During the first closure period of the 2008 season, the Maryland DNR dropped 2,000 fish into the Little Patuxent. After wasting my morning down on Severn Run, I was anxious to tie into at least one of them. In early February, I did a quick recon of the Little Patuxent and parked near the upper section near the sports field. A quick peek over the hill revealed a raging torrent of brown water in the wake of a severe rain a few days earlier. However, the promise was there and I returned to realize it.
This time, I decided to park near the Savage Mill entrance. This was a busy place on a sunny Sunday afternoon! Folks fishing all over the place, biking, hiking, walking – quite a buzz. I chatted with a Dad trailed by two kids who rolled his bike up to the car parked in front of me. Each kid had a fishing rod and he had a mixed stringer of Golden and Rainbow trout. Bait got ’em. In a hole near a sandbar two stairs down. “Plenty of fish still there.” Glad to see another couple of kids starting to get addicted to the sport, I geared up as he flopped the fish and rods into his car, and then headed back out with the gang to do some dedicated biking.
On so many of the Maryland rivers and streams, a bike is a good thing to have. The trails are flat, improved and allow you to move quickly from one good spot to another instead of sweating a hike. But, hiking was my only option and I resolved to leave the crowd behind and get a bit above them before I started to fish. There are a number of stocking points on the Little Patuxent so the fish should be pretty well dispersed. In addition, the TU chapter float stocks this water periodically (bless their hearts). As I walked north, I threw an eyeball on that sandbar and wrote it off as 3 other guys were parked there with intense eyes staring at bobbers. I continued up to the scenic set of small waterfalls, dropped down to the river above some kids throwing rocks and began to fish upstream.
Did I mention it was a nice day? It had to be 60 – 65 degrees and the water was starting to warm up as well, clocking in at 49. I started to work some streamers in the fast water near the falls and then switched to an attractor pattern dragging a small nameless, nymph. No takers as I walked upstream.
I chatted with a few spin guys who were coming down. They said that they started about a mile upstream and that there was nobody between me and where they started. I gave them the bad news that they were about to run into plenty of people. No problem, they had had a good day, plenty of fish still in the water.
With that confirmation, I redoubled my efforts as I worked upstream. The water here is very nice. The river is broad and seemed to average about 3 feet in depth. As you can see from the pictures, there is plenty of structure to hold fish, plenty of targets to flip a fly at and, on a good day like this one, patience came easy.
Still no luck by the time I reached the junction of the Middle and Little Patuxent rivers. I fished up the Middle until I realized where I was and then doubled back. Based on my bad experience with the Middle up by Kindler, I was not interested in testing those waters today. As soon as I started working the junction and up the Little, I started to get hits. By this time I was back to streamer patterns and throwing them straight upstream into the seams of the runs. I kept a tight line as the current would sweep them back. I could feel the tug and, in a few cases, see the fish but failed to get a good hook up.
At the junction, the water narrows. There is a good cut and deep section about 20 yards up from the junction where I spent about 45 minutes seeing fish, missing strikes and generally screwing things up. In a sense, glad to use this day to get the winter doldrums totally out rather than do the same after a three hour trek out to the North Branch.
I finally admitted defeat and continued upstream with similar success. Success in that I saw fish, they are there – good numbers of them, but I just could not get a hook in one to save my life. There are some wide, reasonably deep and long spots that lead you to tighter, boulder compressed water where the flow picks up.
As the afternoon drew to a close, I wished that I had skipped Severn and came right to here. There was at least another mile of nice fishable water above me. That will be for another day.
Grateful for the early spring warmth, I wandered back to the truck noticing that something akin to a shift change was underway. Folks like myself were heading back to the parking lot while a new crew was heading up the path; most armed with stringers and making a beeline to that sandbar. Nothing wrong with that. This is Put and Take water. Totally legal.
Bottom Line: This is such a pleasant spot, that I have to rate it as GREEN even though the pressure is intense in the lower portion of the river near the mill. If you look upstream and squint, you may believe you are out in the wilds of western Maryland on the big water. You can have it here without the three hour drive!
Getting There: Pick up Route 1 in Laurel, MD and head north. Turn left on Gorman Road and then right on Foundry Street. About 25 yards after the turn you hit the bridge over the Little Patuxent and will see the sign for Savage Mill on your left. Park, gear up and enjoy a nice spot.
Secrets Revealed? No. This is a very public location that is documented in the following places:
Guide to Maryland Trout Fishing
Looking upstream at the “waterfall” section
The junction of the Middle and the Little
Upstream on the Little Patuxent
Nice hole on the bottom part of the Middle Patuxent
Looking upstream on the Middle Patuxent
Nice deep sections are common. This one had plenty of fish. I could see them but not catch them.
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore