The Savage River is located in Garrett County, Maryland. Its 29.5 mile length includes a headwater section, Savage River Reservoir, and its tailwater section from the Savage River Dam to its confluence with the Potomac River at Bloomington, Maryland.
Both the headwater and tailwater stretches are popular trout streams in Maryland.
Upper Savage River
The headwater section of the Savage River is recognized as an important habitat for native brook trout. In 2006 the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) listed brook trout, Maryland’s only native freshwater trout species, as a “Species in Greatest Need of Conservation”.
As a result of the listing, a brook trout Fisheries Management Plan. Upper Savage River restoration was accomplished by a partnership of federal, state, and local agencies, the Savage River Watershed Association (SRWA), volunteers, and private donors.
Restoration work included the removal of the old Savage River Headwater Dam and re-routing of the stream. The new stream flow allowed brook trout to access the entire headwater section of the river.
Savage River Reservoir
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers maintains the Savage River Reservoir for flood control and recreation. The reservoir covers approximately 360 acres. Big Run State Park, located at the reservoir’s northern end, provides camping, day use areas, and non-motorized boat access.
In order to perform repairs on a faulty gate, the reservoir was drained in early 2010. In 2009, prior to draining the reservoir, biologists sampled fish populations in the reservoir. The survey found largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, black crappie, rock bass, redbreast sunfish, green sunfish, pumpkinseed, bluegill, yellow perch, walleye, rainbow trout, brook trout, yellow bullhead, swallowtail shiner, bluntnose minnow, and white sucker.
After the reservoir was refilled, several species of fish were re-stocked in the impoundment, including largemouth bass, black crappie, bluegill, redear sunfish, walleye, and rainbow trout. In addition to stocked fish, biologists believe that some species moved down from the river headwaters after the reservoir was re-filled.
Savage River Tailwater Trophy Trout Fishing Area
The tailwater section of the Savage River resulted from the completion of the Savage River Reservoir Dam in 1952. The Savage River Tailwater Trophy Trout Fishing Area, which runs through Savage River State Forest, is one of the best places in Maryland to catch trophy class wild trout including browns, rainbows, and native brook trout.
Fishery management practices for the waterway have evolved over time. The tailwater area has been managed as a wild trophy trout fishery since 1991.
In 2008, A DNR survey recorded an average of 1,376 adult trout per mile, with trout exceeding 1,700 fish per mile in some areas. The survey also found blacknose dace, longnose dace, white sucker, Potomac sculpin, and Blue Ridge sculpin in the river’s tailwater.
In addition to being a prime area for fly-fishing, the tailwater section is popular for whitewater paddling and racing when sufficient water is released from the dam.
In 2009, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced that didymo, an invasive non-native algae had been found in the river below Savage River Reservoir.