PPTU October Outing, October 11-13, 2013
Western Maryland -- Savage River


White pants club. Steve Fletcher and Lou Reichel not pictured.

Camped at Big Run State Park. Tents were set up inside the Monroe Pavilion. Fished mainly the Savage River. For any new members the Savage River is a premier trout stream with rainbow, brown and brook trout and most of the river is mountain, rocky river lined with trees and rhododendrons. Overall had overcast and rainy Fall weather and some beautiful trout were caught in the Savage River including brown, brook, and rainbows. No major hatch was seen except possibly midge, #16-20 tan, and crane flies. Large orange-brown October caddis were seen at night around the lights of campsite.

Participates were Lou Reichel, Ken Bowyer, Mike Abramowitz, Art Friedlander, Rodger Johnson and two sons-in-law Jeremy Landis and Patrick Smith, Pat Masler and dad Pete, and Steve Fletcher. Special thanks to Steve for providing great homemade chili (spicy and sweet at the same time).

Weather was great for fishing and for possible mayfly hatches with cool temperatures, overcast skies and rain. Lots of rain. There were times of no rain, than lots of light drizzle, followed by light to full rain. The fall colors of the leaves were close to full spectrum from bright yellow to red. At least 2 weeks ahead of the Balt/Wash area. The water level was good, not high even with all the rain. The water color was also good and clear. Did not see any BWO hatches but did see, what I think, were large, tan midges in size 16-20. I did catch some in hand and don't think there were crane flies. Did see large crane flies flying around dipping and skating on surface.

Lou's brown at PHD pool, Simple 3-Hackle

After noticing the 7x pool occupied, Ken and I first stop at the PHD pool around 11:00 am with slight drizzle. No fish were rising. Did notice the large tree that was in middle of pool last year was gone. After my fifth cast using Simple 3-Hackle (Gelso and Coburn, Guide to Maryland Trout Fishing Catch and Release, 2006), in size 20, caught a 13 inch brown trout. Ken got a nice large trout using #18 parachute purple haze, I saw it splashing on surface, but it cut 3 ft of leader after getting into rocks. Overall, I got three brown trout using the sahme Simple 3-Hackle.

Lou's brook trout with Simple 3-hackle

Then Ken took me to a new part of Savage for me, between the two suspension bridges, Alleghany and Garret. Using the same fly I got three brown trout ranging from 6-10 inches. Again with the same fly. Casting very close to the bank in shallow water, just to get my line straight, I caught a nice 6 inch brook trout, full of color. I must admit I thought I was stuck on some leaves. Met up with Rodger Johnson and son-in-law, Pat. It was Pat's first time trout fishing with fly rod. It was very memorable for a first timer since I find the Savage River one of Maryland's premier trout stream, and a difficult river.

Ken's high stick technique, between bridges

Getting close to 5:00 pm, we went to the pavilion to set up camp inside the dry pavilion. Others showed up very shortly and had a nice warm campfire going in the pavilions fireplace. Art and Mike reported seeing 2-3 bear cubs crossing road above the dam. Art and Mike also came from fishing the North Branch and reported a few rainbows caught. Overall had 5 tents inside pavilion and two people stayed inside their car/truck. Two tents were put up outside the pavilion. A special thanks to Steve Fletcher for dinner and providing excellent homemade chili, at least 3 gallons, and corn bread. Everyone else provided chips, coleslaw and macaroni salad. The chili was great and Steve would not give the recipe. After talking around campfire about the days fishing, we tried to stay up past 9:00 pm, but everyone went to sleep early.

October Caddis

On both evenings saw the large October caddis, orange-brown. The caddis' were mostly attacking the lights inside the pavilion. Others commented that these were smaller than last year. Did not see any, nor hear reliable reports, of the caddis’ on the river during the day. Another fisherman said he saw them earlier on the river during the day, but he also said he caught between 50-70 trout and getting larger as the story continued.

Art's brown trout at Dam

Scuds in Stomach

Saturday was still overcast with drizzle and rain. After breakfast of oatmeal, eggs, bacon, toast, corn bread muffins and coffee, we all went to different sections of the Savage. Ken and I tried the 7x pool. Ken tried the lower section near the spillway with parachute madam X royal and dropper pheasant tail and then hares ear nymph with zero activity. Lou worked his way upwards and caught two browns with the same Simply 3-Hackle #20. Ken worked upwards also and changed to a Simple 3-Hackle and got a few hits. Near the upper section of 7x pool Ken saw some nice rainbow trout near log, but unable to catch them. Lou got his Simple 3-Hackle caught on the log and decided to walk out to upper chest level of water to retrieve his fly. Steve Fletcher and Patrick Masler were met at the 7x pool while we were eating lunch. After lunch Ken and I walked up towards the dam following path. We found Art already there with a 11 ft bamboo rod where he caught a nice 13-14 inch brown. Art was able to get a stomach sample and noted scuds in the trout's belly. Ken and I decided to walk downstream from dam. Very difficult walking around bend of rocks and fast, high drop. Ken took one side (east-trail side) and I decide to go downstream on other side (west- road side). Bad choice by me. When I reached a point where I could no longer continue along the river I had to cross a raging stream, the only thing that saved me was my knee crashing onto a rock as I was falling. Ken said he was nervous and praying for me and that he would save my fly rod with my special fly. Going downstream from dam there are few very nice pools. Ken got some hits, a brookie, on a Simple -3 hackle. I didn't but saw a very large trout jumping high out of the water. After short time we had to climb up a very steep bank and thru thick underbrush to get out of the stream and back up to trail. Must be a better way. After all that I had to quit and we headed back to campsite around 4-5 pm. Rodger, Patrick and Jeremy fished just above Savage River Outfitters. Patrick is learning to tell the difference between a trout and a leaf on his line. Jeremy stayed longer fishing diligently for a large brown that he saw. Finally he caught a 13-14 inch brown on a green weenie, plus a sunken fly box full of soaked, large streamers. No name inside box.

Savage River below Dam. Great pools at end of stream.

Savage River rapids.

Savage River below Dam. Area of Lou's crossing.

Ken's brook trout

That evening everyone grilled steaks and chicken and heated potatoes over coals for dinner. As we were sitting around campfire that evening, a ranger and one police person came to camp looking for suspicious characters. Many jokes can be said about that. Since this is Halloween season, I was expecting an escaped killer with hooked hand cutting into campers tents. But nothing like that. We did have a seminar on making your own bamboo fly rods from Art and proper traveling fly rod cases by Mike (see Mike's excellent article in Mid Atlantic Fly Fishing Guide, Nov/Dec 2013, pg 5). After trying to stay up past 9:00 pm, we all went to bed around 10:00pm.

Sunday morning, still drizzle and rain, and after a good breakfast we all packed up camp and tents and headed for the Savage River. Saw Pat and father on 7x pool. We met Rodger, Jeremy and Patrick on Crabtree Creek (Spring Lick Rd), just above the dam, searching for brook trout. Just above an old falling down, abandoned house covered in very tall weeds I saw Rodger in a beautiful stretch with a pool and waterfall. Ken and I hooked up with a few brook trout, 4-5 inch size. Ken used a royal wulff and I was still using my one Simple 3-Hackle. Next we tried the area above Savage River Outfitters, near bend in road. The water is nice with a large pool near the road. After Ken and I got initial hits on our first to second cast, nothing after that. I tried a scud dropper on my one and only fly, but got nothing. We tried another new area at the confluence of Savage River and North Branch Potomac. I only got some hits with my one fly. Ken got a brown and brookie with crane fly. Leaving for home I noticed I finally lost my one fly, falling off my fly patch. It was a great fly and I will miss it. I will look for it next trip.

Lou Reichel