Since we were already there to fish the Upper Potomac, I reserved the last hour or so of the day to do a quick run up the Monocacy River. This will not be a very extensive discussion because, quite frankly, there’s really nothing to discuss. From reading other postings on the Internet, I know there are better sections and will need to work upstream to discover them.
As I mentioned in the post on the Upper Potomac, I chatted with a few other fishermen before we launched the canoe. In addition to discussing the possibilities on the Upper Potomac, I queried them on their experience moving upriver on the Monocacy. The consistent opinion was that there would be very few smallmouth upriver and those that would be found would be scattered in a few deep holes that would require extensive reconnaissance to uncover. Now, that could have been a coded answer to protect a favorite fishing place, but I got the sense that I was getting an accurate assessment that this just was not a good fishing river. There may be other species up here that would be worth pursuing, but probably not smallmouth.
Part of the reason I believe I was getting the straight story was the environment of the river itself. The bottom is nothing but sand in the short stretch that I visited. Granted, there may be a boulder or two mixed in, but no bottom vegetation to provide good holding areas for bass. There is nothing to anchor a hard fighting smallie to any particular area. Having learned the hard way that a sandy, barren bottom is the same to a smallmouth as a desert is to us, I knew we would not encounter much as I kicked the trolling motor into gear and motored upstream.
The deeper parts of the short stretch that I visited is on the northern bank. The steep bank has a few trees that lean over into the river to provide a bit of shade for the fish over a few 4 to 5 foot deep spots. If you’re interested in panfish, it’s certainly worth fishing those spots. Moving upstream to the bridge, the next deep spot was under the bridge itself. It looked deep enough to hold something other than a panfish, but it was not productive to us. By this time, I had pretty much lost motivation to do further exploration of the river. We moved a little bit farther around the bend just to be able to see what was up river. The glare of the sandy bottom punched through the flat expanse in front of me and confirmed that moving further upstream would not reveal anything different than what we had already seen.
When I returned home, I did some quick research on the Internet and discovered that the Monocacy is regarded as a polluted river as a result of farming and livestock operations. The barren bottom may be an indication of the severity of that pollution in the lower section.
Bottom Line: While there may be a better fishing spot upstream, the area within a half mile of the boat launch is nothing but dead water. I can assure you that, over time, I’ll find those better sections and let you know where they are.
Getting There: Take exit 22 from I270 and head west on MD109 (Old Hundred Road). Turn right on Barnesville Road. Turn left on MD95 (Mt Ephraim Road). Turn right on Monocacy Road and follow it to the park. Take the right fork, once in the park, to get to the boat launch.
Google Local Coordinates: 39.224607,-77.44945
Secrets Revealed? No. This is a very public location that is documented on the Maryland DNR
Date Fished: 07/12/2009
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Looking downstream back to the boat launch
Upstream from the bridge – see the shine of the sandy bottom?
The bridge shelters the rare deep spot
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore