The Gunpowder River in northern Maryland is a tailwater that is very popular year round with trout anglers. Running from the Prettyboy Dam and reservoir, it carves its way through a valley that beautifully showcases all seasons before flowing into the Loch Raven reservoir, the primary source of water for the 1.5 million residents in the Baltimore MD area.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is responsible for designating resources to maintain the watershed as a state park. There are also several environmental groups which are committed to keeping the river and surrounding landscape clean and safe. Outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds appreciate the lushness of the flora throughout the watershed with hikers determinedly trekking the miles of trails along both sides of the river. However, it is the fishermen and women chasing trout who really benefit from this stretch of water.
Stream bred trout thrive and reproduce best in cold, clean water and that is exactly what is released by the Prettyboy Dam into the Gunpowder River. The water dropping from the lower gates remains a fairly constant average of approximately 55°F, a perfect temperature for the brown, brook and rainbow trout.
Concerned mainly with the catch, most fishermen have no problem with the “catch and release” rules on the first 7 ½ miles of the river. They know they can use only artificial flies with one hook and are not allowed to use bait. Such a regulation is designed to promote successful reproduction and survival of the young in a controlled setting, ensuring good fishing for future generations.
There is no shortage of food for the fish including caddis and midges. However, it is the distinctly yellow and orange “sulphur” species of mayflies that emerge in late spring that delight the fishermen and women who are familiar with the hatches of the Gunpowder River. Later on in the summer, beetles, grasshoppers, crickets and ants are favored by the trout. The fish also have no problem foraging for sculpin and dace along the entire stretch of the river. As long as the trout are satisfied, the fishing enthusiasts continue to head to the Gunpowder River to fulfill their dreams of trophy trout.