Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Catching Big Trout in Baltimore's Shadow

It's ironic that after living in Baltimore for 13 years, I found this place completely by accident.  Let me amend that.  It's absolutely perfect that I found this place by accident after 13 years of searching for it.

I was fighting a cold that was soon to become tonsillitis, but this place's magnetism kept me moving down the road, down into the floodplain, and into the cobbled riverbed.   A rainy cold front was headed into town, and I knew the fish would be hungry.  This was no time to be sick.

More importantly, I knew the nearby Patapsco River was being stocked with fat, dumb trout, so in fact, every angler within 30 miles of Baltimore would be THERE and not HERE.  I hear they caught a lot of fish - big ones, too. With live worms. That's okay. That place is theirs.  This is mine.

I recently broke the tip off of my ultralight rig, so I fished light tackle.  I started with inline spinner flies on unweighted line, and while I could see trout and smallmouth bass in the pools, the lightweight flies drifted high in the current and landed me a slew of fallfish - not what I came here to catch.  So I rigged up with two tin slipweights and started burning flies across eddy currents in deep pools and drifting other flies to the end of shallow riffles, where I know rainbow trout like to hang out, waiting for dead and dying insects.

The weights turned out to be the key.  Within about 10 minutes, I had hooked two nice brown trout in the 8-10" range.  One threw the hook when he took to the air (that was new), another threw the hook right at the shoreline.  Then, five river chubs in a row (that's the problem with weighting the line).   Finally, during a intermittent retrieve across a very tough pool under a rhododendron and a boulder, I hooked into this fella.  Indulge me - at 13-14", he was my biggest brown trout in about five years. 



Amazingly, my luck didn't stop there.  I worked downstream a bit - it got a bit dicey in my chestwaders, and found quite a few feisty juvenile smallmouth bass with pretty bright red eyes....

And as I was nearing the end of my wade, I had a chance to focus on a pool that gave me a lot of trouble the last two times I fished here.  There are two eddies, lots of sharp rocks, and a rootball to work around.  But I just knew there would be fish in there.  I worked the pool for almost ten minutes with nothing but some sunfish and river chub to show for it.  And then, in a moment of concentration, I worked the fly through the upstream eddy one last time, and as it sunk into the darkness, the line moved.  Across the river......

This was a meaty rainbow trout for sure, and just like the last one I caught of this length, who was probably half the weight of this guy, I immediately regretted releasing him, but am still glad to have done so.

This is a special place.  No one would believe that this is less than 15 miles from Baltimore City, and that this river feeds the water supply reservoirs that 1.5 million people depend on every day.  And yet, it's here.

I can't wait to go back.



6 comments:

Jeni said...

Glad you found a great spot to escape to...loved seeing the fish up close so I can tell what's what.

DirteJp said...

Beautiful get-away spot with great looking fish! Tonsillitis or not, well done. Awesome pictures of the fish too. That brown was really nice, and the rainbow was a hoss! Good looking close up of the red-eye small mouth too. Great write-up.

Mike said...

Don't you love finding your own stretch of river. Let the others chase the fat, dumb stockers. Enjoy your solitude.

Leigh said...

Great post - it's always good to find your own water.

tugboatdude said...

You have been hiding this one from me as well!Glad to see you caught some keeper size trout and decided to put them back.Always a great feeling knowing you could have eaten it but didn't.

River Mud said...

Oh, we'll fish it T. My friend Mike asked where it was and I told him, "downhill from Dick Cheney's bunker." I also invited him to fish it with me.

Jen - thanks for stopping by & glad you enjoyed it.

D-JP - yes, that was a hoss of a rainbow. I called our local DNR fish guy and he said they haven't stocked up there in years, but there is a spring stocking site about 10 miles downstream, so this one is a holdover from Spring 2010 or earlier...

Mike & Leigh - it's mine! All mine! Seriously, in 4 trips, never seen another angler there. It's totally public. But unadvertised.