OAKLAND -- A 5 1/2 -pound largemouth bass is nothing to sneeze at, but for Tom Meadows it wasn't the highlight of his fishing at 200-acre Broadford Lake the other morning. He was more excited about the one that got away.
And, the "one" wasn't a bass. It was a tiger muskie, which he caught and promptly lost.
After taking the 20 3/4-inch bass on a purple plastic worm with green flake, Meadows switched to a sppiner-bait, hooked the muskie-and it came stright toward him. Meadows yanked and the fish came ashore, he reeled wildly to get in the excess line, the fish threw the hook, and splashed back into Broadford.
The fish is back with presumably hundreds of others of its kin all stocked here by the Department of Natural Resources in an experiment that is paying off big.
In 1989, a short-lived state record tiger of 23 1/2 pounds and 45 inches in length was taken here, a mark that was beaten last year by a catch in the upper Potomac where experimentation also is under way.
It all started in the mid-1980s when the DNR stocked 5-inchers, later some of 8 to 9 inches. Each effort represented about 1,000 of these gamesters, said regional fisheries biologist Ken Pavol, who added that stocking continues when fish, funds and management time are available.
The stocking has accomplished two things. It has thinned out the populations of small sunfish, golden shiners and crappies that were overwhelming the lake just off Route 219, and has created excitement among anglers.
Enough excitement, I might add, that I gave up a morning at nearby Deep Creek Lake to try casting here for a tiger. I got a couple small bass, no signs of a muskie, but I encountered West Virginian Roy Sprankle who also had a tale of one that got away.
Like Meadows, he was fishing bass from shore when his buzzbait disappeared, and line raced from his spool. The fish made a frothy wide swirl, leaped, took another run and popped 10-pound test line like thread, Sprankle said.
That was three weeks ago, and he has been back six times in hopes of another chance -- but now he has 17-pound test on his casting rod. He has a chance for a rematch, said Pavol. Muskies seem to thrive in Broadford, more so than landlocked striped bass that also have been stocked here.
A few stripers have been taken, but muskie tales are more common. And these fish continue to get bigger, thanks to the abundance of forage fish. And while they eat to grow, the smaller forage fish face less competition for food and cover, resulting in catches of heavier crappies and sunfish.
Bass do well here, also. It was two years ago on the eve of the mid-June opener of the bass season that Meadows got a 10-pound largemouth, which he promptly put back. Pavol said the biggest bass he has seen in Maryland came from Broadford while he was electro-shocking fish in a study.
He didn't get a chance to weigh it because it was elusive and his net wasn't up to the task, but he estimates it could have weighed 10 pounds. Catfish, trout, perch and walleyes are other possibilities.
Boat rentals are available at Broadford, a facility managed by Oakland, and there is a launching ramp for private boats. However, gasoline engines are banned -- though bassboats are allowed if the outboards are raised from the water and capped in plastic bags.
DNR proposes Canada goose date
The Department of Natural Resources has proposed a tentative Tuesday, Nov. 19 opener for Maryland's Canada goose season. The midweek beginning is expected to lessen the impact on early honkers.
There is a possibility -- depending on later fall flight information -- that the season could open a week earlier. The length of the season and daily bag will not be proposed until early August.
The late opener is planned to reduce the harvest of early geese, which are considered successful adult breeders; also their young. DNR assistant secretary Don MacLauchlan described them as the "backbone" of our wintering population, MacLauchlan also cautioned that it will take several more years to restore winter populations.