Baltimore County, Maryland, May 24, 2014
I arrived at 5:30am at the Masemore Bridge parking lot to try my luck with trout. The effects of last week's heavy rainstorm are still being felt across the region--the Potomac River was still in the process of returning to normal and many of the local rivers and streams were running high and dirty. I figured my best bet for any decent fly fishing would be the Gunpowder since Prettyboy Dam controls the flow of water.

There was another car parked at the lot but it turned out to be a dog giving his person a morning walk along the Lefty Kreh trail. I moved quickly up the trail and noted that the river was running a bit high and fast. According to the folks at the
Backwater Angler, the Sulphur hatch was in full swing (another good reason to fish the river) so I came prepared with a variety of patterns in various sizes.
I walked up to the beginning of the slower water then turned around to fish back to the bridge. I tied on a size 16 Comparadun pattern that had a bit of orange dubbing mixed with a very pale yellow. The body was tied sparse with a shorter than normal tail. I began fishing in close, not stepping into the water, working the depressions in the slow water outside the main current. I pricked but did not stick a couple of fish as I slowly began working the fly further out into the river.

The sun was beginning to appear through the trees as I threw a cast to fish under some bushes overhanging the water on the opposite bank. I was rewarded by a huge splash and a solid take. It turned out to be a brown trout that measured out a hair over 12 inches and from that point the only fish I seemed to catch were browns that were a hair over 12 inches. At first I thought it was the same fish, but as I kept moving down the river I kept catching those browns. I wasn't complaining, it was just sort of weird that all the fish were of a uniform length--maybe a difference of 1/4 to 1/2 inch between them.
I made the turn into the final stretch of river before reaching the Masemore Bridge. Jin and I have fished this section many times before so I knew what to expect. The water was slower here, so I dropped down a size and tried a paranymph pattern tied with the same pale yellow/orange dubbing. Here, I began catching the smaller natives. But you only had one shot and if you missed setting the hook or it was a short strike, forget it and move on. You could stand there all day and the fish wouldn't rise to your pattern again. Sometimes changing the fly to present something different worked, but you still faced the same dilemma--a miss or a short strike and you were done trying to hook that trout for the day.
Again, like upper section of the river, all the fish I caught here were of a fairly uniform size and despite their lack of length, they struck hard and put up a great fight. I picked up a fair number of fish in this short section before leaving the water to begin a hike on the North Trail.

There were a couple of anglers fishing just in front of the parking lot as I walked along the trail. The storm had knocked down a few trees and in some spots debris from the fast-moving river had formed piles of dead wood. The kayakers were going to have a tough time navigating some of these areas later in the year. I passed through a field of ferns and crossed the river, moving past a narrow point in the river before beginning to fish again. The nice thing about walking down here was the lack of crowds. Everyone seems to fish at or above Masemore and except for a couple of English hikers I had this whole section of river to myself for most of the afternoon.
The water was a bit slower here since the river was wider and most of the fish were hanging out just outside the main current seam. The water was clear and I could see the fish flash up off the bottom as they tried for the fly. But just as their brothers and sisters did up at Masemore, if you missed the hook set it was best if you kept moving and not dwell on it too much. After a few more hours fishing I decided to call it a day and followed the trail back to the now packed parking lot.

EQUIPMENT: I use anything from a 3 to 6-weight rod, depending on the size of fish and location. My leaders were 11 to14 feet long tapered to 18 to 24 inches of 6x and in some cases a lighter tippet up to 7x for the smaller flies. Check the Backwater Angler fly shop for more details about fishing conditions and fly selection. Better yet, stop at the shop and buy a few from their tins. Great stuff.

DIRECTIONS: From Virginia, 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. Turn left onto 137 (Mt. Carmel Road) and follow for 1/4 mile. Turn left onto Masemore Road and slowly follow the narrow road downhill and past the old stone house on the corner. Fly fishing parking is just before the Masemore Road Bridge.