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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Letting the ol' salty 8-12wt's take a rest and knockin' the dust off the 2 & 4 wt do to some trout fishing while up in MD for the holiday. Anyone been fishing Big Hunting Creek, Beaver, or any other trout waters in and around that area (Fredrick MD)???

Thanks,

-Ryan
 

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Fished Big Hunting last week. Got the skinniest Brookie I have ever seen at the pool below the bridge. There are still fish there but the water was really low.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the reports guys. I fished Big Hunting one day and it was one of the weirdest fresh water trips of my life. I'm attributing it to the water temps being in the high 30's to low 40's and low water but the fish were the most lethargic I have ever seen! Mostly nice size bookies in the 10-12" range mixed in with some browns. One fish seemed totally out of it and I actually dangled my fly right in front of his mouth (multiple times without spooking him) and just lifted up and hooked him. He was angled downstream and almost looked sick...I'm hoping it was not whirling or something but for the most part the fish looked healthy although it was very light colored for fall/winter (stood out like a sore thumb against the leafy bottom). A few pools up was filled with very nice sized fish, but again most very lethargic and not willing to take anything. I could actually touch the fish on the head with my rod tip and they would not move! Like I said, may have been the cold water but I have never experienced something like that before and I hope it is not a disease of some kind. Nice to see that many large fish though. Very promising for when the water temps get up in the spring.

Tight lines,

-Ryan

p.s. how was the area up near the Savage. I love that place!
 

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I didnt get to fish the savage but i did fish a little bit of the yough and a feeder stream. I saw one brookie and didnt catch anything but it was beautiful with all of the snow.
 

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I've seen it like that in Hunting Creek before, and have managed to touch a fish in the water. I think they're stocked fish going hungry. That's a small stream for that many fish of that size. I'm not against stocked fish, but think it's overdone in a creek that size. As for trout, I did pretty well in the rain Sunday at Gunpowder for what it's worth. That's the opposite extreme--mostly wild fish, but generally small.
 

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Glub is correct about those brookies being stocked. The heaviest day of their life was the day they were stocked. Since then they have been starving. It's a d**n shame that the state allows them to be stocked over the wild brown trout and few wild brookies that they compete with for what little food is there. It's a decades old controversty and getting it changed is like pissing up a rope.

Dan
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I was under the impression that Hunting was stocked but Big Hunting was not and it was fly fishing only catch and release??? I may have the two streams backwards but the one I was fishing was the C&R stream. I may be wrong about this because I'm not a MD resident and do not get up there very often. If it is any help it seemed as though the slightly smaller browns (in the same pools as the brookies) were much more feisty and spooky. The sluggish fish did not look to be unhealthy or extra skinny for that matter, but it could be the case that they were starving, cold, and did not want to expend any more energy. In any case it was very unusual to see such a thing. Anyway thanks for the info!

Tight lines,

Ryan
 

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Big Hunting has native browns and stocked brookies. It is a catch and release fly fishing only stream. This is my first year fly fishing so I have only this years experience, however the last brookie I caught there was pretty skinny. That said it was the only fish I could coax into taking a dry fly.
 

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Yep,

The browns are all wild fish and the brookies and rainbows are stocked. What you have witnessed is the result of overstocking... That is, too many fish competing for too little food results in malnurished, emaciated rainbows and brookies which behave nothing like their wild counterparts. Fortunately despite having to compete with the farm raised brookies and rainbows the browns seem do be doing okay, although they would surely do better if they didnt have to compete with the brookies and rainbows. I'm sure some of the stocked fish acclimate and hold over quite well, but most become quite sad to look at by mid summer.

IMHO BHC would be a top notch wild brown trout fishery if they ceased stocking, but ill be the first to admit my catch rate would go down drastically without all those brookies competing for a food morsel... those browns are spooky and can be quite difficult!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
That makes sense and sounds exactly what I was running into. I was not aware they stocked that stream so heavily. You would think that the DNR would have better sense than than that and have people who's job it was to ensure that situations like that did not happen (especially in a C&R fly only stream, It just doesn't really make sense if you ask me). Thanks again for the info. Tomorrow it's a whole different game...tryin' to hook into a Kiptopeake Cow out of the kayak!

Tight lines,

Ryan
 

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Good luck with the kiptopeake cow on the yak. THat is on the top of my list. I"ve been there dozens of times on my boat and friends boats but not from my yak. But for some reason I doubt you'll be using your 4wt and #20 midges.

Back to hunting creek. The browns in there are all natural. But the brooks are not. When they get really lethargic like that, it's usually from a sudden temperature change and with such low water, it affects them twice as bad. But with stable weather, even if cold, those fish should bounce back again.

As for the numbers of fish they stock.... it's probably the most popular trout stream, ever, especially for it's size. It gets plenty of pressure. It's those upstream reaches above the lake and the smaller tribs that is Catoctin's crown jewl. THe lower portion is stocked to the brim to appease all the tourists. Either way, it's still fun. When it's dead low and a flowing like a trickle, I like using streams with a lot of marabou. You can try and sneak up on the few rising fish in the pee trickle current but those are probably stream born browns who have seen it all.

The winter time is usually the best time on that creek in the lower section. The water level should rise considerably now that the growing season is over, the water table is higher and when or if we get some decent rain, it should sustain a decent level for longer period. The rain really turns on the fish in that stream. It almost can never be unfishable as like most tailwaters. The lake acts as a massive sediment trap that keeps the bottom release water relatively clear. If you find dirty water, walk upstream to find the source. Besides, dirty water usually means stupid, eager fish and easier fishing.

Now I want to go trout fishing. IT's been a while.
 

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The Big Hunting Creek stocking controversy has been going on for over 40 years and goes back to the construction of the the dam creating Cunningham Lake. The stocking is a political decision by DNR which violates their own policy of not stocking hatchery fish over wild trout. Twice during my various tenures as MAC TU Council Chair we tried to take DNR to task over that policy and were basically told each time the policy would not change.

The stocking is actually done (or was done) by The Friends Of Hunting Creek. Before I left MD the agreement between DNR and TFHC was for the spring stocking of no more than 1,000 adult Rainbows and Brookies. But as you observed that is way to many.
In search of food, many of the stockers wind up in Frank Bentz pond where they are harvested.

The browns are wild and there is in fact a pretty good population of them. There is also a decent stock of wild brookies in BHC, but in 30 years of fishing the stream I never caught one larger than 8". I think there is a minimum size requirement for the stocked fish of 11" to 12" which makes it pretty easy to tell if the brookie is a stocked fish. Also, the stocked fish already look pretty emaciated by the end of June while the wild fish look preety good year round.

Also, FYI all of the streams within Cunningham Falls / Catoctin Mountain Parks are C&R and several have wild brookie and / or brown trout populations.

Guy
 

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I also beleive the stocking is to accomodate the annual Brotherhood of the Junglecock weekend in May. It is to assure that there are fish that a young boy has a decent chance of catching.
 
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