The river sits deep in the western Maryland mountains. I met up with two good friends at Big Run State Park to camp, reconnect, and fly fish for a long weekend. We found a beautiful campsite along Big Run and spent most of the weekend exploring the watershed.
The water was low and cold, but the fish were active once the sun hit the water. Long drifts slung with 3 weight rods was the rhythm of the weekend. We saw midges, caddis, and mayflies in the air and plenty of stonefly nymphs crawling under the rocks.
This is Justin's first season fly fishing, so the first night was spent filling his fly boxes and showing him how to set up nymphing and dry-dropper rigs. He was a quick learner and landed himself some nice fish. It was my first experience teaching someone what I have learned and by Monday morning, I realized that I learned just as much by teaching than by being out on the water alone.
I hadn't seen Jeff in ten years and, with fly rods in hand, we quickly reconnected and fell right back into where left off the last time we had seen each other in the deep north Maine woods. He has a distinctive, independent style when it comes to fishing. Not a purist or an elitist, but one who fishes to be out on the water and in the moment. A true individual and an absolute blast to be on the water with.
Flies that worked: We fished almost exclusively with dry dropper rigs. Both orange stimulators and blue quills worked well on top while hot spot pheasant tails, prince nymphs, and the good old greenie weenie worked well under the surface.
The fish seemed to be most active mid morning and early evening. The state park is a gem. We practically had the place to ourselves the entire weekend. I think, due to its lack of services, most people end up going to New Germany and Deep Creek. Fine by me.
I stumbled upon the name "Raftman's Path" walking the river trail that traverses through the little town I live in. It was named during the days when lumber was a huge commodity in this area. The Susquehanna River was an industrial thoroughfare - bearing down loads of lumber from the northern reaches of Pennsylvania towards the Chesapeake. Marietta was a stopping point, a place for the lumber either to go to the mills lining its banks or shoot further downstream through pig iron smoke. Raftmen would guide the lumber down to the mouth of the Susquehanna into the Chesapeake - an estuary of salt, water, lumber, ore, eel and shad. When their job was done, they would walk the raftman's path back through the Susquehanna Riverlands of Lancaster County towards their homes. The path is now wooded and meanders through some of the only "wild" places left in the county.