When I saw that the Maryland DNR had stocked the Patapsco up near Sykesville, I knew it was time for me to go check out the last remaining stretch that I had not visited. Unlike the section near Marriottsville, the Patapsco at Sykesville is broad and easily accessible until the road veers away from the river. But, even then, the railbed parallels the river and provides easy in and out movement.
It was a cloudy day in early November when I rolled in here right before lunch. As I drove down the road next to the river, I noticed a few other anglers were working the stream closer to the bridge that marked the upper end of the stocked section. I drove as far down as I could and parked at a small turn off that was big enough for two trucks. Since I am obsessive to start fishing when I arrive at new water, I quickly choked down the sandwich I brought with me and hit the stream.
Right at the parking lot, there is a cluster of rocks that protect a deep pool. I could see activity in there — fish were flashing as they fed on nymphs about halfway up the water column. Hot dang! I slid down the muddy bank and tried to approach the big rock cautiously. Two steps away from the perfect attack position, I slipped and landed with a clatter on the steep bank. Well, that blew that hole — at least for now. Knowing that the other guys were upstream, I walked downstream about 100 yards and began to fish there. I was hoping for a double play — both trout and smallies.
Excepting the fact that trout water in central Maryland is bland when compared to the startling beauty of the western part of the state, the river looked pretty good even though its bare bones were sticking up — no leaves on the trees, no green on the brush. There’s plenty of water here. The river runs 30 or 40 feet across with a decent amount of current as a result of the small gradient that hurries the water downstream. As expected, every bend hosts a pool and the runs are acceptably deep as well. There were many places that were too deep to wade. The good news is that the bottom is a mixture of sand and rock that is easy to negotiate.
I did not see any evidence of top water activity, so I relied on streamers. The current was not really fast enough to push nymphs downstream. Since this was central Maryland, I worked the Patuxent Special down deep in an attempt to dredge up some action. I did not encounter any interest downstream, so I climbed up to the railbed and quickly walked to my start point. I snuck back up on that hole at the big rock from a downstream angle and began to work it pretty hard. I picked up one fish here — a nice trout but nothing more. Assuming I had spooked the pool again, I walked past it and began to fish my way up the river towards the other fishermen.
If you look at the pictures, you’ll see that there was no sun — this was an overcast day. I don’t know where these people come from or why, but all of a sudden about 30 yards up from me, a boy and his dad appeared on the bank and proceeded to start throwing rocks into the river. While I appreciate the fact that they were having a good time, I have no idea where they came from or why they picked that particular spot on such a bad day. They should have brought fishing gear! I skipped around them and continued upstream. There were more trout in this section than down below. I saw them moving ahead of me if I attempted to move too fast. Just for the heck of it, I switched to a BWO pattern to see what would happen. Nothing happened. I caught one additional trout on the Patuxent Special and that was it for the day.
Above the rock, the river runs shallower than it did below. In this stretch, it’s easily wadeable and the water only came up to mid-thigh in most places. There are one or two deep spots but those are widely scattered throughout the section.
Bottom Line: I like the Patapsco and I think this spot and downstream would be more productive on a warm day. I always, and you should too, hesitate to make any absolute conclusions about water when I fish it late in the season. I heard from other people that if you walk about a mile up from Marriottsville and then jump on the river, you will enjoy a good pocket of smallies between that point and here. Given that in what I experienced with the stocked trout, this section certainly merits a return visit.
Getting There: Head west from Ellicott City on I70 and take exit 80 towards Sykesville on 32N. Follow it for about 2 miles and then turn right on River Road. The Patapsco follows River Road and you can fish anywhere in this stretch where you see the stocked water signs.
Google Local Coordinates: 39.357363,-76.95837
Secrets Revealed? No. This is a very public location that is documented in the following places:
Mid-Atlantic Budget Angler
Upstream from the entry point in the middle of the red line
Downstream from the entry point in the middle of the red line
Looking upstream from the southern point
Looking downstream from the southern point
Downstream from the northern point
Upstream from the northern point
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore