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Gunpowder River Report: 11/22/23

Heading out to the Gunpowder River? Check out the most recent report of the stream from Mike Slepesky

A beautiful shot of one of the gorges to chase beautiful wild brown trout through the hillside.

Current Stream Temps- 49-53 degrees! These are still ideal fall temps and the fishes metabolism is in optimal feeding conditions.

Current Stream Levels- 29-89 cfs; levels have DECREASED after a recent two week increase in release from the Prettyboy Dam, which made for good fishing. However, flows are back down. We just got a good rain event, so it should remain stable and the lower you go in the system the higher the flows will be.

Current Bugs- BWO and Midges. Given it is fall, consider baitfish patterns and sculpins, as well as leeches.

Use the advice below to help you net a few more fish the next time you step out on the water!

Tip #1 - Meat will get the job done!

Do you fish streamers on the Gunpowder? If not, you should be! I nymphed for about 30 minutes this morning. I played with my depths, weights, fly selection and nothing to hand. I then decided to tie on a CDC Bugger and that was the ticket! A dozen plus wild trout later, I had figured out what they were in the mood for.

One of many to be fooled by the jig streamer. They were aggressively feeding and not short striking the fly, which made for an action packed couple of hours.

Fall is a great time of year to convince a trout to eat a heftier meal. There are two simple reason why:

  1. They are preparing to spawn and need to bulk up/have already spawned and need to put weight back on.

  2. Bug life has died down and they are running short of viable food sources.

I do think bulky streamers and large profile flies will net fish, and in many cases nice fish. However, a nice middle ground to keep action consistent are flies like CDC Buggers, Sculp Snacks and Jiggy Buggers.

Tip #2 - Low and slow

We are entering post spawn and soon enough winter conditions. Fish are either tired from the spawn, or possibly the cold mornings and water temps will have them acting a little sluggish. As a result, it is a good idea to make sure your nymph or streamer is weighted appropriately to get down in the strike zone. I found, as I worked my streamer, fish preferred it on the drop/descent. I had a couple aggressively chase it or swipe. However, the vast majority preferred it being dropped right into their hiding place and eating the streamer as it fell to the bottom. An occasional twitch also worked to induce a take or predatory response as well.

Tip #3 - Watch out for redds

Anyone reading this article is likely an educated and responsible angler. If you listen to the Troutbitten podcast then you likely heard their detailed conversation about fishing during the spawn. I personally fish year round. However, from November through March I am highly cognizant of where fish are staging, have staged, or may be likely to have spawned. These areas in the river stand out in early fall and we call them "redds". It is critically important we as anglers do not fish to any wild fish that are actively spawning. Moreover, it is our responsibility to make sure we do not step on the redds, even months after the fish have left, as trout eggs have not fully developed and hatched. Here are some friendly tips to ease your concerns:

  1. Watch for these formations in tailouts of riffles

  2. Look for them in slow shallow pools

  3. Any collection of pebbles or small rocks is a likely spot

  4. If the bottom is suddenly clean or cleared out avoid wading

  5. When fish are chasing others away or paired up

  6. In front of downed trees with good flows

There are surely more situations you may run into as an angler. However, these are some of the more common I run into. My suggestion is simply stay out of the water as much as possible. As long as we are are being conscientious then you are likely doing your part to help the future of fishing on your local rivers.

Thanks to Shaun Burke for sharing a picture of one of the redds he saw on a recent trip in the Gunpowder. I did not see any on Falls Rd during my most recent trip. However, be mindful as you approach lower sections as the temps there have allowed for them to start their annual ritual.

Get your boots wet and chase down some fish!

I hope this report, with tips included, helps you the next time you head out to the Gunpowder River. Be sure to head over to my Youtube Channel and see the latest adventure, head over to the store for euro nymphs for your next outing, and consider booking a trip for the summer through the website.

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