100 Best: Savage River

Location: Western Maryland

Type of stream: Freestone and tailwater

Angling methods Fly and spin

Species: Browns, brookies and a few ‘bows

Access Easy down low, difficult above the lake

Season: Year ‘round Supporting

Services: Oakland

Short take: Savage in name only

Handicapped access: Not formally

Closest TU Chapter: Youghiogheny

The only thing Savage about the Savage River in far western Maryland can be its whitewater releases. But they happen generally once in June and again in July and maybe in September if water levels are high enough in Savage River Reservoir, which usually they aren’t. Whitewater releases flow at 800 cfs. But normal flow of river runs from 60 cfs to 200 cfs. The river fishes best somewhere between 80 cfs and 120 cfs, says Mike Evans, of Savage River Outfitters. That makes it perhaps the shortest and the most accessible wild brown and brook trout fishery in the East.

The Savage tailwater is managed for wild trout. Sure, ‘bows and some cutthroat will wander up from the North Branch, but in the main what you catch here are stream bred brookies which average 9 to 10 inches and browns in the 15-inch range. Rap on the Savage has been that it’s generally a nympher’s stream. Don’t bet on it. Blue-winged olives are effective as the trees shading most of the tailwater green-up in spring. Sulphurs can be spectacular in May andg June. Little yellow sallies pick up in late June. Caddis in various forms fish well from spring into fall. Not to be overlooked are midge hatches throughout the winter. A couple days of 40° temps bring them on. Above Savage Reservoir, for about four miles the river is heavily stocked with golden trout.


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