Heading out to the Gunpowder River? Check out the most recent report of the stream from Mike Slepesky
It is March and we are getting out of the winter phase of fishing and headed into a transitionary period for wild trout. Bugs are starting to come out in modest force, especially on days where the water hits 40 degrees or higher. I am seeing BWO, midges, and Little Black Stoneflies in good numbers!
Current Stream Temps- 39-44 degrees
Current Stream Levels- 65-100 cfs
Current Bugs- BWO, Little Black Stones, Midges
Don't step out into the water without checking out some advice, based on experiences on the stream, from your local guide.
Tip #1 - Fish Transition Water: Tail out of Riffles or Soft Spots closer to bank off of main riffle
Fish have been hunkered down most of the winter with cold air and water temps. Now is the time to start looking for fish to stage closer to where bugs are starting to live and be pushed downstream. I find that in the winter, people believe fish stack up in deep and slow water. However, that is simply not always true. On a recent guide trip, while demonstrating casting to a client, I picked up a nice 10" wild brownie in a shallow riffle, about 12 inches deep. Moral of the story: Don't be afraid to be different!
Tip #2 - Be sure you are weighted to get down
I love a good tandem nymph rig! The reason I fish two flies is for a couple reasons. Firstly, I like to have the weight to get the flies down. If fishing a single 2.5-3.0mm bead, sometimes that doesn't get the job done. Instead of using a split shot, I will often add an extra fly off the tag of a double surgeons knot. I like them about 18 inches apart to fish two areas of the water column. I also enjoy fishing two flies because I can often use it not just for weight, but for prospecting. I can fish a "flashier" fly like an egg, mop, Pat's Rubber Legs, and more, paired with a more natural fly, such as a Pheasant Tail nymph.
"The difference between a good angler and a great angler is one split shot." – Joe Humphreys
Tip #3 - K.I.S.S.
Keep is simple stupid! This time of year the bug life simply isn't there yet. You don't need to "match the hatch", flip rocks, and seine the water. I suggest you work with basic and tried and true patterns. Bugs like: Pheasant Tails, Frenchies, Hare's Ear, Walt's Worm, Sexy Walt's, (sz 14-18) are all staples in my box year round. However, in particular this time of year, I think they can shine given the bug life is starting to occur. When in doubt, it is still winter for a few more weeks and not every day are bugs coming off and fish actively eating. You may need to present them with a juicier piece of meat. In which case, I find I like to throw Jig Streamers, Wooly Buggers, and Pats Rubber Legs. These flies tend to produce when nothing else will, and the fish often smack your presentation to let you know they are interested!
Best of luck the next time you hit the stream!
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, and consider booking a trip for the spring through the website. Comment below about your recent experience on the water, I would love to hear about it!