the new angler to cut their teeth on. It’s worth checking out after work on a weekday; just don’t stay too late and get locked in by the park staff!
A short run in the truck took me upriver to the Howard’s Chapel Rd crossing and I fished upstream almost to Hipsley Mill Rd. The early spring was giving the rose bushes a head start – I can’t wait to see how my waders hold up on the cold Gunpowder after this run – and the terrestrials too. I didn’t see many of the river’s crayfish but there were Japanese beetles and enough caddis to get me to prospect with an Elk Hair Caddis. I turned over a few rocks and found big mayflies, caddis and scuds in the riffles. I got a chance to watch from a high carved bank as two fish picked their lunch from the current below me and fed on the surface as well as sub-surface while I enjoyed a cigar from our pals over at W. Curtis Draper Tobacconists. Most of my hits and misses came on tan buggers and crayfish patterns despite the fish watch for smaller forage.
If you’re looking to explore this stream that’s right in our backyards, travel light with a few attractor patterns and streamers. If you’ve got some small hand pruners, save yourself some stress and a few scrapes, by tossing them in your wader pouch. Bring a camera to catch the birds and flowers that are popping up a couple weeks behind the city. Cast to the under-cut banks and downfalls and you’ll find lots of fish. Take your time and observe. You’ll be surprised what you discover. I left a few flies in the trees for you! – Micah
After Maryland’s big push to get anglers to buy new boots and ditch their felt soles (link here!) in the name of preventing the spread of “Rock Snot” It seems they’ve not done their homework when it comes to their fish suppliers. From the Maryland DNR’s own site, they report on the issue briefly and discuss plans to expand their own hatchery operations. Article here.
All of this brings up the idea that they could save a few headaches and money, something all government agencies are worried about lately, by creating more catch and release water in the state. As a teenager in NJ I got to see, first hand, as a large section of a local stream was converted to catch and release. Attention from caring anglers and other wildlife lovers increased and efforts to sure-up streambanks and trash clean-ups were instituted. The river today still has it’s problems but less trash and more fish still has me dreaming of the town I left almost 10 years ago. Simply, it was a beautiful stream filled with wild fish!
I’m sure I’ll make some enemies by saying that I support conservation efforts that lean towards catch and release streams as our region becomes more heavily populated and pressure on our resources increases. This isn’t news to people who know me. I spent my weekend at my part-time gig teaching the “Fly Fishing 101” class at my local Orvis store and the idea of “catching fish to eat” inevitably came up. It’s a common thought with anglers new to fly fishing and I find myself defending catch and release regularly. To my excellent student I said “if we all kept them, there wouldn’t be any fish left” and the discussion seemed to end at a pleasant stalemate.I hear a lot of anglers say “I went fishing a few times but I didn’t catch anything…” when asked about their previous experiences. Some of that may have to do with the trout out-smarting the fishermen but I have to think that in some circumstances a healthier population of fish could have helped. With all the streams in the immediate metro area and beyond, I can’t help but imagine rivers where the focus is on total-stream-health and not putting fish on someones plate. I understand that it takes generations to change a population’s mode of thinking but at some point we all need to change. Introducing problems like Dydimo and Whirling Disease happens by many different means. It’s not JUST felt soles of fishermen. As we can see, even the agencies that are supposed to be looking out for us can screw up and transport these sort of aquatic illnesses.
Have you ever eaten one of those Purina fed stocked trout? They taste horrible!