Washington County, Maryland, March 1, 2008
Nymphing for stocked rainbows
and browns at Antietam Creek below the large stone bridge
just outside the Devil's Backbone Park.
It was a bonus day for fishing--my wife and
daughter were going to a Girl Scout function and I wasn't!
I thought I was going with them to the meeting but when my
wife turned to me and asked if I was doing anything today
while they were gone, I was off to Antietam Creek.
The creek is best known for the historic Civil War battle
that took place on September 17, 1862, when the armies of
the North and South slugged it out from dawn to dusk on a
farm field bordering Antietam Creek near the town of
Sharpsburg. This bloody encounter produced more than 23,000
casualties on both sides and there was no clear winner.
There are two locations to access the lower fishable part
of Antietam Creek-- the Devil's Backbone County Park and
the Antietam National Battlefield Park. I began at the park
and quickly found out that it was overrun with bait
anglers. Some folks had several rods out tipped with
nightcrawlers, corn or some plastic trout yummies. The park
itself is very nice and provides restrooms, picnic areas
with grills, a playground, pavilions and parking. It was a
bit too crowded for me and anglers were eyeing me and my
fly rod so I packed it in and headed back downstream to
fish the creek outside the park.
The Devil's Backbone Park.
Lots of anglers fish here using a variety of gear and
baits, both live and artificial.
Outside the park Antietam Creek is fairly wide and has a
variety of riffles that empty into deep pools and runs,
providing ideal trout habitat. There are several parking
spots along Lappens Road (68). One is just before the
one-lane bridge where Beaver Creek empties into Antietam
Creek. I parked at the other pull-off about 100 yards
beyond the small bridge but before you reach the large
stone bridge leading to the Devil's Backbone Park.
There was another fly angler parked there waiting for
friends to show up. He had been fishing for a bit and said
it was slow but fish were there if I used small nymphs or
caddis around size 18-22 (Pheasant tail, Hare's Ear, etc).
He also let down my expectations a bit by adding that this
section of the river has recently been pounded heavily by
poachers fishing at night and out of season. After gearing
up I crossed the road and jumped the crash barrier where I
found lots of trails leading to the water.
The banks were steep and muddy but the trails along the
river are very evident and so are the put-in spots. I
fished a bit and walked downstream to the small bridge
where Beaver Creek empties into the Antietam. I found a
spin angler and two fly guys standing there working the
water. We stared at each other for a few seconds and
exchanged the usual angler lies about how many we caught
and what we caught them on before I turned around and
headed back upstream.
The one-lane bridge on
Lappens Road where Beaver Creek empties into Antietam
The water was moving fast, so a good bit of weight was
needed to keep the fly near the bottom. Sections of the
creek are also pretty deep and the water cloudy so you need
to watch your step because at some spots it went from ankle
deep to waist deep just by taking a step forward. After
catching some small (less than 5-inches) rainbows and a
couple of long distance releases on two fish I decided to
pack it in and check out Lower Beaver Creek at Toms Road.
EQUIPMENT: I used a 8-feet 3-weight rod
with a dual taper floating line and an assortment of
nymphs. Anything small and black was working.
DIRECTIONS: From I-70 heading towards
Hagerstown, take Exit 66 (Boonsboro) and turn left onto
Mapleville Road (66) at bottom of ramp. Continue down the
road for a few miles and turn right onto Mill Point Road.
Follow Mill Point Road for a few more miles as it crosses
Old National Pike (40) then turn right onto Lappens Road
(68). You will come up on the narrow one lane stone bridge
first and you can pull over and park on the right or
continue to the second, larger stone bridge which will put
you at the Devil's Backbone Park.