Baltimore County, Maryland, July 28, 2007
We have never fished the lower section of the Gunpowder River before. I don’t know why, it wasn’t far away from the other locations we’ve fished. But I guess once you get into the habit of going to a specific location, and you always catch a fairly decent number of trout because you have it dialed in, it’s tough to go somewhere else. It echoes the old fisherman’s saying of “leaving fish to find fish.” But we decided to go find some fish, so on a hot summer weekend morning Jin and I hiked the lower Gunpowder River to see if we could dodge recreational float tubers and kayakers to find some trout.

There are clearly defined trails on both sides of the river and it's a fairly easy hike over level ground. Our plan was to walk downstream for about a mile then fish back up to the car.

The trail is a dirt path that winds alongside the river. At some spots you must climb over fallen trees or pick your way up and down large rock formations, but it's not very difficult and there aren’t many of these obstacles along the trail.

We wore our waders and wading shoes, but I think if I was doing this again, especially in hot, humid weather, I'd wear walking shoes (or Korkers) and carry the waders to the put-in point. After 20 minutes of steady walking I could feel perspiration beginning to soak my clothing. They were moisture wicking and the Simms wader was the light three-layer Gortex model, but it was summer on the East Coast and you could cut the still, humid air with a bread knife. At one point I considered jumping into the river and floating down stream for a mile just to cool off but Jin told me to stop daydreaming and hurry up. The trout were waiting.

The water was great. Temperature was in the lower 50's and the river was running clear. The bottom would vary from small, pebbly, rough gravel to a soft, sticky muck. In some areas there were deep slots and runs clogged with large piles of debris, which presented a problem you had to deal with because big fish usually lived there and they knew how to break you off in that junk.

Another problem were the tubers and kayakers floating downriver. It can be irritating, but they don't seem to bother the fish because they'll continue to bite seconds after they pass. I think after a few weeks of this kind of disturbance, the trout just get used to it. And I just love it when they float right through the area you're fishing and say, “Anything biting today? You catching anything? Beautiful day, isn’t it?”
The fishing was decent. Nearly all of the fish we caught were small, palm-sized, wild Brown trout except for one very large stocked Brown that was possibly close to 15 inches, an exceptional fish for the Gunpowder. I could tell it was a decent fish because Jin had a serious bend on his rod and had to muscle it out from under some fallen branches. He had it in hand, removed the hook, and as I was approaching for a picture it wiggled free. His cry of anguish was probably heard for a few miles.

The trout were feeding on Size 16 to 18 Paranymphs in the morning but around noon the surface action shut down and we had to go subsurface with Size 16 bead head Pheasant tails or bead head Emergers.
Lower Gunpowder River Video

EQUIPMENT: We use 3 and 4 weight rods with weight-forward floating lines. Tippet down to 5X to 6X for dries and 4X to 5X for nymphing.

DIRECTIONS: Take I-95 towards Baltimore then left onto I-695 to Towson. Take Exit 24 and merge onto I-83 Timonium/York, PA. Take Exit 27 Mt. Carmel Rd/MD-137 toward Hereford. You will see a gas station at the top of the ramp. Bear right and merge onto MD-137 Mt. Carmel Rd. The road comes to a T-intersection in town. Go left and follow the road for a few miles. You will notice a drop in elevation then come up on a series of turns in the road. After the second turn slow down and you will see parking areas on the right and left side of the bridge that crosses the Gunpowder River. The parking lot on the left has more room, but watch out for speeding cars as you cross the road. There are trails on both sides of the river.