Thursday, November 4, 2010

Got them Lower Gunpowder Blues

Looks a bit different than my last visit!
I had the tiniest of windows in which to run down to the scene of 2010's only skunked fishing day. So of course, I did. The Gunpowder River is an amazing river, and it's beautiful too. Over the years, I've seen a lot of big fish in it, from trophy rainbow trout in the Upper Gunpowder, to striped bass in the lower River, to trophy smallmouth in Loch Raven Reservoir, which impounds the river just above the Fall Line. And while I've had many fun days and have caught hundreds or more fish on those stretches of river over the last 10 years, those many-specied big fish have totally eluded my hook and line. The day's conditions - falling barometer, cool air, warm water, and no rain in the last week - certainly favored some fishing success. Or so I thought.

36" deep semi-buoyant layer of rotting algae, aquatic plants, and leaves
This summer's drought produced an epic crop of aquatic vegetation in the upper Chesapeake Bay. Good for water quality. Good for fish. Good for crabs. Really tough for fishing. A lot of fishing days this year were spent avoiding or alternately, cursing, this year's amazing productivity of leafy wet stuff.
The plants are dying back in the Gunpowder, but now it doesn't "look" like fish habitat at all. I was even wondering about oxygen levels with the huge amount of decay. There is no boat access in this stretch of river, so the channel edge (where the fish probably were) is kind of unreachable. Ugh. I've fished this spot fairly productively since 2002, never landing large fish, but having great luck over shallow water and under tree limbs. I'm not sure why the last couple of trips have been such a bust.
It was clear that this section of river was just not happening today, so I packed up really quick and tripped up to the upper dam and.....the fabulous world that is reservoir fishing.
The new Loch Raven Upper Dam, completed in 2005
Loch Raven Reservoir is a good fishery. Maybe even a great fishery. But the fish act weird sometimes. The DNR fishing report (which of course, I checked after I went fishing) states that fishing in the reservoir is "on fire at depths 18-20' over structure." Hmm. I doubt that too many folks have fish finders on their boats in the reservoir - county regulations prohibit all outboard motors. And with the reservoir still down 4-6 feet from normal, you are just not going to cast into that kind of depth from shoreline. But I still gave it a chance.
Easiest access there is!
Recall that I had very little time for this whole extravaganza......and I was getting desperate. I hit up a massively overfished part of the reservoir, at a point where a 48" drain pipe enters the reservoir. But, because of the drought, the drain pipe is actually 8 feet up in the air, and 30 feet inland of the water's edge. Double ugh. I gave it my best shot, but that exposed bench of rock, which is usually 6-8' below water, was now only 2' deep. No fish at all. Let's go to work.
I don't know why this river continues to hex and vex me, but I will beat it.
Next year.


Unknown said...

beautiful pics!

Kirk Mantay said...

Thanks Trey - would have traded them for some ugly pics of gigantic fish!

{nUtTyPrOfFeSsOr} said...

When this guy shoots, he's so hip!

Kirk Mantay said...

hey at least i don't forget to put a shell in the chamber...

tugboatdude said...

Nicely done on both accounts hahaha

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