Brunswick, Maryland, September 17, 2010
There was one bit of advice I got from the folks I met at last week's Spey Day gathering at Fletcher's Cove in Washington, DC. Practice. Then go out and practice again. According to Dan Davala, if you want to be able to throw a decent line, "you have to practice, practice and practice."

So I decided to go practice with the spey rod. Although getting to Fletcher's Cove on a work day, during rush hour, was do-able, it wouldn't be pleasant. Canal Road is one way during the morning rush until 10:30 so if you wanted to get into the parking lot, you'd have to do it backwards unless you get real lucky and get a break in traffic so you can pull a U-turn and go down the ramp the regular way instead of going down ass end first. For me, anywhere near the city was out of the question. Too much traffic and aggravation.

My original plan was to practice at the boat ramp just below the Point of Rocks bridge off I-15. I had fished there before and at this time the water is usually low with minimal current. However in a spur of the moment decision I decided to head for the town of Brunswick to check out the area and to practice casting.

Brunswick is located on the southwestern edge of Frederick County, Md., about 45 miles up the Potomac River from Washington, DC.

The town had many names over the years--Buffalo Wallow, Coxson Rest, Eels Pot, Potomac Crossing, Tankersville, Berlin and Barry until 1890, when the B&O Railroad named it Brunswick because many residents came from Brunswick, Germany.

Besides various parks and historic sites Brunswick is the home of
El Sloppy Tacos, an eatery featuring a variety of Mexican, Caribbean and Central American fare as well as southern barbecue ribs. But if you just want a cup of coffee or hot chocolate to go with your panini sandwich and designer soup and want to cruise the internet on your iPad then check out Beans in the Belfry. It's sort of like a Panera Bread store on acid. The town also has a great railroad museum with one of the largest model train layouts on the East Coast. The Brunswick Railroad Museum is also rumored to be haunted.

I arrived at the boat ramp and there were only three cars there, counting mine. I geared up and waded out and began my practice session. It was a beautiful day and there were some hatches coming off in the slow water with an occasional splash breaking the water as a fish fed from below. But I ignored that and set up my line and began to go through a series of casts. Single Spey, Double Spey, Snap-T. Some casts were beautiful. A lot were ugly. I also switched directions on the river and also practiced with my left hand on top with almost the same results. And the wind really kicked up later in the afternoon but at least I didn't hook myself, keeping the fly downwind at all times by using different casts that put the fly in a safe spot.

Although I spotted fish rising, probably bass or sunfish, I passed on the fishing. I was here to work on the delivery and presentation--better to do it now than when you actually go fishing. So here I stood, knee-deep in the Potomac River throwing cast after cast and trying to smooth things out. Using a spey rod is not like casting a fly rod. Everything slows down and I caught myself rushing the cast or pushing with the top grip, like on a fly rod, instead of snapping the butt of the rod in. And about that D-loop... Practice, practice, practice.

DIRECTIONS: I took I-15 outside Leesburg and after crossing the Potomac River at the Point of Rocks bridge went left (after going around the traffic circle) onto 464, Point of Rocks Road. I followed Point of Rocks Road but just outside of Lander, the road was closed (except for local traffic) and I had to take a detour up Lander Road and onto highway 340. From there I exited onto 17, Burkittsville Road. Turn left and follow Burkittsville Road to a major intersection with Petersville Road. Turn right and continue following Burkittsville Road into Brunswick. Go around the traffic circle and continue on Burkitsville Road. Take a right onto N. Maple Avenue and follow that road as it becomes S. Maple Avenue and crosses the railroad tracks. After you cross the last track you will see a sign directing you to a boat launch area and C&O Canal park. Go right and follow the road into the parking area. The I-17 bridge should be towering above you. Depending on the tide, you can gear up and walk out the mouth of the channel into the Potomac River or walk across to the bank opposite the boat launch and you'll see a trail that takes you to the river.