On Sunday, I headed out to Garrett County for what I hoped would be three days of fishing. On the first day, I was looking for brookie spots that I had not visited previously. I noticed in the 2006 Brook Trout management plan that the Little Savage River had a good population of Brook Trout. With that information, I made it the target for my first afternoon.
This place is hard to find. There is a small dirt road turn off from the main road that you will miss unless you are looking for it. I had the coordinates loaded into my GPS and was alert for the spot. I knew I was in the right place when I saw the DNR wildlands sign as well as the “zero creel limit” fishing warning at the trailhead. I had my fishing bike with me, so I hopped on it and rode the quarter-mile down to the intersection of the river with the trail.
“River” is an aggressive name to apply to this extremely skinny rivulet of water. Granted, this is September at the end of a fairly dry year. But, to call this a river is hyperbole! I was encouraged by the fact that there was running water and that the streambed was not totally dry. I took a quick temperature reading and was happy to see that the water was a cold 60°; well within the temperature range for year round trout survival. Given this situation, I knew I had to hike downstream and look for the community pools where the trout would stack up while waiting for the stream to fill.
This was tough walking! Slippery, moss covered rocks guard the streambed on the east side with a steep, nearly impassable hill on the west. There is a faint trail to the east that comes and goes, but cannot be relied on. To fish this stream, you end up either walking in the streambed or carefully picking your way across the boulder field. I generally stuck to the eastern bank and staggered downstream looking for any pool deeper than a foot that would hold trout. On my way down, I focused on identifying the spots with the intent of sneaking up from downstream on the way back.
A mile and a half from the trailhead, I had identified three good community pools and began fishing my way back upstream. If I had had more time, another quarter-mile would’ve put me on even better water when you look at the topographic map and see the sharp drop in elevation that occurs south of where I turned around.
I tied on a Mr. Rapidan and began flipping it using my short tenkara rod into at the first pool. With the gentle presentation, none of the trout were spooked and I was surprised that I could catch several without the pool “turning off.” I made that mistake – assuming the pool had been spooked – on the first one I fished. After catching two or three fish, I walked upstream and was startled to see many additional large brookies scatter from their feeding position in the center of the pool as I walked by.
With this intelligence, I spent more time at each of the two succeeding pools and was able to sit at each for 30 to 45 minutes, catching fish on every third or fourth cast. Although I was appropriately stealthy in my approach, I attribute the length of the fishing experience at each to the gentle drop of the fly obtainable using the tenkara rod. There is no heavy fly line to slap on the water – just a very light furled leader and tippet.
After fishing the third pool, I headed back to the bike, pushed it back up the hill and hopped in the truck to try one more spot on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.
Getting There: From I-68, take exit 29 onto MD 546 south. Turn right on Old Frostburg Road. Turn left onto Frostburg Road. Turn left on Avilton Lonacoming Road. The turn off is about 3.5 miles on the right.
Google Local Coordinates: 39.610548,-79.024451
Secrets Revealed? No. This is a very public location that is documented in the 2006 Brook Trout Management Plan.
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Date Fished: 9/9/2012
Biked down to the river from the parking
Skinny water at the start
Break a leg walking near the stream – jumbled boulders
Still skinny about a 1/2 mile in
Finally – a community pool
Brookies stacked up and ready to bite!
Another good community pool
But… you have to fight through this to get there!
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore