Trout increasing in Gunpowder Management efforts have boosted count


February 14, 1993|By PETER BAKER

Over the past six years, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Maryland Chapter of Trout Unlimited have imbued Gunpowder Falls with a reputation for excellence. And figures from an electroshocking survey in September back up that reputation.

The number of trout per mile at the Falls Road station has increased by more than 1,200 since special regulations were started on the tailwater fishery below the Prettyboy Dam in 1987.

According to DNR statistics, the young of the year index and fingerling brown trout showed an increase of 900 percent throughout the catch-and-return portion of the Gunpowder.

Perhaps the best statement that can be made about the Gunpowder, however, is that the fishery is the result of intensive management by the DNR and volunteer efforts of MCTU.

MCTU, you will remember, was instrumental in getting the Baltimore Department of Public Works to agree to set a minimum for water releases from Prettyboy Reservoir.

"They were real instrumental . . ." said Bob Lunsford, director of cold-water fisheries for the DNR, "in doing assessments on the habitat, in essentially pushing us toward recognizing it for what it was."

Before the water releases were regulated, MCTU president Jim Gracie said on a trip to the Gunpowder earlier this year, the river could at times become no more than a creek.

2 With the minimum flows, the river has become a viable habitat for wild trout, especially browns.

"It has been very successful," Lunsford said. "More successful than several people had hoped when it started."

The best areas have become the section from the Prettyboy dam to

Falls Road, where there are 250 pounds of trout per acre and probably a larger percentage of larger fish than in other areas of the river.

The best to worst among the other areas, in terms of pounds per acre are as follows: Falls Road, Quarry Station, York Road, Bunker Hill Road, Bluemont Road, Glencoe Road and Masemore Road.

While there was an increase in number of trout per mile at all survey stations, there was a decrease in pounds per acre in four areas.

What bodes best for the Gunpowder, is that the number of fingerling brown trout in the river increased

from about 200 per mile in 1991 to 1,800 per mile in 1992.

Those fingerling browns will take perhaps as long as two years to reach 10 inches. At that point, the fishery will be at peak form.

But even at the moment, the Gunpowder is an incredible accomplishment, a project that blends public interest and government actions in the best way.

This year, the catch-and-return area has been extended from Falls Road to York Road for a total of 8 miles of trout waters under special regulation.

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