Fishing Report: Savage River (Lower and Upper)

After striking out on the Gunpowder (0-2 for the year), I received an invite to fish the Savage River in western Maryland with a friend.  With unseasonably warm weather in the 60’s forecast, I hoped to throw big streamers for equally big browns in the Lower Savage, a tail-water river that is entirely catch and release.  I was excited enough to spend a late night tying a big, thick-bodied streamer just for this purpose.

My first attempt at a trophy trout streamer.  Size 6 hook, dumbbell eyes, brown rabbit strip tail and body, EP brush head, and some orange flashabou.  It looks more like a cray fish, but was inspired in part by Kelly Galloup’s patterns that are becoming popular.

Arriving on the Lower Savage at 8AM, conditions were almost perfect.  Flows were high at 250 CFS, but the water was heavily stained, the sky was overcast, and no bugs were hatching (yet).  My friend and I both worked streamers through a few deep holes, and after a couple hours of work, had nothing to show for it.

My fishing partner Brian working a big pool on the Lower Savage.  Brian has nearly mastered the art of streamer fishing for trout, and has the record (and fly collection) to prove it.

Taking a break, we headed into the Orvis shop on the river, where I picked up a few Griffith’s Gnats and asked about the fishing.  Seemed the folks fishing that day were moving a few fish, but no one was catching anything.  The Lower Savage was still cold, in the low 40’s.  While the staff at the shop had not heard how the Upper Savage was fishing (which is not a tail-water) they did tell us it should have brook trout and rainbow trout at this time of the year, which was enough to get us to give it a shot.

Savage River Outfitters – an Orvis endorsed fly shop, guide service, and lodge.

While the Lower Savage is boulder water, and hard to wade, the Upper Savage is much flatter and shallower, the boulders are smaller, and rock ledges under water give the river most of its structure.  We fished this river hard, working our way over several hundred yards and catching six fish (one brook trout, and five rainbow trout), and lost several more to thrown hooks.  All were taken on streamers, despite the heavy hatch of black stoneflies that was occurring (and my brief attempt to match the hatch).

Fishing a hole on the Upper Savage River.


Brian’s very pretty brook trout.

The highlight of the day was a large rainbow that came to net, taken on a personally-tied woolly bugger.  Looking at the fish’s belly, it appeared to be spawning (or trying to spawn), and could have migrated from the reservoir to do so, as it was much fatter and larger than the other fish taken.  We quickly released this big girl back to the river after a few quick photographs in the net (#keepemwet).

A 16″ rainbow trout (with brilliant colors) taken from the Upper Savage.

Outside of nearly running out of gas (and realizing Western Maryland isn’t littered with gas stations like Washington D.C.), it was a beautiful day on the water.

One Comment Add yours

  1. John Ogram says:

    Sweet report and beautiful fish. Glad you are keeping your skills honed.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s