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Trout Hike - Town Creek North Section (MD)

Monday, November 20, 2006

My brother Dave and I headed out to hit western Maryland at the end of October.  I had been wanting to visit Town Creek for months, but read on the DNR website and in the book, Guide to Maryland Trout Fishing (by Gelso and Coburn), that Town Creek becomes a dead zone for trout as a result of heat.  In fact, Gelso states that the water here gets into the 80s in the middle of summer - a no go for trout survival.  Given that, I waited for the DNR to post a stocking report.  In early October, Town Creek was refreshed with around 500 trout and I began to plan my trip.

This section is delayed harvest from October 1 through June 15, artificial lures only.  Since it was freshly stocked, we felt like we had a chance to find some of these guys.  This was the first time Dave was going to try his fly fishing rig that he purchased two years ago and had never used as a result of the combined pressures of being on active duty in the Army and dealing with the decidely non-outdoors oriented requirements of a wife and 3 daughters.  The drive up from the DC area was uneventful, no real issues in getting here.  We decided to work the upper area first and revert to the lower area if there was time or the upper area was not productive.

There is limited parking at the ford that marks the start of the upper area.  Instead of going across the ford, you can drive in another 25 yards to where a tree blocks the road and park there.  Go ahead and wade across the river here as the left bank is very, very steep and does not support walking. This is the side of the river that is deep - so you cannot wade there either.

We started fishing about 50 yards up from the truck.  The water was a crispy 48 degrees and the air temp was a little less than that.  The creek had an average depth of about 1.5 feet on the day we were there.

Within 5 minutes, Dave had caught his first fish ever on the fly gear!  It was a nice smallie and I documented the achievement in the picture below.  He was using a big hairy looking fly with sparkles in it that the Angler's Lie had recommended.  I walked farther upstream to give him plenty of space and began fishing with my Panther Martins, Rapala Trout Floaters, and I rolled out an old favorite that I had not used since fishing the Black Canyon in Colorado - the Blue Fox Vibrax.  Immediately, I was in deep trouble.

The day we were here, October 28, was obviously late in the fall.  The leaves were falling and every leaf in Maryland decided to float down the creek.  For the first time, I discovered that I needed to learn fly fishing.  Spinning was an absolute no go.  There were so many leaves in the water that only 1 out of 4 casts would come back clean.  Not only would the hooks catch on the leaves floating at random depths, but they would snag on the line and follow it down to the lure.  I did catch some trout and smallies, but it became a matter of luck if the fish would grab the spinner before it hit a leaf.

Dave, on the other hand, continued to have good luck until he lost his two special flies in various trees.  When we broke for lunch, I realized that I had some trout magnets in my pack and I gave them to him.  He was able to pick up some fish with them, but nothing like the success he was having with the flies. 

As you can see from the map, we worked our way up to the bend and then fished around it.  As expected, the water runs deeper where the river cuts a turn (no secrets there).  Since Dave was sucking eggs as a result of the fly issue, we decided to head down to the lower catch and release area (I'll write that up later) and see whether his other flies or the magnets would work better down there.  After all, when a place is stocked, you don't really know where they have dumped the fish - maybe we were fishing in the sparsely populated area.

Instead of following the bank back, we cut across a large open field.  Probably a good idea as this was deer season and we would present a more obvious human profile than working back through the woods next to the river.

Pressure:  Very little trash, nobody else here.  Until I see what this looks like in the high season, I'll give this a thumbs up on pressure.

Physical Effort:  Not bad.  Easy walking, smooth creek floor, no wading staff required.  Just a little tough going back through the underbrush to get to the water.  I'd take a kid here and they would not have a problem getting to the water; just be sure they get across the creek safely.

The only other thing to comment on is the ford.  While we did see a number of vehicles charge across the ford, it's scary.  We waded across on the way back and the water was above my knees.  Not sure I would take my truck across out of fear that the water would get up the exhaust or get sucked up the air tube into the automatic transmission.  I've got a Ranger with the off road pack - it sits high, but there is no extra lift and, I'm basically chicken when it comes to getting stuck.  While I carry all the recovery equipment (HiLift Jack, cable, shackles, etc), I would rather spend time fishing that screwing around with jacking the truck out of a ditch or a stream.

Getting There:  The DNR site has good directions. "From I-68 take Route 51 South at Cumberland for about 18.5 miles to Lower Town Creek Road and turn left. Continue 2.5 miles on Lower Town Creek Road and turn right onto Maniford Road. Proceed to the State Forest parking area on the right. The Delayed Harvest Trout Fishing Area starts at a red post upstream of the parking area and continues downstream 1.75 miles to another red post. To access the upper area, continue on Lower Town Creek Road past Maniford Road about one mile to a low water crossing.

The lower boundary starts just upstream and is marked by a red post, and there is limited parking at this site. To access farther upstream, exercise extreme caution when fording the stream by vehicle. Continue 0.5 miles to a yellow pole gate on the left, park and walk to the stream. Red posts mark the boundaries of both Delayed Harvest Areas."

One additional note - The turn onto Town Creek road is abrupt and you will come up on it pretty quick.  If you are coming from the south, it will be a very hard right turn as the road hits Route 15 at a very acute angle.

Dave working across the river up from where we parked

Shot up the river (looking west) from where we started fishing

Looking east from the start point.

If you skip around the first part, you will have to bushwack through thick underbrush like this to get back to the river

Five minutes into the first fly fishing of his life and Dave caught a nice smallie

Plenty of smallies - they don't mind the warmer water in the summer

Geez.  Fix this place up and you would have a great weekend camp on a nice body of water!

View upstream just east of the big bend.

There were trout here - on the rare unsnagged spinner retrieve, I caught a few.

Picture of the ford.  Be very careful and stay to the left of the break

 Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore

Disclaimer and Warning:  The contents of this site reflect the opinion of the author and you, the reader, must exercise care in the use and interpretation of this information.  Fishing is a dangerous sport.  You can slip and fall on rocks and sustain severe injury.  You can drown.  You can get hooks caught in your skin, face, eyes or other sensitive places.  All sorts of bad things can happen to you when to go into the woods to visit the places documented here.  Forests, streams and lakes are wild areas and any number of bad things can happen.  You must make your own judgment in terms of acceptable behavior and risk and not rely on anything posted here.  Calibrated Consulting, Inc disclaims all liability and responsibility for any actions you take as a result of reading the articles on this site.  If you do not agree with this, you should not read anything posted on this site.

Finally, access points may be different or restricted based on changes in property ownership since posting the original article.  It is up to you to make sure you are fishing where it is legal.

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