October 2011 Outing

Western Maryland Campout (October 14-16)

Poplar Lick Brookie

Poplar Lick Path

Ken's Brown

Lou's Rainbow

Another of Lou's

Town Creek Upstream

Town Creek Downstream

The Steaks are cooking

Dick at the PhD Pool


October Caddis (The Big Orange!)

Tim Bowers and I were woofing down breakfast at McDonalds when Lou Reichel called. He said he was at exit 51 by Cumberland and going to give Town Creek a shot and just letting us know in case we wanted to join him. An hour and half later, when we passed the exit, rain was pounding off the pavement. We considered it, and then decided the water was probably muddied up by then and went on. We could have chosen better as it turned out. Lou landed eleven good rainbows between twelve and fifteen inches during that rain and it was the best fishing on the outing.

Getting to Savage River forest a light rain was still coming down so we decided to hit the pavilion first and set up the tents. By the time we were done the weather was clearing, a grey sky in full retreat surrendered to bright sunshine that teased color off the ridge lines.

Every year we intend to fish Poplar Lick in fall, and every year we end up at some other spot drawn by reports of large fish or large catches but this, we decided, was the year.

The path along the creek is an old roadbed carpeted in gold with newly fallen leaves and easy walking between fishable water. Dark little pools and choppy runs overhung with hemlock gurgled through a mesh of mountain laurel. The brookies are small in size but big in beauty and truly wild; fresh from the creek adorned with bright fuchsia spots and red tipped fins they gleam like porcelain. We spent the rest of the morning and well into the afternoon drifting elk hair caddis and parachute Adams catching several, two really nice ones of nine or ten inches.

Back at camp later that afternoon Dick Friss, Ken Bowyer and Lou rolled in. Dick brought some smoked salmon pate’ that was delicious, and as we unloaded the fire wood and set up the grill we heaped gobs of it on crackers. Within an hour we had steaks on the grill and a fire in the hearth. While things cooked Ken and Dick both reported having some success, Dick got a brown in the pool just below the suspension bridge dam on a price nymph, and Ken got a brown between the suspension bridges on a pink San Juan worm. Of course Lou was the top rod with the eleven Town Creek bows he had caught earlier that morning. After hard days fishing nothing tastes better than steaks cooked over open coals with baked potato on the side. Adding to that Ken brought cole slaw, macaroni, and cookies for desert. Everybody was stuffed. Later that night the rain came back hard enough it woke me up and I could hear the campers across the road taking shelter in their vehicles. But under that pavilion roof we were dry and snug.

Next morning started pleasant enough but the wind began to pick up speed. Patrick Masler got there before we left camp talking about the great color he saw on a hillside that was visible even in low light. Everybody assembled we decided to fish the lower Savage down by the steel bridge. It looked promising, but after an hour and not even a flash I was thinking up river. Finding Tim and Lou I asked if they wanted to go, both saying “yep”, although Tim had just released a rainbow taken on a black nymph.

Dick and Ken went to the PhD pool where Dick got a brown rainbow and a rainbow - one on a prince nymph, the other on an olive stump buster. Ken got a rainbow above the PhD pool on a prince nymph. They also fished the upper Savage where it had recently been stocked and Poplar Lick at its confluence with the Savage where the rain really had water shooting through. Neither spot, they said, produced any fish.

There are some really nice pools up close to the dam that fished well in August and that’s where Lou, Tim, and I headed leaving Patrick at the PhD Pool. Three or four other anglers were already there, so I slid into a long pool below them and Tim and Lou went above. By this time the wind was becoming an issue but not overly burdensome. I hadn’t seen a rise all morning and had no bumps on anything. Working through my flies I finally hooked a nice brown on caddis pupae. Only about 13 inches, he put up such scrap I thought I had snagged him, but after getting him in my fly was solidly in the roof of his mouth. Moving up river where I expected to find Tim and Lou, the upper pool was vacant. I fished it until the wind got so radical it was blowing my fly line into the shoreline scrub. Heading back I ran into Patrick who was coming up to see if a tree might have fallen on me, everybody else had already come back. Taking a long shot we drove down to the confluence of the Savage and North Branch to see what it looked like, but at 680 CFS even a kayaker we talked to was calling it a day. We did wade out a few feet and make some casts but it was treacherous even close to the bank. Patrick stayed on the PhD pool where he said he finally got the skunk off catching a small rainbow.

Stopping to get firewood, Tim and I got back to camp to find the rest of the crew already there. We got a good fire roaring in the hearth, put on a pot of deer chili, and loaded up the grill with sausage then settled in to a few beers and Dick’s famous smoked salmon pate’ while supper cooked. Rodger Johnson had arrived and set a nice bottle wine on the table, a few minutes later dinner was done. It’s amazing the effects a couple of drinks, some steaming bowls of chili and grilled sausage can have on this crowd. It was a full day on the Savage but there were no tales of bravado and no tying vices appeared to copy the bugs we half heartedly tried to catch as they were drawn to the light. Mostly we just slumped into chairs or sat at the picnic table close up by the fire. Full and warm we began to sink. Yawns and glassy-eyed stares into the flames replaced jokes and jibes. Dick, getting quiet, caused me to look over his way to see him in a tough fight with the sand man. He was almost pinned, but then rallied to shake him off and announce to Ken that it was time to head for the motel at Keyser WV where they were staying.

The rest of us stayed up a while longer, mostly just trying to burn up all the wood we brought, but by 10 pm we were snug in our tents. Around 1 am the wind had gotten so rowdy I was wondering if some trees might come down. Laying there I could hear the trees groan from wild gusts, a lull then more groans. I had seen trees down along the river that day and was glad to be under the pavilion.

The next morning all was calm. We broke camp and headed to our chosen locations. Lou and Rodger hit Bear Creek, Patrick stayed on the Savage, Tim and I headed for Town Creek, Ken and Dick were already there ahead of us.

Patrick got two rainbows out of the upper pool on pink and green San Juan worms. He found a few risers at the 7X pool and gave them a go but no luck. Tim and I ran into Ken and Dick on their way back out of Town creek. They said the water was higher than usual and that they had a tough time wading. They fished for a while but after no strikes they gave it up. Tim and I went on down to take a look then decided to make a exploring drive up through Green Ridge instead of fishing. Nice drive and we found Fifteen Mile Creek on our way out. Lou and Rodger struck out at Bear so Lou headed back to Town Creek catching five more rainbows, a total of sixteen bows for the trip. Dang! It seems like it was just yesterday we were showing him how to hold the rod, and now he’s out-fishing everybody.

It was a good outing. The weather is always unpredictable the second week of October, and we could have done without all that wind, but the autumn color makes up for whatever else, and I think we have decided to do it at the same time the same way next year.

Dennis Covert