Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Disappointment At Dickerson

Holt and I took of for Dickerson this past Saturday at 0900. He showed up with a sausage biscuit and a cup of coffee so thing were off to a good start.

If you are unfamiliar with this area, it is near Poolsville, Md. There is some sort of power plant that releases hot water. The river on a good day is warm enough to put your hands in to warm them up in winter. There is also a kayak slalom course. 

Its been a long time since I fished here. It used to be a regular spot when I split my weekday fishing between Big Hunting Creek and Dickerson as my go-to winter spots back in the late 90's and early 00's (when I was single, in school, and worked in fly shop. Oh, and gas was $1 a gallon back then).

In the winter you will find all sorts of fish hanging around the mile or so section downstream from the outflow. Smallies, largemouth (why no one calls them largies is still a mystery to me), catfish, bluegill, and carp. A black streamer or stonefly emerger is all you need. The issue is IS THE HOT WATER COMING OUT. You have no idea until you get there. The old saying is that if the steam is coming out of the towers, the hot waters is coming out too.

I tied up some small Reaper flies for the trip plus grabbed some Snowhite Damsels which are always productive here.

We drove along the Potomac which was frozen over. Its about an hour drive due to traffic and small roads.
 Memorial Bridge
 This is the Three Sisters section of the Potomac. Rather deep, up to 180 feet in spots. Its where the Walleye are hiding this time of year.

 Holt had the Man U match playing and showed me his new mouse fly perfected off my Splat Rat.
 Oooh, is that steam coming out of the stacks? I'm excited.

 We get closer to the location. This is most likely a parasitic plant growing on the side of this tree. I used to drive out here all the time when I worked as an environmental engineer. I was testing the soil for compactness (it has to be 95% to pave) at the G.E. building near the Cougar Dome (best name for a high school field) in the area and drove past Dickerson daily.

One day I was testing the soil and two construction workers ran past me and just said 'run'. So I did. Turns out one of them ruptured a gas line. It was not a fun morning.

The ponds were great for birding, lots of winter ducks.
Listening to the Man U match. 
 The signs tell you where to park.
 Is there snow falling in this pic for you too? That is very strange. Anyway, you get out and either walk straight across the C&O Canal to the river or walk up the tow-path to the plant. Its about a 15 min walk up river.

The water at the outflow below the slalom was very clear, almost green/turquoise with several feet visibility. I tied on the Reaper and waded in. The water was cold. My feet and legs quickly went numb. I started casting and got nothing. I switched to a damsel, nothing. I put my hands in and the water was cold. This was not promising.

I worked the water while Holt cast from shore. I didn't see any fish.

I got out to warm up and walked up to the top of the fishing area. I cast and mended everything heavy to get it down deep. Nothing.
Stoneflies were coming off. Winter stones as they are called. While wading I could see them wriggling just under the surface. The branches along the shore were covered in the adults. Nothing was eating them. I put on a flash back, soft hackle pheasant tail and got nothing.

This is the sign below the slalom.
 I put on a bullet weight to get down deep. NOTHING. You probably guessed by the title of this post that we got skunked.
 Me and Holt walked down the shoreline (you could tell the water was a little bit warmer as no snow or ice was on this shore, the opposite shore was covered). We walked, I totally wiped out on the slippery bank and had to wade out to wash off. Holt found some expensive lures. We found some bait dunkers who caught a couple of carp. We called it and decided to head to Four Mile Run.
 We got to Four Mile Run near low tide. We got into bluegill right away. Temps were in the 50s so it was crowded. Todd Kim won with this goldfish he landed on a nymph type fly thing. At least we caught some fish. It was a long day.



As the President of the C&O Canal Trust, the official nonprofit partner of the C&O Canal National Historical Park, I very much enjoyed your posting. (I am an angler myself!) Can we use the picture of the Towpath with the snow falling on our Facebook page? All those wishing to help us care for this national treasure are urged to visit

I was there 2 weeks back when it was 12F and windy. Caught a big fallfish and a bluegill - nothing else. A huge sheet of ice smashed me in the rear and almost knocked me over. Scared the hell out of me. Filmed a gold-crowned kinglet for about 15 minutes, then the wind picked up and my hands froze....tried dunking them in the water which helped, but we gave up around noon. Went to a pub in Germantown and called it a day.

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