Washington County, Maryland, June 10, 2011
I made two mistakes that I swear I will never, ever, attempt again. Never, ever, have spicy tacos the night before you go fishing. And never, ever, try to fish a rod that you know might not be able to handle the size or species of fish you are after.

I hit the road at 4:30am and was pulling into the fly fishing parking lot at Beaver Creek as the sun was begining to peek over the distant mountains. There was one other car in the lot and as I geared up I wondered what section of the creek the angler was fishing. I got my answer about 30 yards down the trail when I met the owner of the car on his way back to his vehicle with a coffee cup in his hand and no rod or fishing gear. He lives nearby and was just taking an early morning walk along the creek to check conditions. He gave me a quick rundown of what he found. His report turned out to be quite accurate.

The water was running a bit high and colored from recent rainstorms. There was also evidence of lots of angler activity along the creek since the
recent stream improvements went in. He said you can tell where everyone is fishing because there are bald spots on the grass where people are standing to fish. But just because everyone is fishing in those spots it doesn't mean it's the right spot. We traded information. Slowly at first, because you really don't want to blurt out everything you know, but eventually you find out the person you're talking to knows what you know so it becomes an even trade of information.

After talking for about 20 minutes we broke off the conversation and said our goodbyes. He was off to work and I was off to go fishing. As I walked down the trail I had some misgivings about my equipment. Fishing at Beaver Creek was a spur of the moment decision on my part. I intended to spend the day at Big Hunting Creek chasing small stream game so although I was carrying a fiberglass stick with a slow action--one that loaded the rod easily with very little line out the tip for gentle fly presentations using a long leader and fine tippet. I usually carry something with more backbone and heft when I fish this section of Beaver Creek, and my practical side of my brain was telling me this would not work, but I thought I could handle the fish with this rod so I went ahead and began fishing. I was wrong.

As I fished upstream I kept thinking that I shouldn't be fishing this section of the creek with this type of gear. But I kept going. A slow action full-flex rod bends throughout the blank if something very large is on the other end of the rod it bends right down to the handle. It's a great tool if you match it to the size and/or species of fish and body of water you intend to fish. If you hook into something big, and have lots of space to run along the banks or you're fishing from a drift boat, you can probably go to the fish rather than try to bring it to you and get it to net quickly. It may give you some anxious moments but it's do-able. However I was fishing a seciton of Beaver Creek that was narrow, with lots of snags and downed trees. You can't mess around after you hook a fish here, especially if you want to release it in good shape, where it will survive to fight another day. You have to get it in quickly and release it quickly. The rod was too soft and I couldn't put enough pressure on the fish. The blank bent down to the handle. I cranked down on the drag and gained some ground as the fish was attempting to dive under the remains of a large tree but a minute into the fight the fish threw the hook. Dumb, dumb, dumb. I decided to stop fishing right there and continue with my original plan to fish Big Hunting Creek. But first I had to make a quick pit stop at the
Sheetz service station. Never, ever, have spicy tacos the night before you go fishing.
DIRECTIONS: From I-70 heading towards Hagerstown, take Exit 66 (Boonsboro) and turn left at bottom of ramp onto Mapleville Road (66). Continue down 66 and turn right onto Beaver Creek Road. Turn right on Beaver Creek Church Road and follow it, cross a steel bridge, turn left and 50 yards on your right will be the fly fishing parking lot. Follow the signs and instructions and PLEASE make sure the gate is closed behind you.

GAS, FOOD and CLEAN RESTROOMS: If you need to make a quick pit stop, buy some gas or a drink or a hot dog, there is a Sheetz service station is located about 100 yards beyond Beaver Creek Road. Just stay on Mapleville Road until you come to an intersection. You can't miss it.

FLY SHOP: If you arrive at the creek and discover you've left something important at home, like your fly reel, stop by the Beaver Creek Fly Shop. It's owned by Matt Rosenthal, who used to run a fly shop in the Smoky Mountains. The Beaver Creek Fly Shop is stocked with Scott and TFO rods, Scientific Anglers and Rio lines, reels, leader, tippet, packs, vests, flies, boots, books, videos and lots of fly tying supplies. They are located in a small shopping complex on Mapleville Road on your right just as you go under the I-70 overpass. Their phone number is 301-393-9090 or you can go to the website to see what's available.