Maryland fishermen who missed the early put-and-take trout season this year will have a second chance.
Maryland is the beneficiary of an unusual surplus of 20,000 federal trout from a hatchery in Southwest Virginia. The Washington area will share in the extra fish, with 3,200 slated for stocking on Thursday, 1,600 in the nearby Northwest Branch and 1,600 expected to go in the Patuxent River between Triadelphia Reservoir and Rocky Gorge.
The Patuxent stocking plan is tentative. David Hughes of the state fisheries administration said it depends on the water level there. If it's too low the fish will go instead to the Little Seneca Creek near Germantown.
Hughes also cautioned that there is always a chance the whole stocking procedure could be postponed or canceled because of bad weather or transportation problems.
The Northwest Branch, which crosses such major thoroughfares as Randolph Road, University Boulevard and Colesville Road in Montgomery and Prince George's counties, was stocked by the state for the first time this spring.
Chuck Woods of the Potomac-Patuxent Chapter of Trout Unlimited, which pushed for stocking the Northwest, said the spring program was highly successful, with an estimated catch of better than 75 per cent of the fish. In put-and-take programs success is measured by the number of fish taken; there is no incentive to release caught fish because most would not survive high temperatures of the shallow streams in summer.
There's an additional benefit to this late stocking this week. The state wants to make sure the fish are taken quickly, before temperatures rise, and it's annoucing exact locations of the stocking points. On the Northwest Branch the trucks will make two stops: Adelphi Mill at the Adelphi Road crossing, and Randolph Road.The Patuxent stocking points are just below Brighton dam and at Mink Hollow Road, Hughes said.
Ten thousand surplus federal trout already have been stocked in the last two weeks in Maryland waters. David Woronecki of the fisheries administration said there were recent stops at Middle Creek in Frederick County, Beaver Creek and Greenbrier Lake in Washington County, Bear Creek and Savage River in Garrett County and two streams in Baltimore County.
There will be other stockings in Western Maryland later this week, Woronecki said.
The fish are slightly smaller than normal stocking size, about two fish to a pound and ranging a length for nine to 12 inches, Woronecki said. "We get them totally free, except for the transportation costs," he said.
Interested? Head for the Patuxent or the Northwest Branch this weekend, armed with live bait, corn, flies, whatever you choose. There are no bait restrictions on either stream, but fishing licenses are mandatory for adults.
There are fish tales and there are stranger-than-fiction fish tales. John Rafferty of Kensington was fishing for sea trout last week in Delaware Bay and having a bad time of it. He hadn't landed a fish all day.
Then he got what he was sure was a bite. He started reeling in and realized he had a whopper on the line.
He pumped and cranked, pumped and cranked and finally the big fish emerged, complete with a hook, sinker line and rod and reel from some other unlucky angler.
The five-pounder apparently had pulled a stout boat rod out of someone's hands and had been roaming the deep dragging it behind for no one knows how long.
"It was a good reel, too," said Raferty. "We cleaned it up and it worked fine."