Thurmont, Maryland, May 21, 2010
I still had two hours to fish.

I spent the morning on
Big Hunting Creek in Catoctin Mountain Park but the fish had stopped biting and there were more anglers showing up so I decided to skip one valley over onto Sabillasville Road to fish at Owens Creek.

Owens Creek could be a great delayed harvest or catch-and-release fishery but due to intense angling pressure it's managed as one of the most popular put-and-take fisheries in Frederick County. From the headwaters to Raven Rock Road, it's a non-stocked native brook trout creek that has no tackle restrictions and a two trout a day creel limit. From Raven Rock Road to
Roddy Road covered bridge the creek is stocked an managed as a put-and-take, catch-and-release trout fishery. Anglers fishing from June 1 through the end of February must use artificial lures and release all trout. During March, April and May, put-and-take regulations, closures and creel limits apply.

I knew that the trip might be futile.
I fished this creek before and although I found fish, they were extremely wary because they were pounded daily. But I had the time and it was close by so I decided to go for it.

I pulled into a parking spot just past a bridge and geared up. I walked over to a cliff that overlooked a large pool and stared down at the water. The last time I was here there were several very large trout cruising in the pool below. Today it looked empty but I waited around and watched the water. Five minutes later a shape detached itself from the bottom and swiftly struck at something floating on the surface of the pool. A quick, sudden, savage hit. It was definitely trouty behavior. I carefully made my way down the face of the cliff and set myself up to cast.

As I was preparing to throw some line a panel truck noisily pulled into the parking lot and a guy dressed like he just came from the office jumped out and quickly hustled down the trail until he was standing on the cliff above me. He looked a little wild-eyed and was snapping his head back and forth as he scanned the pool.

"Do you see anything? Fish? Any fish?" He was asking me these questions but did not look at me. He kept his eyes on the water.

I told him I had just arrived and was about to start fishing.

"You a fly fisherman huh? Lots of fish in here last time. About 12 to 14 big trout," he said. "But looks like everybody cleaned them out."

I didn't say anything about the trout I saw in the pool. I told him I had some time to kill so I was just going to try fishing here before heading home.

"Too bad you weren't here last week. Lots of fish then," he said. "Well, looks like they cleaned them out. Good luck." And as quickly as he arrived he jumped back into his truck and took off.

I set myself up and began casting. It was a pleasant day but the sky was too blue and the sun was too bright. That trout stayed plastered to the bottom and refused to move for anything I tried to feed him. I gave up on the dry flies and tried nymphing, but all that did was move him from the middle of the pool to a rock overhang on the far side of the pool.

After playing with him off and on for an hour I took a walk upstream to check out the water, which looked very nice and fishy. But the day was moving on and I wanted to dodge the afternoon getaway traffic so I slowly packed up my stuff and headed for home.
EQUIPMENT: I used a 3-weight rod and floating line. I used a variety of Tom Baltz dry fly parachute patterns and nymphs.

DIRECTIONS: From Virginia take Route 15 north to Thurmont then exit onto Route 550 Sabillasville Road. This road follows Owens Creek. Look for posted trout fishing signs.