After seeing that Bear Creek was included in the Maryland fall stocking plan, I took a run out there to check it out. Putting the bottom line up front, I was very disappointed in what I found. However, a visit in the spring when the water is higher and more fish are stocked may produce a dramatically different assessment.
I visited Bear Creek in early October with the strategy of driving along the creek to find the various access points while using the posted stocked trout water signs as a guide to fishability. I started from Friendsville and drove upstream. While the road parallels the creek for a substantial part of its distance, there are not many turnoffs to accommodate fishermen. This was an instant red flag to me based on my new awareness of stock truck access as a key variable to the quantity of fish available. In an earlier post, I commented on my conclusion based on experience at 15 Mile Creek that when fishing stocked trout water it does not pay to hike a great distance from the stocking truck access points unless there is a high potential of trout migration or wash down. If the truck can’t get there, the trout won’t be there.
Given that the creek has to be accessible to the road for stocking to occur, I pulled over at every available spot and walked to the water. In all cases except one, I was deeply disappointed with what I saw. The water in the creek was exceptionally low and barely dribbling over its rocky 10 to 15 foot wide bed. Without pools close to the access points that are deep enough to support a decent sized fish, I wondered where the Maryland DNR inserted the 350 fish it stocked on October 8. I did not limit myself to a visual recon, but I hiked a little bit to see if any pools were available close enough to the access point to be within a reasonable distance for stocking. I did not find any!
As you move upstream following the road, it veers away from the creek as it gains altitude along the steep hillside to the north of the creek. Not surprisingly, there are no turnoffs in that section and my view of the creek was hidden by the tree cover.
I did not find a pool large enough to hold trout until I crossed under Rt 219. There’s a pretty decent pool underneath the Rt 219 bridge and another one where the road crosses Bear Creek about a quarter-mile up from 219. In fact, it was in the latter spot that I actually found a number of trout finning in the small hole created where the road crosses the stream. Since I was there and had finally found fish, I gave it a shot in spite of the deep embarrassment associated with fishing directly from the edge of the road.
This hole was no more than 10 feet wide and 10 feet long with the fish holding in a small section about 4′ x 4′. All I could do was dap my fly onto the surface of the water. Even if you were to use spin gear, there’s not enough distance to get a cast and put the spinner in motion. This was a spot tailor-made for bait. Anyway, I gave it a shot with various terrestrial patterns and even floated a few nymphs in the languid current — the trout exhibited no interest in any of this.
The fact there were fish in this spot, which is outside of the stocking range depicted on the DNR web site, probably confirmed the desperation of the stocking team in trying to find places to insert their fish as I do not believe these were natives.
Bottom line: Not a good place to visit in low water conditions. I imagine in the spring, when the water levels are higher, the stocking team has more options for loading the water. I will not come back here in the fall — it’s just not worth it — when there is other better water closer like the Youghiogheny and the North Branch.
Getting There: From Friendsville, go east on Maple Street. This turns into Bear Creek Road and follows the stream.
Google Local Coordinates: 39.657778,-79.371414
Secrets Revealed? No. This is a public location that is documented in the Maryland DNR stocking plan
Wide spot in the creek. Inches deep
Sad… not deep enough for fish… but right next to the road
Looking upstream from the hole where I found a few trout. I walked up and it petered out.
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore