When anglers talk about planning their next fly fishing trip in the U.S. many of the first regions that comes to mind are usually Alaska and the North West for trout and salmon, the Gulf for Redfish and Spotted Sea Trout, and possibly the North East for Atlantic Salmon and Striped Bass. Many overlook the Mid-Atlantic region and I can’t understand why.
I recently took a trip back to Maryland to see family and friends, and while there I took advantage of the great fishing opportunities available in the Chesapeake Bay region. My first stop was to the small creeks around the town I grew up in. Small spring creeks surrounded by lush forest and a variety of wildlife, exposing granite boulders in the stream bed and filled with a variety of fish species. Most of these creeks have been continuously stock with brown and rainbow trout for decades, and although the region is too warm for the rainbows to survive, the brown trout make it through the hot summers and are able to reproduce to a small extent.
The trout fishing is good but the real reason I brought my gear back this time of year was for the bass fishing opportunities. The smallmouth fishing in the Baltimore/Washington area is world class, with the Susquehanna and the Potomac plus many of the local reservoirs having healthy, reproducing fish populations that produce trophies every year.
I didn’t pull out any trophies nor did I expect to. This trip was just to relax, to go back to the pools and runs where I taught myself to fly fish and look at the water with a new perspective. I headed to a little spring creek in Carrol County called Morgan Run, it starts up around Westminster, Maryland off route 97 and runs into Liberty Reservoir in Finksburg. I took my trusty Ross Essence FC 8’6” 5 weight and when I first got there I tied on a couple of nymphs and threw into a pool with a few trout in it. These fish were stocked about two months back so they weren’t all that difficult to fool. I quickly pulled out a few trout and then headed up stream. I was on a mission to what we call “the honey hole”.
I approached the hole and I instantly saw a smallmouth sitting behind a pile of sticks, maneuvering left and right, eating anything that floats its way. I was looking for large aggressive fish so I switched over to a white articulated minnow pattern. I threw it about 10 feet above it and started to strip it in. It didn’t budge, so I tossed it again, and again with the same result. I knew there were larger fish in here so I decided to try up around the large bolder laying in the creek. With the first retrieve I saw both trout and bass following it, none of them committed though so I tossed it in again and slowed down the retrieve, “BAM” something came up and slammed it. By the way it was fighting I could tell it was a bass, it was way too aggressive to be any of the trout that I would expect to be in this spot and as I worked it in my assumptions was correct. It was a bass, a decent one for the size of the creek; I reeled it in, took a few shots and quickly released it.
After being rewarded with that nice bass I decided to start my way back and run that streamer through some of the runs and pools I nymphed earlier. I managed to get a few more follows with some trout in the pools but as I was approaching the trailhead I saw a deep run with two small boulders leaning into it. I threw between the two boulders and as soon as it had become fully submerged “WHAM”, a bass had ran from one boulder to the other and sliced it! Knowing I might have one more chance at it, I waited a minute before I attempted it again, took a breath and tossed it at the back of the run in-between the two boulders. Gave it a few twitches and “BAM” he took it! I noticed that was a good spot for the little guy as I saw two dead minnows, a little larger than my streamer, float out from under the boulder he ran under after eating my fly. I was a little impressed it was still so aggressive even after having a full stomach. I released him back into the run and started my way back down the trail.
I couldn’t have asked for a better day, an easy hike through a thick forest and got into a variety of fish that were a blast on the old 5 weight. I got back to the car and headed home. This trip out was exactly what I was looking for, back on one of the old creeks where I taught myself how to fly fish, taking what I have learned in the years I have been gone and seeing what I could come up with.
I know I may be a little biased in my love for fishing this area but there are many overlooked fisheries and a variety of species from small to large mouth bass, pickerel and musky, multiple trout species fresh and saltwater variety, the opportunities are almost endless. If you haven’t already, next time you get some free time do a little research on some of the local fisheries around the Chesapeake Region and stay tuned for Part Two where I will write about my first Striped Bass trip on the Susquehanna Flats!