May 19-21, 2017 Savage River Campout

When I left home Friday morning, the North Branch of the Potomac at Barnum, WV was running at over 400 cfs, the lower Savage was at about 350 cfs, the upper Savage was at about 80 cfs, and the Casselman was at about 140 cfs (about 1.6'). Based on Jay Sheppard's flow information the better fishing was going to be on the upper Savage (and it's tributaries) and the Casselman. Looking at the gages after the trip, the lower Savage was at 230 cfs from about noon Friday until noon Saturday when it was lowered to about 190 cfs. Yesterday, they lowered it to about 130 and today its at about 90 cfs so the fishing on the lower Savage should be good now that we're not their! On the way up, I encountered an accident near the paper factory in Luke where a logging truck was going too fast around a sharp curve and ended up on its side making Rt 135 a single lane road so it took a little extra time getting through Luke. When I stopped at the Savage River Outfitters to get a few flies and talk with Mike Evans about the fishing conditions it was almost noon. He said we could fish the lower Savage on the edges in softer water at places like the 7x pool and the PhD pool.

I stopped at the PhD pool since Lou Reichel was already fishing there. He had arrived at about 10 AM and had already caught a nice brown trout. At Monroe Pavilion, while I was setting up my tent, George Oprsyzko and Rodger Johnson arrived. After everybody was setup, I think George and Lou went to the upper Savage while Rodger and I went to Crab Tree Run where I observed a few sulphurs and a couple of Blue Quills. While we were out fishing, Bob and Priscilla O'Donnell, Todd Parks, Tom Brosnan, and Jonathan Sholtis arrived and while some of them were setting up their camping stuff, it poured hard for a few minutes at the pavillion but at Crab Tree Run, we only experienced a few drops at most. Both Rodger and I caught a few brookies in a little over 2 hours of fishing before returning to the campground. I think Jonathon caught a brookie on Big Run just prior to dinner.

There was no shortage of food for the Friday night dinner. Some of us grilled steak or hamburgers including Jonathon who shared some of his elk steak with the rest of us. Thank you Jonathon. The O'Donnells grilled two type of brats and baked enough potatoes for everybody. Thank you Bob and Priscilla. George cooked a medley of vegetables that were shared with the crew. Thank you George. Todd brought Carolina pulled pork for everybody. Thank you Todd. Chips, snacks, fruit, cookies, and macaroni salad were available also thanks to severals people. We definitely followed Dennis Covert's 100 mile rule (no restrictions on food intake if you're 100 miles from home). Now we just need somebody to bring exercise equipment to work off the excess calorie intake! Greg Sholly and Lee Canby arrived after dinner to round out the crew.

George cooking vegetables

Bob and Rodger tending the grill

A nice section of Big Run

Saturday, everybody went different ways. Lou fished the lower Savage catching browns at the PhD and 7x pools and the Casselman where he caught some rainbows. The O'Donnells fished both the upper and lower Savage catching several fish. Priscilla earned her honorary PhD catching a brookie at the PhD pool. Congratulations! I think Tom and George fished the upper Savage and Poplar Lick catching several. Jonathon fished several different places on both the upper and lower Savage and its tributaries and reported catching 8 for the day - great day Jonathon! I'm not sure where Greg and Lee fished in the morning but they joined Todd who spent the entire day fishing Big Run. All caught several brookies there. Todd observed 3 newts along Big Run and several of us observed one at the campground. Todd asked if trout eat newts? Does anybody have a pattern? Maybe a bright orange woolly bugger would look close enough to the newt! Rodger and I fished the upper Savage at the Westernport Road bridge and near the mouth of Poplar Lick along with Poplar Lick. We both caught some fish at these locations but Rodger lost a large rainbow at the Westernport bridge while I was napping in the car.

Lee on Big Run

Red Spotted Newt

Lou's 14" Brown

At dinner Saturday evening, Rodger and Lou provided the meat and vegetables for the excellent beef stew that Rodger cooked. Jonathon grilled some elk and mule deer hamburgers along with sauteed onions & O'Donnell's potatoes (leftovers from Friday) that were shared by the group. Again there was no shortage of food. Insects observed at the campground included a yellow drake? (size 10), sulphurs (one female with an orange egg sac), yellow stoneflies, craneflies, lighting bugs, and other midges. While sitting around the fire, we observed a brown snake? Some thought we may add snake to the dinner menu! I was a little squirmy when I went to bed since my tent was closest to the fireplace but fortunately, I had no visitor that night.

An uninvited guest

BSing after dinner

Todd's Tent outside of the pavilion

Sunday morning, I got up and went to the restroom and found what looks like a Salmonfly. Do we have Salmonfly hatches in western Maryland? After everybody packed up, most of us fished for a couple of hours or so before heading home. George caught a brookie on Poplar Lick, Tom caught a ~12" brookie at the mouth of Crabtree Run. Rodger and I fished the PhD pool. I caught a 13.5" brown on a caddis fly but the photo didn't turn out, lost a second fish that took the same fly as it sunk in the current at the end of the drift, and lost my two fly rig when another brown hit the caddis fly and I lifted the rod only to find no flies or fish. I failed to follow Jay's recommendation of periodically checking your leader and tippet for possible nicks and weaknesses. I did not hear how others did on Sunday. All my hookups were on top with the elk wing caddis and yellow foam and all of George's were caught with a Yellow Sally. Both of us tried several other patterns but to no avail.

Tom's Brookie

Salmon Fly?

Norhtern Red Salamander

Ken's (top) & George's Flies

Be sure to mark your calendars for our October Savage River Campout when we return to Monroe Pavilion. We have the pavilion reserved for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights, October 6-8, 2017 and the cost of $180 will be shared equally by each camper. This will be another great opportunity to explore the many fishing options in western Maryland.

Tight Lines,
Ken Bowyer