I finished meeting with the guys that run Monkton Bike and Tube (http://www.monktonbike.com). They rent inner tubes to people who float down the Gunpowder. I really enjoy talking to people who know and love rivers, and while this meeting was about a potential partnership, the discussion with Jim and Dan was largely centered on the Gunpowder and how amazing that river is.
Their shop is right on the NCR trail which parallels the gunpowder. A short walk up the trail brings you to an easy put in. I decided to explore a little. I didn’t have much time before I had to leave, but I had enough to get in for a quick dip, and fast look around. The water is brisk and it takes a minute before I get used to the chill. In the end the cold water feels great on this muggy afternoon. I scoot downstream a little with the current and don’t see much outside of interesting geology. I hang onto a rock to explore the bottom a little more closely, but still don’t see any fish. I turn to head downstream a little further and there, in my wake is a large school of shiner and stoneroller that pluck morsels of food from the water column I inadvertently scour off the bottom.
I knew there were fish here. It was just a matter of looking in the right place. And the fish that are here are interesting ones. Stonerollers have a hardened u shaped upper jaw that is perfect for grazing algae off rocks, which is exactly what they do. Common shiners will be lit up in neon green red and orange shortly in their quest to impress a mate.
The dark skies opened up and the rain drops pattered the surface. A distant clap of thunder slowly rumbled up the river valley. It was time to go anyway. I reluctantly swam back to the put in. I got to see amazing biology for just a quick dip, and I can’t wait to spend a whole lot more time in this river.