It had been a long time since I fished the Patapsco downstream of Ellicott city. The last time, I drove a significant distance along River Road and parked at the last turn out I could find. The water was clear, deep and it was challenging to find a place to wade. This time, I parked at the second turnout after veering onto River Road and walked down a broad trail to the sandy riverbed. As I rigged up, two pretty young ladies showed up, popped lawn chairs into the middle of the shallow river to sunbathe. Looking up!
After getting ready, I took a look around and realized that the river looked remarkably different than it had on my earlier visit. More rocks were showing. It looked awful shallow. Maybe this is just the way it was closer to the city. After one last look at the ladies, I headed downstream, fishing surface poppers and attracting plenty of attention from small sunfish. At the first deep spot I found (and It is relative to the rest of the river – only about 2 feet) I finally hooked a 10 inch smallmouth bass. So, they must be here.
I continued fishing downstream with no further bass action. After walking across a broad rocky beach, I flipped my nymph into a riffle and immediately was rewarded by a strong tug. I was totally surprised when I brought the fish to hand to discover I had caught a trout! This section is not stocked, so this guy had to migrate from many miles upstream. Although he was doomed to die in another week or two when the water warms up, I released him back to live a few more days.
Another quarter mile downstream, the mystery of the shallow water was solved. There’s sign hanging from a tree warning anyone who uses the river that further progress was prohibited since the dam had been removed. I took a look downstream and the water looked even shallower than what I had experienced so far. With that, I trudged back up my vehicle.
With a glance at my watch, I realized I had another half hour before I needed to leave. Therefore, I did a recon upstream and was startled to discover a remarkably different vista. The river lost the visible rocks in exchange for deep, almost unwadeable depth. This must be where the fish are! The good section stretched for approximately 100 yards, and maybe more. I’ll have to check that out on my next visit
Bottom Line: Don’t fish downstream. Stay close to the city.
Getting There: From 29 northbound, take exit 24A onto Rt 40 eastbound. Turn right at Rogers Ave and then left onto Rt 144. Follow it and turn right onto River Road (it is a Y intersection across from a small gas station where you can get a sandwich). Pull off and park anyplace that is legal along River Road.
Secrets Revealed? No. The Patapsco is a well known fishing river that is documented on the Maryland DNR website.
Date Fished: 06/17/2012Tell a friend about this article by clicking on this link
Downstream from parking
Upstream to the sunbathing spot
Broad rocky beach
Downstream to the old dam
Upstream into the nice area
The good water looks like it continues all the way to the riffle
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore