Discovering Maryland's Small Streams – Hunt & Fish

Discovering Maryland’s Small Streams

Posted on: July 31, 2018 By: FHMD

Central and Western Maryland’s small streams provide fishing experiences in picturesque settings. Checking on stream conditions before heading out is always a good idea, particularly before wading in or paddling. Many Potomac and Monocacy River tributary streams are home to a variety of gamefish. Smallmouth bass, however, remain high on the “hit list” for anglers tossing small crank baits, spinners or even fly-fishing efforts with poppers or streamers. Throw in the ever-present populations of red breast sunfish, rock bass, fallfish, and even channel catfish, and small stream fishing can become a salvation for the summertime angler.

Discovering Maryland's Small Streams

Many central Maryland streams flow through private property but can be fished with the use of a canoe or a kayak. Portions of the Gunpowder, Patapsco and even upper stretches of the Patuxent River have smallmouth bass populations along with the other species. Perhaps the best option for these fish are ultralight spinning gear and 4-pound test monofilament. Top lures would be crank baits like the classic Rebel Teeny Crawfish or the Rapala Floating Minnow in the 2-inch size. In-line spinners like Mepps and Panther Martins should also work well in blade sizes #0 through #2. Small hair jigs in weights 1/16th of an ounce will also catch a variety of fish that may be “holed up” in deeper pools. Some anglers prefer to cast small plastic worms on #2 hooks to entice smallmouths from laydowns, undercuts or rock ledge areas.

Discovering Maryland's Small Streams

The top-end size of bass is usually dependent on the size of the creek you are fishing. Traditionally, the smaller the water, the smaller the bass. In tributaries, adult smallmouths will run from 12 to 15 inches. In main stream areas of the Potomac or the Monocacy, top-end fish could reach 18 inches, with larger fish in the Potomac. All smallmouths are fun to catch and great sport with those high-flying, twisting leaps for freedom. On some days, the abundant red breast sunfish may steal the show along with fallfish or rock bass. And every once in a while, you’ll catch a holdover rainbow or brown trout that made its way down from designated trout areas on some streams.

Discovering Maryland's Small Streams

I can recall a trip a number of years ago to Allegany County’s Town Creek where we caught both smallmouths and a few rainbow trout that took our spinners and crank baits in the mid-summer heat. Along the way we found co-operative sunfish to be aggressive, willing biters. Our bass averaged around the 10-inch mark, but we did manage to land a few 14-inch class fish during the outing. During this time of year, look for quality fish in the deeper, shaded pools or areas with heavy, overhead canopy that shades and cools the water during the summer heat. Don’t overlook slow-moving troughs or undercuts that could harbor a few bass or panfish.

Discovering Maryland's Small Streams

Be sure to seek permission before you enter private property. Some streams contain holdover populations of stocked trout and are under special regulations even though they also have the bass and sunfish fisheries. Be prepared for hot temperatures and bring water, sunscreen and polarized glasses to make the day more enjoyable. Coupled with a long weekend or overnight stay at one of several central Maryland state parks, you can make plans to fish a variety of creeks and streams by either paddling or wading with ultra-light spinning gear or a fly rod.

Access Points for Starters:

– Patuxent Water Trail: Patuxent Riverkeeper, 17412 Nottingham Road, Upper Marlboro, Maryland. Canoe and kayak rentals available.

Patapsco Valley State Park: Smallmouth bass throughout and stocked trout in the Daniels area. 8020 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City, Maryland, 21043. 410-461-5005.

Monocacy Water Trail: Covers 41.8 miles of the Monocacy River from RT 77 downstream to the Monocacy Boat Ramp near Dickerson, Maryland. Call 301-600-2936 to request a Monocacy Scenic Water Trail Map.

Gunpowder Falls State Park: Small stream options for bass and some designated trout fishing areas. Call 410-592-2897.

A Few Others: Conococheague Creek, Town Creek, Wills Creek, Antietam and Middle Creeks in Frederick, Washington and Allegany Counties.


Be sure to visit our Plan Section for information on outfitters, guides, lodging options, and more to make the most of your trip to Central and Western Maryland.


This post was written by Jim Gronaw

Images courtesy of the author