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Fish and Chips

Not me. My new goal for the day -- revised from the earlier catch-a-fish goal -- was to return to my motel room and turn up the heat. And I succeeded brilliantly.

The next day, Sunday, was gorgeous. The clouds cleared, the wind subsided and the air warmed. I planned a drive around the lake and a stop at Swallow Falls State Park to see the frozen cascades. It would be a perfect day for ice fishing, with the sun warming my back, but I decided to catch my fish another day. There was no rush.

A fisherman pulls a cold one from Maryland's Deep Creek Lake. After a slow start to winter, outfitters now report one to five inches of ice on the lake and lots of fishing, uh, action. (Tom Darden)

Besides, remember what happened to Santiago's marlin? His prize catch was eaten by sharks. It just doesn't pay to be obsessive.

Escape Keys

GETTING THERE: Deep Creek Lake is about a three-hour drive from Washington. Take I-270 past Frederick onto I-70 toward Hancock, Md., then I-68 through Cumberland. Take Exit 14A and follow Route 219 south to the lake.

ICE FISHING: For supplies, try Deep Creek Outfitters (32 Outfitters Way, 301-387-2200, www.deepcreekoutfitter.com), where you can buy all you need for a day of ice fishing for about $50, plus $5 to rent an auger. Ask the staff where the fishing is good -- and safe -- that day, or just look for people out on the lake. Plans for the Deep Creek Lake Ice Fishing Tournament usually held in February are uncertain, given this year's late-coming freeze. For information, contact Bill's Outdoor Center, 20768 Garrett Hwy., 301-387-3474, www.billsoutdoorcenter.com. Other ice fishing spots in the region include Scotts Run Lake at French Creek State Park in southeastern Pennsylvania about 50 miles from Philadelphia (843 Park Rd., Elverson, 610-582-9680, www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/parks/frenchcreek.aspx). Farther away -- about four hours from the District, well north of Altoona -- is Parker Dam State Park in central Pennsylvania (28 Fairview Rd., Penfield, 814-765-0630, www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/parks/parkerdam.aspx). Parker Dam features a kids' ice-fishing derby this Saturday. For current ice-fishing conditions at all of Pennsylvania's state parks, go to www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/winter/wintera.aspx.

STAYING THERE: Will o' the Wisp (20160 Garrett Hwy., Oakland, Md., 301-387-5503, www.willothewisp.com) has lakeside condominium units up to three bedrooms, starting at $97 a night. For luxury and charm, nothing beats the Lake Pointe Inn (174 Lake Pointe Dr., McHenry, Md., 301-387-0111, www.deepcreekinns.com), nestled between the lake and the resort with a porch and great room overlooking the cove. Rooms are from $173 to $259 a night.

EATING THERE: Deep Creek Brewing Company (75 Visitor's Center Dr., McHenry, Md., 301-387-2182, www.deepcreekbrewing.com) has good pub-style food for lunch or dinner. Great wings, and the beer's good, too. The closest thing to haute cuisine may be DC's Bar and Restaurant at Wisp Resort (296 Marsh Hill Rd., McHenry, Md., 301-387-4911, www.wispresort.com). Typical steaks, salads and seafood.

INFO: Garrett County visitors information, 301-387-4386, www.garrettchamber.com.

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