Heading out to the Gunpowder River? Check out the most recent report of the stream from Mike Slepesky
The Gunpowder River is in transition, so be versatile and ready to adapt when out there. Pictured above is Mark, with one of his personal best brown trout on the river. On this trip, we caught fish steadily on a dry dropper set up, and this fish eagerly made a splashy rise for a terrestrial! After starting the day nymphing, a switch in tactics yielded quite the variety of fish and we are starting to see fish get into summer mode.
Current Stream Temps- 50-56 degrees! (Ideal water temps, get out there!!!!)
Current Stream Levels- 58.2 cfs; has dropped in the last few weeks, but flows are still good and consistent!
Current Bugs- Sulphurs, Caddies, BWO, Some terrestrials available too
Use the advice below to help you net a few more fish the next time you step out on the Gunpowder River!
Tip #1 - Fish are looking up!
Most of my recent trips have been half day trips from 3-7 PM. What we are finding is from around 5 PM until dusk that fish are eagerly coming up and eating. As a result, we have successfully been using a dry dropper system to catch them on the surface and on top. Our best success have been on Caddis and Walts Worms, as well as Terrestrials and CDC France Flies.
One key to our success on the dry dropper is how we set up the rig/system. I treat my set up the same for a tandem nymph rig as I do for dry dropper. Here is the general breakdown. I use my Tight Lining Leader, I add on about 5 feet of 6x tippet and then double surgeons knot in an extra 18 inches of 6x as well. When I connect these two pieces of tippet with the surgeons knot, the result is a nice 5-6" "tag", where I have my dry fly tied in. Usually I use a size 12-16 fly as a dry. I will trail a small weighted fly, typically a size 18, below that on the "point". What I particularly love about this set up is:
Direct contact to your dry for better dead drifts
The dry fly, on the tag, allows for no obstruction for when a fish eats they can swallow the fly; not as easy to hook a fish when tied off the bend of a hook, like most do
The ability to bounce your fly/"dance" it/skate on surface with purpose
Can easily switch right back to nymphs when done dry dropper by taking the dry off and adding back on a nymph to the tag
A pic of Brian catching one of 10 fish! We had success on top and subsurface. This great 13' Gunpowder River brown was nymphed up on a Blow Torch right by a submerged structure. The drift had to be perfect, and thankfully it produced a wonderful wild fish.
Tip #2 - Hunt the Deeper Holes
With the recent drop in flows, fishing has changed some. Although fish can still be found in the riffles aggressively feeding, they are not as well spread out throughout the river system, as they were in May. Our best days on the water have been where a riffle turns into a deep hole. For example, rivers take on the general breakdown of riffle, run, pool. Although the Gunpowder is not a particularly deep water system, there are deep holes if you put in the miles. Our best days have been in the run leading into the pool. Due to the lower water, fish have been forced to concentrate a bit more and those runs are a buffet line to pump food into the pool for fish to gorge. Moreover, because fish are starting to eat more consistently on top, they can easily feed on the surface in the slower water. Things to be mindful of in this scenario:
Keep your feet out of the water if possible; if not wade slow and lightly to avoid spooking wary trout
Work your dries/dry dropper close to structure
Dry fly fish or dry dropper the evening hatch
A pic of Shaun from a recent independent section. He was fishing a CDC France Fly and working some of the heavier and deeper water areas of the river. As a result, it produced his personal best trout of 17", great job Shaun!
Tip #3 - Lower Flow=Different Approach/Tactics
Tight Line Nymphing has become my bread and butter over the years. It is my preferred method and most tried and true technique to catch fish. The versatility of the Mono Rig lends itself to a variety of ways to catch fish. With that said, there are current elements of the river the require micro-adjustments to fish successfully. Here are some of those things to consider:
Single Nymphs are likely more than enough to get down given the low flows
Lower flows require more stealth on your approach; cast from further away and position yourself downstream of the fish
Lead with your rod tip a bit more horizontally and ahead of drift; don't stick your arm straight out to nymph and get on top of your drift. You will snag too often in lower flows
The tailwater is your friend! Most of the spring I found myself fishing the lower section of the river. With water warming down there, fish are moving up some and I am getting closer to the dam to find the temperature regulated water.
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.