Where: Patuxent River, Laurel Stretch, near High Ridge Park, Laurel, Maryland
When: Early morning, March 31 2009
Water Temperature: 41°F
Permits: Maryland state permit and trout stamp (subject to closure periods 1,3)
Access: Excellent access via a paved footpath, hip-waders helpful
I had originally planned to drive to High Ridge Park and fish the length of the river next to it, but I got a little lost at 6 in the morning and wound up parking at a public swimming pool on 9th Street (where it intersects Main Street in Laurel) instead. From this parking lot there was a very nice paved footpath running along the river with several signs posted about the stocking program, so I decided it was as good a spot as any.
According to the Maryland Spring Stocking Table this stretch of the Patuxent should have been stocked with 720 trout sometime between March 8-28. Due to the closure periods, it had just opened to fishing on the 29th, so I figured there was a good chance there would still be fish in here a couple days later. Unfortunately, if they were in there, they were huddled at the bottom of the deeper pools still asleep at 6:30 in the morning. Maybe I should have still been asleep too, but I thought I’d try to get a little fishing in before work.
This part of the river is right next to a lot of apartment housing, so it probably gets a lot of pressure. I saw many signs of bait fishing (which is legal here outside of Closure Periods 1 and 3), and it is quite possible that they had already pulled most of the trout out of this section of water during the preceeding two days. Despite that, it is a fairly nice stretch of water. There is far less pollution than at Accotinck Creek, but maybe a little more that at Holmes Run. So, I walked about a half mile downstream, and then fished back up towards the car.
Most of the river is about 20 feet wide, varying in depth from 6 inches to several feet. There are many types of water to fish here: deep slow moving pools, fast shallow riffles, overhung banks. Even though I saw no sign of trout, I at least got a little practice in on my mending in some of the faster moving currents.
Despite the fact that I saw no trout, I haven’t quite written off this piece of water yet. I gave it a “yellow smiley” for the overall rating, because it is worth returning to try out the stretch of river a little further upstream adjacent to High Ridge Park. This would also be a great place to take a child fishing, or to teach a friend the basics of fly fishing, as long as you aren’t counting on catching a lot of fish. If a day of not catching anything is not your speed, you probably would only want to come on March 29th…but be prepared to be surrounded by bait dunkers.
I may come back here one more time to give it another chance. Maybe I was a little too far downstream, or maybe I was just up too early and it was too cold out. There are other stretches of the Patuxent River nearby that are catch and release though, so I’ll probably hit them before coming back.
A map of the entire stocked stretch of the Patuxent in Laurel is available here.