Early March. Itch to fish is overwhelming. Dick and I struck out to the upper part of Maryland at the end of the closure period. We spent the first part of this day on the upper part of 15 mile creek. The crowds up there were staggering. Every turnout full, folks all over the river. We worked that area for most of the morning and then decided we needed to look for a more remote place and just hope for a fish or three.
I had already done a map recon and focused on where roads would snuggle up to the creek to allow stocking to occur. I don’t want folks to start to think that I am fixated on following the stock truck. Rather, most of these Maryland streams do not hold fish beyond the hot summer months. So, if you go too soon, there will not be any fish in the water at all. In fact, I wish the Maryland and Virginia DNRs would just recognize this and stock smallies. Those tough critters love warm water and give much more of a fight than any trout. But… enough for that diversion.
We ran up to Exit 64, got off heading south and immediately bumped onto a dirt road. This is 4×4 country. While you can probably bounce down this road in a Ford Taurus or any other car you don’t really care about, the best way to penetrate is with a bit higher ground clearance. The road swings down to the river and a flock of “posted” signs. We were across the river from the group I commented on in the upper 15 mile creek posting.
From there, the road turns sharply north and goes all the way back up to the interstate. Stay south. It turns into a hardball for a few hundred yards and then dives back into the forest as a dirt road. We followed this until the stream rose out of the trees on our right. Good looking water! We drove to the end where the road takes another sharp turn north and leaves the water. At this point, there is a wide spot in the creek that forms a lake. Given the opening for fishing after a decent stocking, the lake was ringed with folks perched on lawn chairs floating bait (legal here – I have no problem with that).
Dick and I had a choice to make. Go home or fish here. Obviously, we fished. We did make the wrong decision. We drove back upstream about 100 yards to park at an old shack and then fished upstream. We should have parked at the campground with the crowd and fished downstream. Since this trip, I learned that stocked fish are more likely to drift downstream than up.
Not knowing that, we hit the river north of the campground. I was immediately impressed by the quality of the water and the scenery here. It was a stark contrast to the upper section. In this area, it was canyon-like with sheer cliff faces thrusting out of the northern bank with high hills protecting the southern approach. Nice.
We started to walk upstream. There is a broad, shallow pool you should skip and then start fishing just above it. At this point there is a bend in the creek with a deep hole. Another guy was parked at the tailwater, so I went to the head of the pool about 50 yards upstream and worked the entrance with a wooly bugger. BANG. Fish on! A nice rainbow had found it’s way upstream. There may be more there.
Dick skipped around me and fished the next large pool and reported seeing a number of fingerling sized fish. Either those are sculpins or the young of the year – probably smallies. I did not catch anything else in the first hole, so I skipped around Dick and began to work upstream – more in “recon” mode than anything else.
In general, the creek in this section is very wide – up to 60 feet in places. It is mostly shallow. You need to walk to the bends or along the bank paying attention to the water to look for the deep spots. The bottom is rocky, which should mean there is plenty of forage in the water to support a fish population. The only downside to this water for trout is the summer warmth.
I fished a few good looking spots with neither luck nor skill. With only about 30 minutes left before I had to turn for the truck, I walked upstream to see how far I could get and what was up there. I was stunned to see a huge lake where the creek spread out in a deep area. The water depth here ranged up to 10 or more feet judging from the deep color of green in spots. It stretched for a good 100 yards. Later, I returned to the map and saw that this is actually a named feature – Long Pond. There have to be fish in here. If smallies were to get in here, they could live a happy life.
I did not have time to test that theory. It is left to another day, another time to put it to the test
Bottom Line: While the upper part of 15 mile creek is hammered as it is all next to the road, the middle section proves once again that if you are willing to sweat a bit and walk, you can have some solitude. I’ll bet there are fish in this stretch, we really did not have much time and only were able to spend 2 hours fishing here.
I’ll go back to this one after the next stocking run.
Getting There: From I68, take exit 64 south. Follow the hardball past the turn to the park headquarters. It will turn into a dirt road. Follow it.
Secrets Revealed? No. This is a very public location that is documented in the following places: Maryland DNR (Google) and the DNR Stocking Table.
Above the riffles is usually deep enough to fish
The spot where I hit my fish
The Long Pond
Much of the creek here looks like this. Shallow and compressed
The bends shelter pools
and then more shallow and compressed
Dick working a good hole
We parked by this shack and walked upstream.
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore