Ultralight Fly Fishing
in western Maryland
...with Bill Byrd.
This is the fourth in my series of articles on fly fishing the western Maryland area. I hope you will enjoy reading these articles and maybe visit and fish some of these little known beautiful fly fishing destinations.
I received an email from Ron Wells on July 15th, 2006, inviting me up to fish the Savage River located near Grantsville MD with him. Ron is very accomplished ultralight fly fisher and frequents my website. He successfully fishes the Savage River, the Youghiogeny, and several other streams in the area with tiny flies and true ultralight gear.
The next month my son announced he was getting married in eastern Maryland in mid September 2006, so my wife and I decided to stage an extended trip after the wedding to include a western Maryland sight seeing and fly fishing tour. After my son's wedding we drove southwest by Baltimore on highway 70, then split off onto highway 68 west past Frostburg to Grantsville, Maryland.
Grantsville was the perfect town in which to base our lodging for western Maryland fly fishing. From Grantsville I could reach many western Maryland streams within minutes and enjoy cozy, relaxed lodging at the Stonebow Inn.
Actually it was just a short walk from the deck on our cabin in Grantsville to the Casselman River, and an easy ride to the Savage River, the upper Potomac, the Youghiogeny River, and Bear Creek.
Life deals its surprises. The day before departing eastern Maryland for Grantsville, Ron Wells called to tell me that he had become ill, and didn't expect to be able to fish with me on the 20th at the Savage River. We considered Friday September 22nd as a makeup day on our trip. By Thursday night, I was very tired and sore from my Thursday trip on the Potomac River. I really wanted to just relax and rest on Friday.
Friday morning I began to feel better, and I at least wanted to meet Ron since he was responsible for getting me to come to western Maryland in the first place. We set a rendezvous at the little town of Friendsville, MD. The river that runs through Friendsville -- the Youghiogeny. Ron was feeling better and was planning to fish the Yough, so my wife and I drove to Friendsville to meet Ron at 1PM Friday.
When we arrived the main bridge over the Yough was covered with kayakers. They had set up a special water release for kayakers that afternoon so fishing the Yough was out.
I wanted to fish something with Ron so we drove just outside Friendsville to Bear Creek. There was a convenient pull over along the narrow roadway where we stopped and took a quick look at the creek. It looked good so we got our waders on and mugged for the camera. My wife shot the image.
Ron quickly rigged his old Sage 2-weight with a tiny Elk Caddis, and I rigged my Hexagraph 1-2 weight with another tiny Elk caddis. Actually he did me the honor of tying on my tiny Elk Caddis because I didn't have my magnifiers with me and I COULDN"T SEE the hook eye! It is better to get old and not see tiny things well, than to die young and stop enjoying any age at all. That is a Byrdism.
Ok...get the picture. Two old guys are trying not to fall down the steep banks with crumbling rocks, foot grabbing roots, and small stones in order to carefully cast two flies so darn small that one can barely see them on the water just to trick some poor trout. Yep..that's about the picture.
The two images above will take some explanation. No...these aren't bears! The big rear (image above left) is mine -- Bill Byrd's. I am sneaking up on and casting to a Bear Creek Rainbow in hopes of catching and releasing it. Note: I haven't actually seen the rainbow yet! The other SMALLER rear (image above right) is Ron Wells as he crouches to stalk a Bear Creek rainbow. He hasn't seen that rainbow yet either. Ron is actually casting my Hexagraph 1-2 weight. Thought I'd get all that straight for you.
We did have a chance to sample Bear Creek for a brief time, and we did not catch any rainbows. I caught one short tree, but I released it. I'd like to emphasize: We weren't fishing SERIOUSLY! Finally after fishing about 200 feet up, we decided to quit fishing and hiked back to the vehicles to get out of our waders.
Then we all voted to visit in one of the diners in downtown Friendsville. Ron, my wife, and I dropped in for some late lunch. We had a great time discussing fly fishing and general topics pertaining to our lives. Although it wasn't high performance fishing, Ron and I got to "wet a hook" on Bear Creek and that was FUN.
By normal fishing standards, this was a minimal experience. This was not Bear Creek's fault. Water flow was low, and the trout population was not at its yearly high. In good conditions Bear Creek would be a beautiful creek to fish ultralight.
The main thing on this day was to meet Ron Wells and the Youghiogeny River. Fishing Bear Creek was a bonus.
Thanks, Ron for inviting me up to fish the Savage. That invitation set into motion all sorts of wonderful experiences for my wife and me. Meeting all the friendly western Marylanders was a treat. Fishing so many of the area waters was a real treat. Seeing the towns in the area was an education. I'll be back for the Savage and the Yough.
When in the area my wife and I stayed at the Stonebow Inn. Sadly the Stonebow has since closed its doors. It was literally located in Grantsville 100 feet from the Casselman River, and a short drive from the Savage River, the Upper Potomac, amd the Youghiogheny River. There are state parks and many activities for everyone in the immediate area.
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