The water was a tepid 74 degrees when I visited this stretch of the Patapsco in July, 2007 – right at the threshold of pain for trout survival. But, maybe there were smallies in here someplace, so off I went.
The parking area is easy to find based on the DNR directions. I pulled into the wide, well marked area and noted that there was only one other truck there on this Saturday morning – good. There are train tracks that parallel the river in this section – as is the case with most of the Patapsco, so I followed the tracks downstream. My plan was to walk in as far as I could stand without fishing and then work my way back.
Two miles later, I fought my way through dense brush and slid down the steep bank to plop into the water – everything akimbo. With sweat poring off and the skeeters homing in, I quickly rigged up my 4wt with a terrestrial pattern and plunged into the water. First mistake. I assumed this would be fairly shallow and was wearning hip waders. Within the first step or two, they filled up. Rats. I took them off, stuffed them in the pack and wet waded; something I should have planned on doing all along.
Once in the steam, the skeeters disappeared and I could concentrate on the fishing. The bluegills were busy and insanely attacked anything I put on the water. I knew that we were well past the stocking season, so the likelihood of catching any trout was remote, but I was hopeful there might be one or two left. I worked up the left bank of the river, throwing to a smorgasbord of structure. There were trees, overhanging banks and bushes clinging to the steep banks and crowding the river; all eager to snatch an airborne fly.
After getting plenty of practice on the ‘gills with dries, I switched to streamers in an attempt to shake them off the hunt. After tying on a brown wooly bugger and the Patuxent Special, I started to pick up some smallies – not a great smallie day, but enough to have a good time. I did get one trout out of a deep pool that collected itself upstream of a set of small, gentle rapids.
This is a decent river for central Maryland. It is broad and deep where you would expect it. Every turn has a deeper pool that holds fish. Since the river constantly winds to follow the steep hills in the area, there are plenty of good spots to target. The steep banks present a minor problem and will force you to work back and forth across the river; to include backtracking a few times, to get to the next attack position.
Another issue – more for the new fly guy – is that there are plenty of trees and other structure that hug the banks and just wait for your backcast. This is roll cast country unless you are in the middle of the river and cast up or downstream. The good news is that you do not need distance. You are belly to belly with your target species. However, you do not have to insanely focus on noise here as the smallies and bluegills don’t really care.
I fished my way up to the junction of the two branches shown on the map. That marks the lower boundary of the state park and the start of a more pressured section of the river. In the park, there is a nice trail that follows the river from the parking area down to here. I could see mountain bikers careening around the narrow trail as well as walkers and a few folks sitting on the side of the river where the trail broke through the woods. At that point, it was late in the afternoon, so I packed up and headed to the truck.
On the way back, I ran into a few teenagers who were carrying buckets and walking down the track. Since I always look for any insight on fishable water, I stopped to chat with them. Turns out they were after crawfish! That’s something to put in the back of your brain in terms of future patterns to use on this river. They complained that with the lowered water levels, they had not caught as many as they usually do, but confirmed that this is a hot spot for collecting that shellfish
Bottom Line: This is a nice section. I’ll come back here in the spring when it is stocked to try my hand again on the trout. The woods are pleasant, the brush is not really that bad if you pick the right place to make your break to and from the river, and the water is deep enough to hold fish and protect them from predators.
2008 Stocking note: I was recently told that the DNR does not stock much beyond the Junction of the two rivers… if that far. So, save yourself some sweat if you are after trout and take a shorter walk walk than I did.
Also, the stocking will extend upstream from the parking lot. When I go back, I’ll work from the junction upstream through the parking lot and continue until it looks like I have gone beyond where the trout would naturally migrate.
With the recent high water as a result of the rain, the fish may be better distributed than they were last year.
Getting There: The DNR site has good directions – From I-695, take exit to MD Rt 40 west or from I-70 take exit 83 to Marriotsville Road north. Follow the signs to the park. Once you cross the river, the parking area to go fishing is on the west side of the road.
Secrets Revealed? No – the MD DNR provides all the details.
This section has broad, deeper sections
Walking on the eastern bank takes you through a pleasant wooded area
Good pools, enough rocks to make it interesting and shore structure
The view upstream from the railroad tracks
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore