Fly Fishing, Forest and Copperheads

I just got back from one of my favorite fly fishing spots which is the Gunpowder river north of Baltimore Maryland. At first I tried several deep pools near the state park picnic area but it was though the river was dead. No fish but one went after my wooly bugger. Unlike many trout streams this one contains only wild brown trout. These fish are quite hard for most people to catch since they will not take just any trout fly. At any rate I tried to fish the area below the picnic tables. As I was walking down to a pool by a washed out bridge, I saw a grey snake slither amongst the rocks. It did not look venomous but it gave me a few chills. I walked a little further passing the circle for unloading rafters and canoeists and another snake slithered amongst the grass giving me more chills. I came upon a sign that venomous copperhead snakes had been sighted in the park. A bite from a copperhead is not as bad as that from a rattlesnake but a hospital visit is still necessary. I wonder if a bunch of anglers came up with this idea to scare people-the Gunpowder receives a lot of fishing pressure and any reduction would make these wild brown trout a little easier to catch.

I tried the pool by the washed out bridge, then the pool below it and so on and nothing. Every step I took through the tall grass along the side of the stream was done carefully to avoid coming into contact with one of the poisonous snakes. Apparently snakes of all varieties are enjoying a wild brown trout dinner from time to time. Venomous snakes have an advantage in that they can kill a fish quickly. Since the fish were not biting, I took time out to photograph the fern forest in the lower section of the fly fishing section of the Gunpowder river. This forest is exceptionally beautiful with vibrant green color. Last time I took photos of the forest was in 2004. This time the light was overcast and I had to use a steady hand to get some photos. I usually do not take a tripod with me when fishing.

I gave up fishing the lower section and then drove up to falls road bridge. In the evening the river came alive with trout rising to flies in several of the big pools below the bridge. I tried several dries and hooked several trout in succession. Both fish got off. I heard a big gulp and observed a huge trout rising to a fly. I cast to the fish but nothing, no takers. The evening rise stopped and it was time to go home. On the way back to my car I talked to woman kayaker. She was not familiar with fly fishing but did talk to several anglers about the slow fishing. The Gunpowder can be slow and tough offering maybe a few fish during certain times of the day. Though fishing is slow, Gunpowder river trout are vividly colored unlike hatchery trout. There are a few 24" trout in the stream though catching one of these fish is like winning the lottery. Maybe my luck will change with fall coming. The evening rise seems to be the best bet right now and I will need to experiment with some dry flies to see what works best.

Photo credits: Audines, Darren Green, Andy Nowack, Richard Gunion.

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