Copyright 2016 James Marsh
Fly Fishing The Savage River In Maryland
The Savage River is situated entirely within the Savage River
State Forest. Its upper freestone section is almost three-forth of
the length of the entire river and is quite remote. It has lots of
small spring feed tributaries and is a relatively small to medium
size stream with wild brook trout. The freestone stream flows
into the Savage River Reservoir created by dam. The reservoir
is stocked with brown and brook trout.
The part that is of the most interest to fly anglers is the tailwater
section of the river. Water from the bottom of the reservoir flows
from the dam at a constant fifty-degree temperature. It has lots
of deep, swift flowing runs, deep pools and some sections of
riffles. It has plenty of wild brook and brown trout. The
reproduction is great and there is no need for any stocking. It
was discontinued in 1990. The Potomac tailwater is one of the
best wild trout streams in the middle Atlantic region. The river is
bordered with rhododendron and mountain azaleas. The
mountains have large stands of Hemlock and hardwood trees
and it is a beautiful place to fish.
The tailwater is managed as a "Trophy Trout" area. It is divided
into two sections. The first section starting below the dam is
designated as "Fly Fishing Only". It extends for a mile and a
quarter from the dam to the Allegana Bridge. The "Trophy Trout
Management Area" extends from the Allegana Bridge to the
confluence with the Potomac River, a distance of just under
Fly Fishing Guide to the Savage River
The river consist of pocket water that falls at a fairly steep
decent. Its bottom consist of coble and boulders that are very
slick. The river has a high PH level and which is responsible for
its large hatches of aquatic insects. The Savage River tailwater
gives the appearance of being purely a nymph stream with little
dry fly fishing. It is almost right the opposite of that. It has
excellent hatches and great dry fly fishing. You can catch wild
brown and native brook trout throughout the year on dry flies.
Even during the cold winter, on warm days, it is possible to
catch trout on dry flies during Blue-winged Olive and midge
That is not to say that nymph fishing is not a good way to fish
this stream because it certainly is. Imitations of mayfly and
stonefly nymphs work year-round. You can also do well with
caddisfly larva imitations such as the "Green Rock Worm", or
imitations of the Green Sedge Larvae. Most anglers use a strike
indicator when nymph fishing. There is certainly nothing wrong
with that. Most of the runs and pools are quite deep. In fact you
have to use caution when wading because it is easy to step off
into a hole with too deep of water to wade. The bottom is also
very slick due to the algae growth. The high PH of the water
keeps the rocks, cobble and boulders slick.
The stream averages about fifty feet wide at the widest sections
in its tailwater. It is narrow and deeper than most tailwaters
throughout its four mile length. There are a few riffles but they
are not plentiful. Most of the water is on the deep side. High
stickin is a good nymph method to use on this river. Make your
cast short and in an upstream direction.
Streamer fishing is also a good technique to use on the Salvage
River. The larger browns are always subject to being caught on
imitations of baitfish, minnows, and sculpins. The best times to
fish them are early in the morning or late in the day when the
light is low, or anytime when the skies are heavily overcast.
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Recommended Tackle & Gear
4, 5 or 6 weight
Dry fly: 9 &12 ft., 5 or 6X, Nymphing: 71/2
ft., 3 or 4X, Streamers 0-2X
Dry fly: 5 or 6X, Nymphing: 3 or 4X,
Best Fly Rods:
Perfect Fly Supreme Four, Superb Five or
For 4/5/6 fly line
Fly Floatants and Misc Items:
Floatants, KISS Strike Indicators
Tools & Accessories:
Nippers, forceps, retractors, etc.
There are probably more aquatic insects in this
river than we are showing below and on our
Savage River Hatch Chart. As soon as we can
verify more we will list them but for now, this is
what we have found and confirmed to be
present in the river.
Don't ever overlook the midges in the Savage
River whenever you are fishing. Of course they
are probably more important in the winter when
nothing else is hatching but you can catch trout
on larva imitations and pupa imitations almost
anytime of the year.
The Blue-winged Olives are the first mayflies to
hatch in the Savage River. They start as early
as the middle of March and hatch off and on
through May. There is a second wave of them in
the late summer to early fall starting about the
end of August and lasting until the middle of
The American March Browns and Light Cahill
mayflies, both clingers, hatch from about the
first of May until the first week in June. Sulphurs
hatch almost the same period of time but maybe
last longer into the end of June. Look for them
in the pockets or calmer areas of water. Eastern
Pale Evening Duns, also clingers, hatch in July
In May and early June you should find the
Green Sedges hatching. Don't overlook fishing
the Green Rock Work, or Green Sedge Larva,
at anytime of the year. The river has a large
quantity of them. The Cinnamon Caddis hatch
for most of the summer months staring in the
middle of May through the month of July.
Thumbnails: click to enlarge
Thumbnails: click to enlarge
Little Brown Stoneflies hatch starting in
March and last through April. Some anglers
call these little winter brown stoneflies.
Yellow Sallies, or Little Yellow Stoneflies,
start hatching the first of June and last
through the month of July. They become
very important insects to imitate.
Terrestrials become important starting in mid
June. There are plenty of beetles, ants and
some grasshoppers around the stream.
They hang around until the first frost usually
The inch worm flies work great here as the
moths are very plentiful. Look for them to be
hanging from the trees from June through
Scuds are also very important. The river has
a good population of them and they are one
of the most important foods for the brook
and brown trout. Crawfish (Crayfish) are also
very plentiful in the river. The trout will eat
the smaller ones.
Be sure to check our Perfect Fly Hatch Chart
and select imitations for the period of time
you will be fishing the Savage River.
The brown and brook trout spawn in the fall
and the fishing is excellent.
You can catch trout on midges throughout
the winter months.
The fishing season is open year-round and due
to the constant temperature of the water, fly
fishing the Savage River tailwater is good the
This tailwater has numerous hatches of aquatic
insects and Springtime is a great time to fish.
The water stays cool throughout the tailwater
even on the hottest days of summer and
provides good fishing.
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Fishing Report Updated 10/23/16
Savage River Fishing Report - 10/23/16
Be sure to check the discharge schedule prior to traveling very far to fish the Savage. It
determines whether you can wade or not. It is low at this time.
7 Day Weather Forecast: There is a chance of rain on Wednesday and Thursday, then
clearing. Highs will range from 50 to 54 degrees and lows from 31 to 39 degrees.
Recommended Trout Flies:
Midges: Blood (Red), sizes 20/22, larva, pupa and adults
Midges: Cream, size 20/22, larva, pupa and adults
Midges: Light Green, size 20/22, larva, pupa and adults
Blue-winged Olives: size 18/16, nymphs, emergers, duns, spinners
Black Matuka and Olive Matuka Sculpin, size 4/6
Brown Sculpin and White Belly Sculpin, size 6
Mahogany duns, size 18, nymphs, emergers, duns and spinners
Great Autumn Brown Sedges, size 10, pupa and adults
Cinnamon Caddis, size 16/18/ larva, pupa and adults
Slate Drakes, size 10/12, nymphs and spinners
Sandwich Hoppers, Green, size 8, 10, 12,
Japanese Beetles, size 16/14
Carpenter ants, size 16/18
Strategies, Techniques and Tips:
There is little change in the best fishing strategy during the cold months of the year. It is
almost alway best to fish a tandem Midge rig under a small strike indicator with the
midge lava as the bottom fly and the midge pupa as the top fly. Fish the adult midge
only when you observe trout feeding on the surface.
Fish the Black Matuka and Olive Matuka Sculpin or the Brown or White Belly Sculpin
streamer anytime during low light conditions, or early and late in the day. They are
good flies for the larger trout.
Blue-winged olives are hatching again.
Great Autumn Brown sedges are hatching.
Mahogany duns are hatching.
Cinnamon Caddis are hatching.
Slate Drakes are hatching.
Terrestrial insects, such as Carpenter ants, Japanese Beetles and grasshoppers will
become more and more important as the month goes by.
|Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us (email@example.com)
with the dates you will be fishing this
stream and we will send you a list of our
fly suggestions. Please allow up to 24
hours for a response.
2. Call us 800-594-4726 and we will help
you decide which flies you need.
3. Email us (firstname.lastname@example.org)
with a budget for flies and we will select
them to match the budget and get them to
you in time for your fly fishing trip.
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