Road Trip Fly Fishing - Day 2

After Road Trip Fly Fishing - Day 1 with Kirk from River Mud earlier in the week, I was itching to get out again but it didn't seem like it was going to happen. The show ended on Thursday and I had to catch a plane on Friday....or did I? It turns out that I got some of my dates wrong so I didn't fly home until Saturday which meant another day of fishing!!!

The Little Patuxent
I did a lot of internet researching and texts back and forth with Kirk to find out where I wanted to go. Despite the bad reports on trout, I decided to chase them anyways. I researched some local stockings and on Thursday afternoon, went out on a scouting mission. After scouting, I decided that all the ponds and lakes were too big to effectively fish from shore with a fly rod so I wanted to stick to the streams - besides, I am most comfortable on moving water. That same night, I did some more internet research and picked my target - The Little Patuxent River

Although Kirk wouldn't make it out with me on this day, I was joined by a long time friend, Shannon, who just so happens to work with me and also happened to be out in DC with me. I had two fly rods and plenty of flies so it worked out perfectly. Shannon was the person that first showed me how to cast a fly rod and he also let me hold on to one of his set-ups so I could practice, learn, and decide if I even liked it before buying all kinds of gear. This would be the first time fishing with him since then so I was quite excited by that. 

Note how the river really opens here
We had a few errands to run in the morning but we were in our waders by noon and fishing just fifteen minutes later. The water at our first pool was crystal clear with a good six feet or more of visibility. What was great about this pool is the fact that the river funneled down to no more than fifteen feet wide just before becoming a much wider river. I tied on a small copper john and Shannon tied on a black stone fly nymph as we both started fishing this first area. Almost immediately, I had a strike but was too slow to convert. Shannon had one strike pretty quickly as well, but also couldn't convert. After this happened a few more times, I started wondering if the "Thingamabobber" strike indicator was too big and the resistance was causing fish to drop the fly. I know this happens with catfish a lot - if they feel weight, they drop the bait - so I thought that maybe it could apply to trout and as a result, I decided to take it off and also switched to the stone fly nymph. At the same time, Shannon wanted to switch it up as well because he was not used to nymphing and felt more comfortable with a streamer style presentation. As a result, I gave him a fly that I had tied in preparation for this trip called the Patuxent special. 
First smallmouth on the fly!

After we were done changing our flies, we started fishing once more. I think it was my second float when I noticed the floating line jerk down and I set the hook - FISH ON!!! As I stripped line I was growing more and more excited! In my head I am thinking that this is my first time fly fishing for rainbows and within an hour I have my first one; how awesome is that? The fish is now close to shore so Shannon wets his hands, scoops up the fish, and....wait a minute...is that a.....smallmouth? It sure was!! What a surprise - I didn't even know that smallies were in this river. While this wasn't a big fish, I finally understand why people pursuit those fish so passionately - talk about a fight to the end. 

Second smallmouth on the fly
We continued fishing and Shannon was struggling with Patuxent special and I was struggling with the right words to explain it, so I grabbed his rod and gave it a cast. I let the current grab the fly line and create a nice bow in the line which dragged the fly right down the seam of a big eddie. Half way along the eddie - FISH ON!!! Woohoo!! Now I get my rainbow!!! The fight ensues, the fish gets close to shore, Shannon scoops it up, and it's another smallie!

Smallie number three!
After releasing smallie number two for the day, I decided to also tie on the patuxent special fly because I was really struggling with the indicator/no indicator thing and started to get frustrated. I think it took a half a dozen casts later before I landed smallie number three! 

While I was beyond happy and excited by this fantastic and unexpected smallmouth fishing, I still really wanted a rainbow. I continued to cast the patuxent special when I got a strike that was harder than anything I had felt yet. I set the hook and within a couple of seconds, the fish launched at least a two feet into the air giving me time to see that it was my elusive rainbow! As it wriggled and flipped through the air, the fish did exactly what he had hoped to do - spit the hook. As disappointed as I was, I couldn't help but laugh. For whatever reason, I love when fish launch like that. Those are often some of my funniest and most vivid memories that I have of fishing. There is just something so thrilling about it that stays with me indefinitely. 

After losing my elusive rainbow, we decided to let the pool cool down for a bit and started exploring more of the river. I ended up with one more smallie for a total of four and a creek chub - which happens to be another first on the fly for me. With that, I will leave you with some more pictures  that I took that day! 


A series of waterfalls

Waterfalls like this were everywhere. Below many of them had water
3 to 10 feet deep! 

First Creek chub on the fly! - Took a beadhead nymph
A touch of color in an otherwise gray world

Waterfall to waterfall to waterfall....

Does it make the fish look any bigger?

The wall fell out


  1. Sounds nice, there are a lot of little streams in Mid-MD that have Smallies in them. I have caught Smallies in Big Hunting Creek, Owens Creek, and the Patapsco River. I did a post on Owens here is the Url: http://www.devinsfishingreports.com/2012/02/who-wouldve-guessed.html

    And boy oh boy is that stream small, it is a mountain stream setting and caught him right after a plunge pool.

    1. Sounds like some more water that I need to hit on one of my trips out there!

    2. Those spots are a little farther north, but are worth a little time, the Gunpowder included in that list. Devin has a pretty outstanding idea of how to fish big stretches of several of those.....

  2. Very scenic, I love the series of waterfalls... neat area and nice photos of it. Grats on the smallies.

    1. Thanks, Adam. In between waterfalls were very deep pools that had to hold fish; we just didn't have time to fish every pool we found.

  3. Chubs and fallfish... underrated! Nice work...

    1. I concur! I think it's even better when they are unexpected. It almost reminded me of fishing in the ocean - you just never know what you are going to catch.

  4. My kind of adventure. Thanks for sharing the experience.

  5. That building reminds of the one in Easy Rider, when they are swimming in the old mill beside the river. BTW I am also in the Chicago area and recently picked the fly rod back up after about 20 years, it is an addiction, but a good one.

    1. I am going to have to dig out my old box of VHS tapes and watch that again!

      Congrats on getting back on the fly; it really is a good addiction. People ask me what's so different and I have not been able to explain it yet...

  6. You have a working VCR? My kids killed my last one, little green army men a VCR don't mix well. I never bothered to replace it LOL. Got out on the Fox for a bit today, but the wind was too much for the fly rod, so I just used the spin gear, the whole time I was just wishing I could cast a fly in that wind. I know it is possible, but not my me.....yet.

    1. LOL, I sure do....for the longest time it remained as a part of the entertainment center. About two years ago, I finally took it down and packed it away knowing that one day, it would be a great conversation piece similar to the betamax player that I have in the basement.

      Regarding fly fishing in the wind, I learned that by forcing yourself to fly fish in the wind will make you a better caster when the wind is less. So next time it's windy, leave the spinning gear at home and force yourself to use the fly rod. It's the only way to ever really learn it - at least that was the case for me.

  7. Wow, great pics. Loving nature. I believe that smallmouth bass are some of the toughest freshwater fish to land. Once hooked, you can be sure you'll have an exciting fight on your hands thanks to their acrobatics and powerful runs. Agree?


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