May/June Outing 2019 - Western Maryland Campout

When:  May 31, June 1 & 2, 2019

Where:  Monroe Pavilion at Big Run State Park, Savage River

Participants:  Ken Bowyer, Rodger Johnson, Lou Reichel, Joe Taylor, Erin and Chuq Yang

The weather was great, a little on the warm side, only a small shower Sunday morning ending by 10 am.  The flows on the lower Savage was good at 240 cfs.  After the lower Savage white water release on Saturday at 1000 cfs, the flow on the next day, Sunday, came down to 240 cfs.  The North Branch was high at around 400 cfs.  There were multiple hatches of different mayflies and caddis including sulfurs, march browns, green drakes and coffin flies, other unidentified mayflies, and tan and black caddies, lime and yellow sallies (stoneflies).

Arrived on Friday and started at the PHD pool with march brown mayflies hatching.  Very little, to no fish activity.  We all moved down stream below the Alleghany swinging bridge and fished towards and into the evening.  I noticed mayflies and caddis flying around and birds swooping down grabbing the insects in flight.  Ken was quickly on a brown using a daddy long leg (or crane fly).  Across the stream I could see some trout rising to insects near the rocks on the bank.  The current was swift on some places and proper casting and mending were required.  I had multiple hits on a renegade, but unable to hook the trout due to excess mending line and slack leader.  However I was proud of myself with some good presentations and able to catch 2 good browns in the 12” range.  I could see their nose come up and grab the renegade without any splash.  One trout had a last run just before the net and got into swift water and was gone.  I still had the renegade which I tied in Bob Dietz fly tying class. 

Our newbie Joe is becoming, or is, a great trout magnet.  He left us for hours, returning late in the night, and found a secrete spot and was able to catch some big browns in the 14-16” range.  You will have to ask him where is his secret spot.  I am bound to secrecy.  I believe he was using sulfurs and dark caddis dry flies and a pheasant tail soft hackle (with a green thorax).  Joe did give me his favorite pheasant tail soft hackle that he ties, but I lost it in a bush!

That evening we pitched our tents, started the charcoal, and grilled our dinner, sat around the campfire that was masterfully started by Erin Yang.  I was finally able to get some great ghost stories told by Erin around the campfire in the dark woods.  Unfortunately, no howling owls nor coyotes. 

On Saturday morning Ken, Joe and Chuq woke up early and fished the lower Savage, before the high water release, hoping to hit an early morning spinner fall, the coffin fly.  Their report was the flows were OK, but no spinner fall.  I and Rodger stayed behind for eggs and bacon breakfast.

We planned to fish the upper Savage near Popular Lick.  Some campers of course said we should have been there last night for a great green drake hatch and active trout.  Again Ken started us off catching some brookies, rainbows, and a golden trout using his favorite Copper John brassie, royal Wulff, daddy long leg.  Joe again was a trout magnet and every 15 minutes catching brookies using sulfur, caddis flies, Royal Wullf and soft hackles.  One brookie in the 10” range.  We also met Bob Kaiser there.  We fished the area till about 8:00pm.  Saw some green drakes and coffin flies but no major hatch.  I was working on this one large brookie, at least 10”, that kept rising every 20-30 minutes.  I tried multiple flies, caddis, sulfurs, green drakes, soft hackles, midges.  I finally got it on the first cast using for the first time a suspended sulfur emerger I tied in Bob Dietz fly tying class.

That evening we were checked by the Park police for a second time!  I don’t know if PPTU is becoming too rowdy or suspicious characters.  I was not there but was told by Erin, the only person there, that they saw my PPTU sticker, received after paying my ASC, on my van and decided we were properly licensed.

Sunday morning we packed, a short rain storm for less than 30 min finishing by 10:00am.  The flows on the lower Savage were back down to 240 cfs after the white water release.  Jay reports that the fish are active after a white water release.  I would have fished the PHD pool but two people were already there.  Traveling downstream I noticed some other fisherman out and about.  I was thinking Joe’s secret spot but I wanted to try the North Branch, but its flow was too fast so I left for home.  Ken fished the lower Savage at the Alleghany bridge and lower iron bridge using a march brown, coffin fly, rusty spinner and dark caddis.  A large brown came up to inspect the march brown but didn’t strike.  Joe went for more brookies fishing CrabtreeCreek and reported catching more brookies.

The trip was fun.  I will see everyone in October 11-14 for the next Western MD Campout at Monroe Pavilion in Big Run State Park and fishing the great Savage River.

PS - we may stay at a cabin in nearby New Germany State Park, especially trying to get out the non-camping members.  Any thoughts let Lou know.


Lou Reichel

Outings Coordinator

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