The air is crisp, whitetails are in rut and the forest game season opened yesterday -- but there is still time to get in a few casts withthe fishing rod before the statewide modern firearms deer season opens Nov. 30.
Some anglers like to fish beyond deer season, even allwinter, and among them is Carroll countian Brian Evans, who occasionally fishes Piney Run Reservoir but is more interested in trout in wintertime.
"Can I do this in Carroll County?" he asks.
Well, a person canfish most anywhere year 'round, but catching is another matter. The state-stocked rainbows are pretty much gone by now, so I passed the question on to Bob Bachman, who heads freshwater fisheries for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
His suggestion was Morgan Run Special Area, an arm of Liberty Reservoir, about five miles south of Westminster in the Morgan Run Natural Environmental Area. It's restricted to artificial lures, and the target could be a stray rainbow or two -- but more exciting is the presence of brown trout, which carry over better and bite better this time of year.
The department has stocked brown trout there, and they appear to be doing nicely; they do bite in the chilly months on artificials.
Anglers are asked to put their fish back, but the catching is the fun. Barbless hooks are recommended.
The special fishing area is from London Bridges Road upstream to the bridge on Route 97. Details on fishing special fishery management areas are found on pages 14-17 in the Maryland Freshwater Sportfishing Guide issued with fishing licenses.
Incidentally,an even better bet, though a bit longer drive, would be Baltimore County's Gunpowder, which runs from Prettyboy Reservoir just a few miles west of Carroll. It also has browns -- and now even has natural rainbow reproduction, which is something quite unusual in Maryland.
The Gunpowder has made a spectacular comeback in recent years. It is among the most popular trout streams in Maryland and has been ranked among the best in the United States, thanks to improved water flow from Prettyboy. Details on its offerings are also found in the guide.
Another suggestion for fishing hereabout this time of year -- other than Liberty and Piney Run, where the catching is still going on -- would be the Monocacy, where a fellow, if he likes hunting squirrels, can combine squirrel shooting with bass fishing.
Gene Stover of Phoenix, Baltimore County, is a longtime member of Forest and Stream Club near Detour, and prefers the rod with a reel attached over the rodwith a trigger.
Generally he sticks with fishing while his companions do both. Their sneakboating excursions mix their bags, but Stover likes to stay with seafood.
He likes something else, too -- and that's keeping a journal of his catches that covers what, when and where. Let's take a peek:
In waters within a mile upstream and downstream of the club that was founded along the Monocacy River in 1874, Stover and his group took 196 fish, of which 64 were keepers -- though not all were kept. Most were smallmouth bass.
That was early in the squirrel season, so only Stover targeted bass. Companions Bill Swift, Phil Ohler and his son, Gil Stover, spent much of their time scouting for bushytails.
That's mighty good fishing, and they got them on broken back Rebel swimming plugs, Tiny Torpedo propeller-equipped surface lures, Rapala swimming plugs and Jitterbugs, which are one of the oldest surface plugs still around.
A week later, Stover fished while the remainder of a different party preferred hunting, and he got 15 fish, of which 10 were smallmouths on real worms and Mepps Spinners. The other fish were primarily redeye bass, a scrappy smallercousin of our bass, but with more girth and a better taste.
The Monocacy is one of few Maryland waters where redeyes are caught regularly.
A native of primarily Georgia and Alabama, it is quite similar to spotted and smallmouth bass. It gets its name because their eyesand their fins are a bit more reddish than our native bass.
In Maryland, a 12-incher is considered good -- even in Deep Creek Lake -- though a few have been taken that weight close to 8 pounds in Southern states. Those who fish redeyes regularly claim they are more difficult to catch.
Stover said he finds they prefer the same baits as smallmouths and largemouths, though in smaller sizes -- and he prefersa hard plastic crawfish bottom-grubbing bait.
Spring is the best time for redeyes, based on Stover's log.
During a week's trip lastApril during which three days of fishing were wiped out by rain, Stover and a small party took 108 fish, of which 40 were redeyes, many of them 11 to 12 inches. They also got 62 regular bass, of which 35 met the 12-inch minimum, four bluegills, one crappie and one catfish.
On that junket, they used silver Rapalas, deep running Mud Bugs, Tiny Torpedoes, Hula Poppers, spinners and small spinnerbaits. Stover said he has found surface plugs produce best in late season.