As the sun pushed higher into the sky after a week of heavy rain, I knew that I had to take advantage of any warm day as an opportunity to get out fishing. From prior experience with fishing after heavy rains in this area, I knew that everything would be blown out except for those places in the immediate discharge channel from the various Dams in the area. In my mind, smallmouth season was over, so that shifted my focus back to trout.
I concluded that it was time to check out some new areas on the Gunpowder River. Earlier, I had driven up to the Masemore access point on the Gunpowder just to take a look. Today, I headed there with the intent of fishing. The parking area was clogged, as usual, with hikers and kayakers but I only saw one other individual fishing in the river. As a result of the rain, the release from the dam was stronger than usual and the water was running full and fast.
I chose to walk upstream on the small trail that hangs desperately on the steep hill paralleling the southern bank. Once I saw the other fisherman, I stopped and asked whether he was going up or downstream as he was their first. He indicated he was fishing back to the parking lot and that he had picked up a few hits on streamers. So I moved another half mile upstream to begin my day. I entered the river at the bend and instantly fell back into trout mode. The water was sparkling clean without any vegetation clogging the river — something that had become a source of constant frustration on the Potomac and the Rappahannock as the summer to dwindled into fall.
With no hatch in progress and leveraging what the other guy told me regarding streamers, I rigged up a woolly bugger and began to flip that into the strong current. The river is narrow here and that made the requirement for stealth obvious and compelling. I tried to move gently upstream as I threw quartering casts to the far bank; quickly pulling in the line as the bugger drifted rapidly downstream. No hits, no joy. I switched to a hare’s ear with a small Copper John dropper and began to repeat the process. Still nothing.
I continued to fish my way upstream and was happy to see that it was easy to wade over the smooth, rocky bottom. Given the strength of the flow after the rains, I was glad that I had my wading staff for additional leverage. I continued to fish until I could see the distant bridge that marks the start of the Prettyboy section. Even though I was skunked, I decided to call it a day and head back to the parking lot. At least the weather was perfect and the scenery was fantastic. It was great to see the sun wrapping the remaining fall leaves in light and putting a sparkle on the water.
Bottom Line: I continue to be a fan of the Gunpowder other than the heavily pressured Prettyboy section. Given that I am confined to fishing this water on weekends, I know that I need to expect to see other people on the river. But up in the Prettyboy section, it gets pretty ridiculous at times. From talking to other folks, the best time to fish Prettyboy as well as the rest of the catch and release area of the Gunpowder is during the week when the crowds of evaporate. That’s not to be for me, but as long as Prettyboy attracts all the interest, the other access points, like this one, remain a good target for a day of fishing.
Getting There: Head north on 83 and get off at exit 27 for Mt Carmel. Head West over I83 and you will see the turn for Masemore Road on the right. It comes up quick and is a small road. It will wind its way back to the river – there are some one lane sections.
Google Local Coordinates: 39.61111,-76.682682
Secrets Revealed? No. This is a very public location that is documented in the following places:
Date Fished: 10/25/2009
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Immediately upstream of the bridge
Upstream from the entry point
Nice flow, small river… easy to work the entire area
The chute up to the Prettyboy bridge
Can’t complain about getting skunked when the weather is like this
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore