100 Best: Potomac River, North Branch

Location: West Virginia/Maryland Border

Type of stream: Freestone and tailwater

Angling methods Fly or spin

Species: Brookies, browns, cutthroat and rainbows

Access Easy to moderate

Season: All year Supporting

Services: Oakland

Short take: Your choice…browns, ‘bows, brookies, and cutts

Handicapped access: Not really

Closest TU Chapter: Youghiogheny

Looking for the most unusual trophy trout grand slam in the East? Head for the North Branch of the Potomac River at Bloomington, Maryland. Only three hours from Pittsburgh and Washington, D. C, this piece of the river is heavily stocked with every species of trout found in the United States except bull trout. Some of the trout are bulls, though. The state record brown of 18-pound, 3-ounce, the state record 7-pound, 9-ounce cutthroat, and the 6-pound, 1.75-ounce state record brookie came from these waters.

The most popular section of the river is the tailwater below Bloomington Dam which impounds Jennings Randolph Lake. While the abandoned railroad grade follows the river, wading in many places is nothing short of treacherous. Class II and class III rapids punctuate this section making floating challenging for novice boaters. Those who wade should wear studded shoes, avail themselves of wading staffs, and wear floatation suspenders for their waders. Large numbers of fairly good sized browns frequent this stretch.

The river above Jennings Randolph Lake loses its industrial persona. Wading is easy in most spots. The first six miles above Jennings Randolph Lake are strictly put and take. Throughout the 7.5 miles that flows through Potomac Garrett State Forest, delayed harvest rules apply. Access to the delayed harvest area is limited to a few roads.


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