Middle Patuxent River Fishing Guide
Delayed Harvest Section – Near Laurel and Savage, MD
Middle Patuxent River Fishing Guide – with map – download this guide as a PDF with map (430 kb)
Middle Patuxent River Fishing Guide – no map – download this guide as a PDF with no map (247 kb)
Middle Patuxent River Trout Fishing Map – one page printer-friendly PDF, map only (186 k
The Middle Patuxent River near the cities of Laurel and Savage, Maryland has approximately three miles of Delayed Harvest trout fishing water. Maryland’s Delayed Harvest season is from June 1 through September 30. There are no bait or equipment restrictions during this season and the daily limit is five trout. From October 1 through May 31, the section is artificial only, catch and release.
This small section of the river is located just minutes from Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab and the tiny town of Savage, MD. You’ll pass through a few farms and several neighborhoods on the drive to either of the two primary access points (Murray Hill Road and Kindler Road). There are a few stretches on the river where you may see the backyards of residential houses but for the most part, it’s a seemingly secluded area.
The stream averages about 20-40 feet wide with a few spots a little wider (and shallower). Some of the better fishing holes can be waist deep or more in the spring but you can fish most of the river without ever stepping in water deeper than your knees. Like many of the streams in the area, it’s a low gradient stream with lots of flats and chutes and fish-holding spots around the many bends and downed trees. There is some faster moving water (not rapids) where you can find a good seam between a holding area and the middle of the river.
The bottom is mostly sand and gravel with clay in some spots. There are a few submerged rocks in sections and a few areas with large boulders along the bank. There are several fallen trees crossing the river and plenty of mature trees along the bank which provide shelter and shade throughout much of the year. Unfortunately, they aren’t enough to keep the water cool enough to be habitable by trout through the hottest parts of summer.
The Middle Patuxent River is far from a destination stream. No one flies in from the mid-west to fish these three miles of Delayed Harvest water. There are no fly shops serving this stream exclusively. While it can be crowded with bait fishermen on nice weekends during June through September, you’ll encounter few other fishermen during the catch-and-release season. On a cold day in February, you’ll likely be the only fisherman on the water. That being said, this is a decent stretch of stocked water within a few minutes of the DC beltway. If you only have a morning to fish, or want to skip out of work a couple hours early any weekday, the Middle Patuxent River is a nice option.
If you’re looking for more literature on this, and several other Maryland trout fishing streams, Charlie Gelso and Larry Coburn’s “Guide to Maryland Trout Fishing,” is a great resource. Referred to as the GTMTF throughout this, and other DC Angler Fishing Guides, this handy book is on its third edition-last printed in 2014. Steve Moore’s “Maryland Trout Fishing: The Stocked and Wild Rivers, Streams, Lakes and Ponds” is also another nice book for the area’s trout fisherman.
Like the main Patuxent River, the Middle Patuxent is stocked with both rainbow and brown trout. The Maryland DNR stocks rainbow trout at the two main access points in both the fall and spring. Exact numbers vary by season (1,500 trout were stocked in the 2011 season) and the number of fish stocked are generally less than the nearby Little Patuxent River by a factor of two or three. The Potomac-Patuxent Chapter of Trout Unlimited (pptu.org) also float stocks sections of this river although the total numbers of fished released are unknown.
There are no year-to-year holdover rates to speak of as the water reaches temperatures above 72 degrees by the middle of the summer and very few trout can survive in this environment. Most of the fish stocked in the fall survive the winter and by spring should be fairly well adapted to their new environment. These fish offer options for the angler throughout the winter and into the spring when the next stockings take place and add to the population. Most reports say the hatchery-raised rainbow trout are eagerly eating the rivers’ insects within 10-14 days of placement and are thus susceptible to be taken with a fly rod. Most of these fish will be taken by the end of July by the bait fisherman and the opportunities for fly rodders will diminish significantly in August and drop to near zero by September.
See the full-page map on the back page of this guide, or download a printable PDF at dcangler.com/fishing-guides to see the main access points.
Probably the best access point is where Kindler Road used to intersect the river. Heading to the river from the south (Goreman Road to Kindler) you will take a short drive through a neighborhood to a gate at the bottom of the hill. There is plenty of room to park along the side of the road at the bottom of the hill but do note that turning around can be challenging (the road is curbed). From the gate, you’ll walk about a quarter of a mile to the river. You’ll see old stone pillars where there was formerly a bridge leading to Kindler Road on the other side.
You can spend a couple hours on the river here, fishing either up or downstream. Upstream is mostly flat, fairly wide water with some undercut banks where you might find some fish holding. You’ll find a few decent sized submerged rocks and a couple areas with large boulders on the bank and deep pools in front of them. Wading this section of the river is fairly easy. In the spring you may encounter some waist deep sections (if trying to cross the middle) but for the most part you’ll be standing knee deep or less while fishing the deeper runs and flats.
Downstream is more of the same with a few fallen trees providing potential holding areas. The Kindler Road access is the most popular area to enter the river and in fact, it is the only section of the river where I have seen other fishermen on the water.
The second access point used is at the bridge at Murray Hill Road. There is room enough for maybe 2-3 cars and these spots are on the immediate side of the road. It doesn’t feel too dangerous but you might be putting on your waders with cars zooming by at 50 mph. It’s a short walk to the river from the road and access to the water is not difficult. You won’t be able to wade downstream from here as the river flows through private property. The scenario upstream is similar to the Kindler Road section with plenty of bends, a few flats and a few decent sized pools. There’s no real fast-moving water on this section with the exception of a few chutes where the river narrows and is forced through a funnel only a few feet wide. There is somewhat of a trail on the south side of the river but if the fishing pressure isn’t too much it’s probably just as easy to walk the river bed.
Nearby Fly Shops
There are no specific fly shops nearby. There is a Bass Pro Shop in Arundel Mills with their White River Fly Shop which usually has a decent assortment of equipment for the fly fisherman. To get there, head back to the BW Parkway and go north for about five miles. You’ll see signs for Arundel Mills Mall in Hanover. Hunting Creek Outfitters in Frederick, MD is a full-service fly shop (huntingcreekoutfitters.com, 301-668-4333) but is about 45 miles away (west on I-70).
Nearby Food and Shopping
Grabbing breakfast or lunch in the area is not a problem. There are plenty of fast food and other restaurants near APL and the town of Laurel. Just look at your phone or GPS and you’ll have many options within a 10 minute drive.
Of course, Arundel Mills has hundreds of shops and restaurants and it’s within 10-15 minutes of anywhere on the Middle Patuxent you might be fishing.
Hatches and Flies to Use
The hatch table shown below is identical to the one described for the main Patuxent River. It was created mostly from Gelso and Coburn’s GTMTF. My best day on the river came on a cold day in early March using an olive-bodied Elk Hair Caddis (#16). The river had been stocked once already that season (about three weeks prior) so I’m not sure if the rainbows I was taking were from the most recent stocking or were fall holdovers. Regardless, it was an afternoon when a few insects were on the surface and the trout were fairly eager to take my fly.
The Delayed Harvest section of the Middle Patuxent River is a decent stretch of trout water within about 25 minutes of the DC beltway (45 minutes from downtown DC). It’s a nice option for the fisherman who wants to get some time on the water during the fall and winter-perhaps looking to avoid the crowds the late-spring harvest season will bring. Trout fisherman would be wise to avoid this water in August and September, and fishing it in July likely won’t be much more productive.
Gelso, Charlie. Coburn, Larry. Guide to Maryland Trout Fishing: The Catch-andrelease Streams. N.p.: 188. Stackpole/Headwater, 2014. Print.
Moore, Steve. Maryland Trout Fishing: The Stocked and Wild Rivers, Streams, Lakes and Ponds. Place of Publication Not Identified: Calibrated Consulting, 2011. Print.
All photos were taken by DC Angler.