Heading out to the Gunpowder River? Check out the most recent report of the stream from Mike Slepesky
The Gunpowder River has been consistent all summer. However, a drop in flows today will certainly put a wrinkle in things until consistent rain enters the forecast. Read more to see how you can adapt!
Current Stream Temps- 52-58 degrees! (Ideal water temps, get out there!!!!)
Current Stream Levels- 27-60 cfs; Sadly the flows just dropped today to 27 cfs, we are back to typical low summer flows.
Current Bugs- sporadic midges, sulphurs. Mostly terrestrials.
Use the advice below to help you net a few more fish the next time you step out on the Gunpowder River!
Tip #1 - It is terrestrial season!
One of the most consistent times to dry fly fish, I believe, is the middle of summer. Why you may ask? Simply because there are less hatches occurring and fish start to key into opportunistic meals that fall in near the banks near overhanging brush. Patterns like ants, beetles, hoppers, etc. have all been successful on trips since late June. I have spoken with anglers on the water using double dry fly set ups, such as Beetles and Caddis to give fish their pick of the litter. What is great about terrestrials patterns is their overall buoyancy. I love fishing them as a dry dropper. Their foam bodies help give you a great way to drop a nymph a few inches subsurface and take fish on top and bottom.
Tip #2 - Focus on the heads of runs
Fish are predictable, if you really think about it. They want to expend the least amount of energy for the most amount of food. Also, when they are in specific types of water, they are there for a purpose. As a result of those two points coalescing, I love to fish shallow runs/riffles that most would not and walk right past. For example, on a recent trip we were catching trout in faster water all morning. I went to go assist another angler on a guided trip and I hear "I got one!". Then, I notice the angler is now facing a different direction on the river then where I left him. This was because he hooked a 16" trout, in the head of a run, and it immediately went on a run across the stream.
As soon as I got to the angler, my first question was where was the fish when you hooked it? He pointed to water that was 8-12" in depth and most would have never suspected that fish was in that lie. However, lets break it down for a second. Why would that fish be holding in white water like shallow conditions?
Highly oxygenated water with the faster moving current
A buffet line of food being brought to him in this moving water
Turbulence dislodges bugs and allows extra opportunities for nymphs
Harder to be seen by prey in broken water
First feeding lane available of the section of water, so bigger fish tend to occupy these feeding lanes and push out smaller fish
To sum up this school of though. Fish the riffles this time of year. The fish are in there for a reason. Skip the deeper water, or minimally spend less time in them. I am not saying they aren't in there. However, if they are in the deeper water, it is likely they are there to rest and not eat.
Tip #3 - Fools gold
There may be no more exciting and pure way to catch a fish on a fly rod than by taking it on a dry fly. As a result, when we see a splashy rise, or a bubble on the surface, from a rise form, we all get excited. However, we must consider a few things:
Is that rise in water trout typically reside in? (It could be a chub/fallfish)
Did the fish rise only once, or more?
Are there an active hatches going on?
All of these considerations run through my mind before we chase what I call "fools gold". Seeing one single fish rise only one time is not worth stopping and fishing to in my opinion. What we should be looking for is multiple rises from multiple fish in order to better assess how active the fish are feeding. Remember, 90 percent of a trout's diet is subsurface. Do you really want to be caught wasting time on the water chasing fish that likely won't yield you positive results?