This is the first of a series of articles on my recent foray up to the Gunpowder. There are at least 4 distinct areas on the Gunpowder based on regulation and type of water.
Starting from the bottom, there is the general put and take area that starts below Corbin Road and extends on down. This particular trip was to the next area working north – the wild trout area that has a special regulation that limits the “take” to 2 fish per day. I started fishing this section right after lunch – hitting the river around 1230 or so. Since I parked at Blue Mount road, I fished my way downstream – not a good idea – not sure why I elected to do that instead of just walking in a mile or two and fishing upstream. As it went, it was a bad decision since the trout could see me coming.
The banks of this section are heavily overgrown and make it exceptionally difficult to leave the river and walk downstream. Instead, you should just walk the river. There is a “high speed” walk option in that the old railbed has been converted into a premier bike/running path. You can hop on this at Blue Mount and quickly move downstream to get on the proper orientation.
Granted, if you are a flyfisherman, you probably would work your way downstream so your line would not drift over the fish before your fly. So, take it either way.
Anyway, I was not impressed with this stretch of river. The water was very low and there were numerous shallow stretches between the deeper parts that would hold trout. Remember, this section is not stocked – it is a wild trout environment, so the only fish here are the ones that holdover.
I was working with my signature Panther Martins and Rapallas. I was catching small fish, but nothing big enough to even take a picture of. I can confirm that there are large fish in this river as I had two close encounters. On the first, I walked a portion of the bank that was barely negotiable and was sliding my way of it. I put my foot on a big grass clump that proceeded to sink into the water and a huge brown trout squirted out from underneath. Rats!
The second time was later in the day. I was working a great looking hole and on my first cast with a rapalla, it touched down with a slight splash. I gave it a twitch, and before I could even think, there was a huge white swirl as a massive brown bumped it, rejected it and disappeared forever.
The other aspect of this section is the tubers. Every half hour or so, a large group of tubers would float by doing what tubers do – drinking beer, making noise, etc. That’s not that bad as the fish calm down again very quickly – I caught fish within minutes of the tubers passing. The bad think is that they take forever to pass. They spread out over a hunderd yards and drift at the pace of the current – it is tubing, after all. On this day, the current was really slow, so it could take up to 30 minutes from the arrival of the first to the departure of the last and the ability to fish again – plenty of wasted time.
If I ever return to this stretch again, I will work my way up from the south – moving upstream – and cast parallel to the banks. To look at them, they do not look like substantial structure. However, when you get close, you can see that most of them are undercut and provide a great place for the fish to hold. There are a few downed trees and a few deep holes on the river, but not much else.
T he depth on the day I was there ranged from an inch to around 4 feet where I would wade with a few very deep holes that would consume you. You will have no problem casting – the river is 50 feet wide in places.
The was nobody else fishing this stretch while I was there. I would chat with the tubers as they floated by and they confirmed that I was the only guy fishing. I could not resist when a gaggle of young girls (early 20s) floated by and asked me if I was catching any fish. I replied that I was catching plenty of fish but not catching any women. The immediate reply was “just look at yourself, you’re not using the right bait”. Ouch. Great and appropriate response to an exceptionally sweaty, dirty guy at the end of a day on the water. 🙂
Bottom Line: There is better water than this on the Gunpowder. If you are fishing to bring home a few, you can keep more on the section below Corbett Road. If you want to have catch and release excitement and a higher density of fish, you should fish the catch and release section to the north of this stretch. The positive of this section is that the railbed provides a high speed avenue of attack to get into position. The huge negative is that this is a prime spot for tubers, kayakers and the odd canoe or two.
You will catch chubb, trout and sunfish on this river.
Getting There: Head north on 83 and get off at exit 27 for Mt Carmel. Head East until the road deadends. Turn right (York Road) and then take an immediate left onto Monkton Road. Follow this for a bit and take the left onto Blue Mount Road and follow it to the Gunpowder. There are several different pulloffs.
Don’t be put off if you see a bunch of cars in the parking areas. Chances are most of these guys are tubers
Shot of the wide, level railbed you can use to quickly move down river.
Typical looking water on this stretch. Note how shallow it is in the foreground, yet the banks have plenty of grassy clumps that can hold fish.
There are a few trees down in the river. I found that most of them fell into really shallow areas and did not hold fish.
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore