Smallies! Love 'em
When the trout die out or go to ground in the heat of summer, switch to smallies. That's my rule from here on out. With that in mind, I've started to look for more places that advertise smallies. In the process, I discovered that the Patapsco has a special section designated as catch and release for bass. Sounds like a good spot to look for smallies!
After parking in the well marked lot next to the bridge, I geared up and walked down the rail bed to get to the start of the catch and release section which is clearly marked by the huge bridge that supports I70. There is a great looking hole right under the bridge! I loaded up on poppers and terrestrials and pounded the dead tree that reaches out into the middle of the pool. No luck. Well... it was late December. Obviously, these guys want something bumped along the bottom.
I popped back out of the river and walked south so I could do a full visual recon of the river. In November, I fished just above here in the Daniels area and noted that it was much easier wading than the first time I visited this location early in the year. December brings up the tail end of a pretty tough summer of drought. I could see the impact here as well. The clear water, so clear that you could count rocks on the bottom, ran across long, shallow sections revealing a featureless bottom offering no cover and concealment for any type of fish.
The limited structure consisted of a few rocks poking weakly out of the water as well as some undercut banks where the river made its turns. Most of the river in this section was broad and featureless. From the train tracks, you can see exactly where the good, deep spots are. The bad news is that if you walk down the tracks, you will have a problem getting back to the river. The bank is very steep and only offers a few places where you can crawl down and put your rod into operation. The eastern bank has a nice trail and is a better choice to walk, target a spot and fish it.
From my observations, most of the deeper water hugs the railroad side, dictating an attack from the east rather than trying to fish directly up or downstream. I spent most of my short time here in "recon" mode and only fished some of the more likely looking spots by drifting nymphs along the bottom. My short investment of time resulted in an equally short discussion of success. Not even a bluegill was moving on this chilly day.
Remember to refer to my rating explanations - these are based on what I look for - so RED for Physical Fitness translates to easy physically - you do not need to be in shape to fish this section. I prefer terrain that is tough to get into and out of.
I'm just not sure about the Patapsco at this point. It is a broad, nice river that does enjoy its share of stockings. However, the DNR does caution that the trout die off as the water warms. All I can do is hope that the smallies have not been cleaned out by human, animal or climate.
Bottom line: The fish have to be here. It's worth a return trip.
Getting There: From I695, take the Security Blvd (Exit 17) westbound. Turn left on North Rolling Road and take the next right on Fairbrook road. Go about a mile and turn left on Johnnycake Road. Follow Johnnycake until it deadends into Hollowfield Road. Turn left and follow it over the bridge. The parking area is on the left right before you get to the railroad tracks.