Copyright 2013 James Marsh
Fly Fishing The North Branch of the
Potomac River Maryland
Several years ago no one would have ever thought this
river could support trout. Acid mine drainage keep the
PH so low that it seemed nothing could survive in its
waters. Water flowing from abandoned coal mines
polluted the river. Silt from the runoff of mountain side
that had been cleared of timber, ruined the river.
Damming the river and creating Lake Jennings-
Randolph changed things. In some tributaries above the
lake and in the main channel, devices that mix lime with
the water to raise the PH, has decreased the acidic level
of the water. The river above the lake is now stocked
with rainbow and brown trout. Much of the river is a put
and take fishery but there is also a delayed harvest
section in the state forest area above the dam.
The section below the dam is the prime spot on the river
for serious anglers. The first one-third mile or so, is
reserved only for the trout. The next two-thirds mile is
catch and release only. Below that there is a picnic area
where you can keep trout, and then from Blue Hole to
the Piney Swamy Run, a tributary stream, it is catch and
release only waters. Even so, the tailwater section
receives several thousand stocked trout each year.
The river provides natural spawning for the brown and
brook trout in some areas. There is even a limited
amount of natural spawning of the rainbow trout.
Seven miles of the river above the lake is managed as a
Delayed Harvest area. The other fourteen miles is
stocked and managed on a "Put and take" basis.
The season is year-round and you can catch fish any
time of the year in the tailwater section.
Spring is probably the best time to fish the river
assuming the water flows are acceptable. Heavy spring
rains means heavy discharges of water from the dam.
The water in the tailwater section of the Potomac stays
cool all summer long and is a good time to fly fish.
Autumn is one of the best times to fish the Potomac
River. The brook trout and brown trout spawn in the fall.
If you can tolerate the weather, fly fishing the North
Branch of the Potomac River can be good.
Fly Fishing Guide to the Potomac River, North
The best way to fish the tailwater section is to float it in a
drift boat. This provides much better access to the prime
lies of the trout than you can get from the bank or by
wading from the bank.
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Potomac River, Maryland
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