Even with all the public information on places to go, there is sometimes doubt and confusion about exactly where to go, how to get access and where to park. The various State DNR sites are great sources of information – I know I rarely go back to the same place for trout twice in a season since there are so, so many different choices. Geez.. just work thru Coburn’s great book on Maryland Catch and Release streams and you can stay busy for several seasons!
But, even with this, I would like a little more info on some of these places before I invest the time and gas to get there. One approach I have found works great is to just go look at the various websites that advocate other water sports like kayaking and canoeing. I mentioned this in as an approach in my article on how to do a map recon to locate fishable water. Here’s more detail.
Since the normal viewers/participants in kayak and canoe sites are not interested in protecting anything, they are very open with where to put in and where to take out. Each of these locations becomes a point of entry to the water and an opportunity for the fisherman. You know that there will be some kind of public access there – with at least a small parking area – or a tolerant landowner. Also, folks that do kayaking and canoeing do not really enjoy getting out of their boat and dragging it across rocks – they like water that is deep enough to keep them afloat. Based on that, if the water is deep enough to kayak, it’s deep enough to fish. In this particular very dry summer, that’s an important characteristic! The fish will hold where it is deeper just to get out of the heat. Knowing where the whitewater or canoe guys go is the ticket to find those portions of a river that are robust and probably good fishing.
In addition to the access information, you also get a synopsis of the water. For example, here is the description from American Whitewater on the Barnum to Bloomington stretch –
“This section of the North Branch Potomac has fairly continuous whitewater consisting of primarily open Class II-III rapids with waves and holes. The water is cold, however, because it is usually drawn from deep in the reservoir. Be prepared for 50-55 degree water anytime of year. Short pools break up the rapids. One-third of the way through the run is a nice series of surfing ledges. The lunchstop, where a steep wall forms on river right, has another nice playhole…..etc…..
…. There is now an official public take-out at Bloomington, at the wastewater treatment plant, upstream left, just above the arch railroad bridge. Get there by driving west and uphill from the Savage River on Rte 135, over the railroad to the first left. Across from the school, take the next left downhill to the access. Once again, we emphasize model behavior (slow driving, no public nudity), as we will be creating traffic in a residential neighborhood. On the other hand, we can make some friends by patronizing the little restaurant in town (and by the way, don’t forget the teensy snack and bait shop in Barnum too). As for using the traditional take-out at the mouth of the Savage: that is still OK, too. Just remember: the popular parking lot at the take-out, in front of the two-story brick building, is on private property. Please take care not to block the driveway (even just to unload for a minute), change clothes in the open, or do anything else to offend the tolerant owner, or the caretaker who lives out back in the trailer (where we have no business being). Poor behavior by some in 1997 almost cost us the use of the lot. So be on your best behavior and watch over the other guy too.”
American Whitewater is a great site – many of the spots have photos and a link to a topo map that shows the water between the put in and take out. It will have a minimum suggested gauge reading and a max as well as show the current flow as measured by the USGS. The photo are great for a little visual recon of what to expect before you invest a three hour drive to get there.
Bottom line: There are more places you can go to discover fishing spots than just fishing sites.
Coastal Canoeists has a huge list of paddling links off their website.
Follow this link and scroll down
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore