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Trout Hike - Gunpowder (Prettyboy Dam)
Monday, September 18, 2006

The Gunpowder gets great press - much of it because of the Prettyboy section at the upper end. After visiting this stretch of the Gunpowder, I simply do not get it.  This section has a huge amount of pressure - it's not possible to overstate the pressure on a weekend - there had to be 50 other fishermen beating this river when I traveled up to check this out.. 

While it is scenic, it is definitely not remote and you will get to enjoy your day with a "friend" every 25 yards if you go on a weekend.

We pulled in around 8:00 or so on the Monday of Labor Day weekend.  Getting there was easy - just a few turns off  I83 as discussed to the right.  As we drove up Falls Road. we passed a fairly large parking area on the left.  Knowing that we were still a distance from the river, I wondered out loud to Chris - "what are all these people doing - hiking?".  Must have been 15 cars stacked up in that lot.  We headed on down to the river and, first clue, had a hard time finding a parking place in the lot next to the river.  We geared up and headed down the well marked trail that cuts to the river (you can also walk down the road and join the river at a slightly different place). 

The terrain looked great - tall trees kept the area cool even though the sun was out and blazing.  It's a well marked trail - not too hard in terms of walking.  With every step, we anticipated rolling up on the river, hitting the promised pools and enjoying the ice cold water running across the waders - only to be tragically disappointed when we immediately ran into other fishermen.  No big deal - maybe these are the lazy guys that always fish next to the lot.  So we started working our way up the river towards the dam.  At every good spot (heck, at any spot), we would pop out of the brush to start fishing, look to the right or left, and see one or more other guys already there.

There are plenty of scenic areas as you can see from the pictures below.  The water was crystal clear and bone-chillingly cold.  The mercury in my stream thermometer had a tough time getting to 50 degrees.  It's perfect trout water - and that must be the draw for so many other fishermen.

Being polite, we would immediately leave in search of open water.  It worked this way all the way up to the dam.  One other fisherman was leaving the river and and asked him if he was working up or downstream.  With a smile, he said "I conceed the river upstream to you".  What an empty gesture :-) This place was packed!  Granted, it is a C&R section, so the fish are still theoretically there, but can you imagine the intense amount of pressure that they must be put under?  This really, really sucks.  You drive an hour or two to get here, walk 1.5 miles and never get out of site of other guys.

I guess some people are not a sensitive to what defines a good fishing experience - to me, if I see more than a few other people and particularily if I have to fish around more than a few, I conclude that the river is too crowded - not remote enough - and go look for another place where another 15 - 20 minutes of walking will put the maddening crowd behind.

Every fisherman in Baltimore had to be here this day.  Not too say they were not polite - most fisherman are traditionally pleasant.  Of course, we only chatted with those who were on the bank and not actively fishing.  They indicated that the crowd was pretty normal.  I did not question their sanity in fishing in such a packed area - makes NO sense to me. 

Geez.  Totally overfished on the weekend.  So - Do not go here!  The fish are pounded.  You will not have a good fishing experience - I can't tell you how disappointed I was.

Oh, the other parking area?  Turns out that that is another fisherman access point.  By parking at the upper area, you can walk down to the bend in the river and the work directly up to the dam to enjoy fishing with 10 other guys standing around the tailwater.

DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME HERE ON WEEKENDS. Some folks have told me that this is a quite setting during the week - so if you fish this, go then.

Getting There:  Head north on 83 and get off at exit 27 for Mt Carmel. Head West over I83.  Go about a mile and turn right on Evna Road.  It will deadend into Falls Road (turn right) which you will follow to the river.  You can park at either lot and walk down to the river.


The lower parking lot - packed. Don't get excited by the one empty spot you see here - we just pulled out of that and there was another car ready to pull in.


Headed down to the river - this was typical.  People stacked on top of other people

Another pretty area - of course - already occupied

This section of the Gunpowder is not flat like the others - there are rapids and pools to target and which just have to hold fish

Typical section up by the dam

The river is much narrower in this section than down below in the Blue Mount or Monkton sections.

Guys fishing everywhere - I saw plenty of fishin', not much catchin'

We got up to the dam only to run into another horde of people

 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.  I disclaim 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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