Savage River Campout October 11-14, 2019

Attendees: Ken Bowyer, Jay Sheppard, Joe Taylor, Mike Abramowitz, Dave Pratt, Motti Tadmor, Clint and Mary Patrick, Steve and Carson Wargo, Rachel Dagovitz, and Rodger Johnson

Fishing Highlights

While the fishing in general was tough for this outing, I thought I would give a summary of the highlights. This was the first trip to the Savage for Joe Taylor, Motti Tadmor, and Steve and Carson Wargo. On Saturday, Carson (age 13) caught a 14" brown trout on a size 16 purple prince variation that he had tied. He was fishing it as a dropper to a size 14 grey elk hair caddis. He also caught another trout on the elk hair caddis. Steve also caught a trout. They were fishing the Savage up towards the dam. On Sunday, Carson caught a rainbow, a golden trout, a brook trout, and 2 brown trout all on a size 14 parachute. He was fishing with a $40 Walmart Fly Rod using 4 pound test line for tippet! On Sunday, Rodger Johnson caught an 11” brookie in full fall colors and a 15+” brown trout in the PhD pool (he had never caught anything in the PhD pool on prior trips). On Saturday, Motti caught a 13” rainbow on a beetle fishing the lower part of the upper catch and release section on the North Branch at Barnum. Joe Taylor caught 3 fish on Friday, 4 on Saturday missing 4 or 5 more, and 2 more on Sunday using caddis, PT soft hackle with and without a bead, and a hare’s ear soft hackle. Finally, Clint Patrick had the most unusual catch, a cray fish using a black woolly bugger!

Friday, October 11

First thing Friday morning, I checked the flows on the lower Savage (54 cfs) and the North Branch at Barnum (192cfs). On the way to western Maryland Friday morning, I picked up camping supplies from Lou Reichel who was unable to make this outing. I’m hoping Lou recovers rapidly from his lower back and leg problems! After eating breakfast and picking up sandwiches for lunch for 3 days, I arrived at the PhD pool around noon where Joe and Jay were BSing. They had both driven up the night before and reported that the fishing was tough but had caught some fish. I continued up to the Monroe Pavilion to setup my tent etc. Soon after, Mike Abramowitz and Dave Pratt showed up and they helped move picnic tables so more people could set up tents inside the pavilion. After getting fire wood at the general store, I suited up and fished at the PhD pool and the lower suspension bridge pool for about 2 hours. Nada at the PhD pool. After a few casts at the lower suspension bridge I saw a couple of rising fish and some small insects in the air that were size 18-20 small brown stoneflies. For about an hour, I fished with henryville special, brown elk hair caddis, rusty spinner, and a parachute adams to occasional rising fish. I got many swipes and one hookup but was unable to land the small brown trout. Back at the campground, Joe and Jay reported catching a few. Dave started the fire, Joe started the charcoal for grilling, and Jay setup Lou’s white gas camp stove to heat some water. Motti, Clint, and Mary arrived while we were preparing to grill. Steaks, hamburgers, hot dogs, brats, and chicken were the various choices for dinner along with macaroni salad, corn salad, chips, snacks, and peach pie (I probably missed some stuff). After Jay had turned off the camp stove somebody noticed that fuel was leaking onto the table and floor! We disassembled the camp stove and cleaned up the fuel that leaked onto the table. While we were enjoying the warmth at the fireplace, Steve and Carson arrived late after getting lost and finding out there is no phone service so his gps wasn’t helping. I think the overnight temps went into the low 40s.

Saturday, October 12

Saturday morning, Dave provided bacon and Jay fixed his famous french toast for breakfast. This was a great kickoff to a cold morning. For those coffee drinkers, Jay suggested somebody bring an electric coffee maker next year. In the meantime Clint and Mary had a percolator and Dave had a can of Maxwell House coffee. Steve and Carson brought Banana Bread, Chocolate Chip Cookies, and home grown tomatoes and peppers. Steve brought out his propane stove and it was leaking fuel. He thought he had fixed the leak as the stove was working briefly but then started spewing out propane and poof, I thought it was going to set the pavilion on fire!. Then Clint brought out a small portable white gas stove, started it and again we had a third leaking stove. He subsequently fixed his stove but in all my years of camping I never had a leaking stove and we had 3 on this trip!

Motti and Mike skipped breakfast and stopped at the fly shop before heading over to the North Branch at Barnum. After breakfast, Joe and I also headed over to Barnum. Before we hiked up to the top of the upper catch and release section, I showed Joe the bridge abutment down near the boat launch. I told him, it looked like the flows on the North Branch had been lowered some. After the fact, they had been lowered to 176cfs that morning. We hiked up all the way to the end of the path but when we entered the river there, you needed to cross to fish and I didn’t feel I could safely cross so we back tracked about 50-100 yards or so where it was easier to enter and cross the stream. We saw a few rises and small caddis in the air so we decided to fish the flat water just up stream from where we crossed. Both of us were getting swipes but no hookups. Dark clouds appeared and the winds increased causing a leaf hatch on the stream and making it difficult to fish with dry flies but we didn’t get any rain. I hiked up stream and fished some pocket water where I had one hookup but couldn’t land it. Joe had crossed back to the other side thinking maybe he could catch something from a different position but no such luck. We hiked back to the parking lot and ate lunch. Motti and Mike had fished the lower end of the upper catch and release section and Motti caught a nice 13” rainbow on a beetle pattern. Joe and I fished the lower part at the start of the upper catch and release section down towards the bridge abutment without any strikes. Between the hiking and wading on the North Branch, I decided to head back to the camp ground for a nap while Joe fished the lower Savage. On the way back, I received an email from Rachel saying she had arrived in the afternoon. That was good news because she was providing chicken wings and a salad for dinner. While napping, Jay and Dave returned to the campground after fishing the North Branch. Both were into fish but Dave went for a swim and needed to dry out! Because I wasn’t sure if we had a working camp stove to heat Rachel’s chicken wings, I went to the general store and bought more charcoal so we could heat them on the grill if necessary. The lady at the store said it was going down to 35 overnight. As it turns out, Rodger also came up in the morning, fished the lower Savage without any luck, but arrived at the campground with a working camp stove! Clint had setup the fire place with fire wood so we were ready to prepare dinner when the others returned from fishing. Rachel arrived with the news that she had lost her rod tip down stream from the fly shop. After searching for the tip with no luck, she borrowed a rod from the fly shop but had no luck fishing. For dinner, she brought BBQ and Teriyaki Chicken Wings along with a toss salad and italian dressing. It was an excellent dinner, and there were other snacks and plenty of cookies for desert. Motti headed home Saturday evening skipping our dinner due to business commitments the next day. Much of the evening discussions in front of the fire place focussed on Carson’s fishing.

Sunday, October 13

Sunday morning, nobody was in a hurry to go fishing since it was so cold. Everybody was on their own for breakfast. Due to family, school, or business conflicts, Jay, Joe, and Steve and Carson packed up to head home. I know Joe fished the lower Savage before heading home. Steve and Carson fished Big Run and possibly the Savage before heading home. I don’t think Jay fished before heading home. On previous trips to the Savage, Rodger and I had fished the upper Savage at the Westernport Road bridge parking at the pullout on Savage River Road. In the Spring of 2018, I went to fish there and found a posted No Trespassing sign at the pullout. While the flows on the upper Savage were too low to fish, Rodger and I drove up to see if the pullout was still posted and it was gone so on future trips, we may be able to fish that section again. For most of the day, Rodger and I fished the PhD pool and 3 or so pools just upstream. I reported Rodger’s success in the highlights. I fished various dry fly dropper combinations during the day producing occasional swipes but no hookups. Rachel had no luck finding her rod tip but Mike offered to help her replace the tip since it was a rod she had built. I can’t remember if either of them or Dave had any success fishing. I reported Clint’s unusual catch in the highlights. For dinner, Clint and Mary fixed Taco Soup plus some enjoyed other stuff including left over chicken wings along with the soup. We prepared for another night in the 30s in front of the fire.

Monday, October 14

Monday morning, everybody was on their own for breakfast again. Rodger and I had originally planned to fish the North Branch before heading home but I was too tired to fish. I know Rodger fished a nice section of the Savage down stream from the fly shop but didn’t have any luck. I think Mike was fishing the PhD pool when I was driving down Savage River Road. I don’t know if Dave or Rachel fished before heading home. Clint and Mary were still packing up at the campground when I left. I want to thank everyone who attended the outing. With everybody bringing food, water, snacks, cookies, etc. and helping with grilling, cooking, fixing the fire, etc. it made for a successful outing. Special thanks to Jay for providing his famous French Toast and Dave for providing the bacon for Saturday’s breakfast, Rachel for the Chicken Wings and Salad for Saturday's dinner, Clint and Mary for the Corn Salad on Friday and the Taco Soup for Sunday’s dinner, Lou for organizing the outing (we missed you) and Carson for his smiling enthusiasm. We missed Todd Parks and his BBQ Pulled Pork. He had to cancel due to business conflict. Hopefully next year we will have reasonable flows on the upper Savage and it’s tribs so that we have more fishing options. Be sure to reserve the Columbus day weekend for next year.

Ken Bowyer