100 Best: Big Gunpowder Falls River

Location: Northeastern Maryland

Type of stream: Tailwater

Angling methods Fly, Spin, Bait

Species: Brown

Access Easy

Season: Year-round Supporting

Services: Tackle shops, accommodations

Short take: Fly fishing legend Lefty Kreh’s home waters

Handicapped access: Yes

Closest TU Chapter: Maryland Chapter

Bernard “Lefty” Kreh is an icon among America’s professional fly fishers. Former outdoor editor for the Baltimore Sun, author of scores of books and articles, casting instructor for thousands, Lefty lives about 10 miles from Big Gunpowder Falls River. You might think of it as his home river. When you park at the lot where Falls Road crosses the river and follow the trail upstream toward the dam, you’ll crest the nose of a low ridge and descend into a grove of mountain laurel, you could swear you’re down in the Great Smokies. Laurel blooms in May just about the time when sulphurs are hatching. Hard to believe that you’re getting ready to cast to wild brown trout that flourish little more than 30 miles up I-83 from Baltimore, fewer than 70 miles from Washington, DC, and just over 100 from Philly. Big Gunpowder falls is the closest trophy trout stream to more than 16 million Americans.

With the exception of the boulder, swirl, pool nature of the first mile or so below Prettyboy Dam, the bed of the river is mainly cobble with long riffles ending in pools which shallow into riffles again. Currents eat out the gravels downstream from deadfalls, creating marvelous pockets where larger fish lie. As is true in many rivers, the angler who probes such lies and undercut banks too with nymphs and streamers will likely connect with lunkers.


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