For the last month, the urge to fish has been driving me crazy. Not only has the weather been warming up, contributing to my madness, but I have been involved with an exceptionally complex proposal, with the associated late nights, that has kept me from the water. But, the proposal was submitted last week and I’m finally free to roam wild. Therefore, as soon as I finished my speaking engagement at the Bass Pro Shop Spring Classic on Saturday, I headed to the nearest water.
I fished the Fly Fishing Only section of the Patuxent River from Brighton Dam downstream as well as from Mink Hollow upstream. The middle section was unknown territory to me and that is where I pointed my rod. I had additional energy given my conversation at the Spring Classic event with the Potomac-Patuxent chapter. It turns out they had recently float stocked the entire section. So, it was loaded with fish.
Parking is limited at the bridge crossing with a turnoff on the southern side that will fit three or four vehicles with a few additional spots on the shoulder of the road. As I geared up, another fisherman tramped back to the lot from the downstream direction and I asked him how he had done. He reported no success using either hares ear or prince nymphs. I had already tied on a Patuxent Special so his input confirmed my strategy to rely on streamers. In fact, freshly stocked trout will not become acclimated to a natural food for a week or more. This is been confirmed in a number of different studies of trout behavior conducted in South Dakota, Pennsylvania and even in the United Kingdom. He was heading upstream, so I decided to walk a half mile downstream.
After dodging through the thorn bushes that I had forgotten protected the entire length of the Patuxent River, I broke out into an open field and skirted the southern edge. As I walked, I kept a keen eye on the surface of the water. The river was running clear and deep. I was concerned that I did not see any of the freshly stocked trout finning in the water. However, since I only have one good eye, it’s not surprising that I could not detect any movement. Since I only had a limited amount of time, I started to fish at the corner of the field where the river turned farther south. There’s a deep hole there protected by a number of blowdowns with a large pool on the southern bank.
I began flipping the Patuxent Special into all the likely spots and maintained patience to allow it to reach the bottom before I twitched it home. No action. I began moving upstream fishing other likely locations. The river was running deep enough to where I could not remain in the streambed. This presents a problem given the steep, untraversable banks. Not only were they covered with the same thorns that were anxious to penetrate my waders, but overgrown banks were stark and steep; pitching 90° from the field to the river. Given that I only had a little bit of time to fish, this was not a big deal, but I did make note of it for future reference.
I continued to fish my way back to the bridge by poking my rod through the trees at the few access points that did not involve a suicide jump off the edge of the bank. The river is especially attractive at the first bend where it begins to run parallel to the field. There is a steep rocky cliff face that provides a scenic setting and associated deep pools that have to hold trout. Sad to say, I did not catch anything in my brief hour on the water. I know the fish are there since they were only recently stocked and this is a catch and release area.
Bottom Line: This is well worth a return trip. The river is wide enough to allow for easy casting if you can move away from the banks. The fact that it is float stocked ensures equitable distribution of the fish throughout the entire section.
Getting There: From I-95 take exit 38 onto MD 32 W toward Columbia. Exit onto MD-108 W/Clarksville Pike. At the light, make a slight right onto Ten Oaks Road. Follow it to Brighton Dam Road. Make a right on Brighton Dam and then a left onto Havilland Mill Road. Follow Havilland Mill to the bridge
Secrets Revealed? No. This is a very public location that is documented in the following places:
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Date Fished: 3/5/2011
Upstream from the bridge
Downstream from the bridge
River parallels an open field that makes for easy walking
Nice hole at the corner
While the bottom is sandy, there are plenty of deeper areas with structure
Small dam backs up the water at the start of the field
Prior to entering the field, the river runs next to a cliff
Looking upstream into the bend towards the bridge
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore