Trout Hike – Patuxent River Trout Fishing (MD – Brighton Dam)

Maryland established a catch and release, fly fishing only area that starts 400 yards downstream of the dam.  With that as the lure, I had to check it out even though this section had not been stocked in a while before my arrival last summer. 

If you enter from the dam, be aware of the time.  There is a high chain link fence around the access point with a single gate.  I spoke with the park ranger before going into this area, and she told me that they close the gate in the evening.  The time of closure may be different by the time I post this report, so please check with the ranger before you fish your way downstream.  You may be trapped here or have to take a long walk to try to find the other end of the fence.  It’s not hard to make that check.  The ranger shack is at the western end of the small parking lot by the dam.

I walked down from the shack and was instantly put on alert.  There were at least 4 other parties of guys bait fishing up near the dam.  That’s perfectly fine, as the fly fishing-only section does not extend all the way up to the dam.  However, it makes you wonder if they venture into the fly area and poach.  Probably do.

There is a small path on the western bank of the river that follows the stream down for as far as I needed it to take me.  About 1/2 mile downstream, I hopped into the water and started to work dry flies with my 4wt.  Like most Maryland rivers, this one is full of panfish, such as bluegills, and even a perch slammed into my fly.  Unfortunately, the dam is not a tailwater, so the temperature was pushing its way north in the height of summer, edging up above 70 degrees.  Given that and the suspected poaching vulnerability, I did not expect to catch any trout.

However, this is a perfect place to spend an afternoon after work while I waited for the traffic to die down.  The river is shaded and pleasant with the cool water providing some relief against the heat of the July afternoon.  It’s easy wading.  The river bottom is sandy and smooth, with periodic muck areas where the river bends and the silt piles up.  It is deep enough to require chest waders if you do not want to wet wade.

The most notable feature is the trees.  Every small section of this river has a tree or a bush bending into the water to provide choice cover for the fish.  In addition, most of the areas where the trees protect the river end up being the deeper spots.  I never failed to pull a bluegill or two out from underneath this vegetation.  They hang there in ambush; waiting for any insect to make a deadly mistake in balance and tumble off the tree limb into the green water.  I pounded these guys with hopper and cricket patterns.  They also were happy to strike at my Patuxent Special streamer.

In tough trout water, you end up having to do a repeated suicide casts to get the fly to the exact right spot or face an afternoon of fishing rathing that catching.  No so on this river.  The bluegill and chub are more than happy to dash over to snap at even the poorest cast making this the ideal setting for a beginner like myself who needs both practice and postive feedback.

In addition to the bluegill and chub, I was surprised to catch perch and a crappie as I worked the area around the dam.  In fact, everything except trout. 

The Maryland DNR did stock the fly fishing only section in March, so there are at least some trout here for 2008.  Do go here if you want an unlimited amount of bluegill action and to get some great casting practice.  The river is wide enough to provide plenty of forgiving room and, with the enormous amount of structure, it provides an ample number of different targets.

Patuxent River Trout Fishing Bottom Line:  Good for bluegills.  Probably OK for trout for a limited period after stocking.  I’ve got to mark this down as “unknown” for trout size.

Getting There: Mapquest yourself to Brookville, MD and head east on Market Street from MD 97.  This turns into Brighton Dam Road.  When you get to the Dam, pull off into the parking area on the south side.  The entrance through the fence is in the small parking lot; you can’t miss it.

What’s this guy doing in this water?

Fairly wide, reasonably deep

You can see the sandy bottom

Plenty of trees to hold fish

Trees, trees, trees

Reasonably easy casting

The deep areas are at the bends

Small trail on the southern bank

Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore

Articles on this site are out of date since some go back to 2006. Regulations and property ownership may have changed since publication. It is your responsibility to know and obey all regulations and not trespass on private property.

Disclaimer and Warning:  The contents of this site reflect the opinion of the author and you, the reader, must exercise care in the use and interpretation of this information.  Fishing is a dangerous sport.  You can slip and fall on rocks and sustain severe injury.  You can drown.  You can get hooks caught in your skin, face, eyes or other sensitive places.  All sorts of bad things can happen to you when to go into the woods to visit the places documented here.  Forests, streams and lakes are wild areas and any number of bad things can happen.  You must make your own judgment in terms of acceptable behavior and risk and not rely on anything posted here.  I disclaim all liability and responsibility for any actions you take as a result of reading the articles on this site.  If you do not agree with this, you should not read anything posted on this site.

Disclaimer and Warning:  The contents of this site reflect the opinion of the author and you, the reader, must exercise care in the use and interpretation of this information.  Fishing is a dangerous sport.  You can slip and fall on rocks and sustain severe injury.  You can drown.  You can get hooks caught in your skin, face, eyes or other sensitive places.  All sorts of bad things can happen to you when to go into the woods to visit the places documented here.  Forests, streams and lakes are wild areas and any number of bad things can happen.  You must make your own judgment in terms of acceptable behavior and risk and not rely on anything posted here.  I disclaim all liability and responsibility for any actions you take as a result of reading the articles on this site.  If you do not agree with this, you should not read anything posted on this site.

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