Copyright 2013 James Marsh
Fly Fishing Guide to the Big Gunpowder Falls River, Maryland
The best fishing is in the catch and release section or the first seven miles below the dam. The
area below the seven mile catch and release section, is managed as a "trophy trout" section.
Only two trout over 16 inches can be taken. It also provides very good fishing. There are
several designated trails that access the river.
Low discharges from Prettyboy Reservoir can sometimes make fishing tough sometimes in the
Catch and Release Section but the fishing is generally good year-round. The stream can
become crowded at times during the spring season, but it is usually the weekends that sees
the most anglers.
As mentioned in the introduction, most of the trout are brown trout. Large brown trout rarely hit
a dry fly. There are rare occasions it does happen but your odds are far better fishing a wet fly
or nymph. The bottom is fairly level in most sections and strike indicators work okay most of
the time. Double or tandem fly rigs also seem to work well on the Big Gunpowder Falls River.
It is far better to use an imitation of an aquatic insect that is near its time to hatch than generic
nymphs. Specific imitations of the mayfly nymphs that are most available for the trout to eat
are far more productive than the generic flies. The wild brown trout are usually very selective.
Streamers and wet flies also work great for the larger brown trout at certain times. The river
has plenty of minnow, baitfish and sculpin and imitations of them are productive early and late
in the day, or during heavy cloud cover. They can also be effective when the water has some
color or tint to it.
The brown trout spawn during the fall. The spawning activity causes them to loose a lot of their
normal caution. They are out and about moving around rather than hidden up under a rock or
undercut bank. You can often spot them moving upstream during the pre-spawn period. Large
nymphs and streamer work great at this time. We don't recommend fishing for them on their
You should always obtain the current stream flow data prior to fishing the Big Gunpowder Falls
River. We have a link on the introduction page for this information. You should also exercise
caution when fishing the tailwater. It is subject to suddenly rise. The stream levels affect the
fishing greatly. You cannot wade if there is too much water being released. During periods of
low flows, the trout can become easy to spook, making fishing much tougher. It does provide
more opportunity to sight fish but all in all, low water levels are difficult to fish.
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Big Gunpowder Falls