It's fishing, not catching Relaxation: Anglers fish near BGE's C.P. Crane power plant to enjoy nature. It's nice, but not necessary, to catch a fish.

February 23, 1997|By Elaine Tassy | Elaine Tassy,SUN STAFF

John Dawkins spent yesterday morning fishing on a bridge over Saltpeter Creek adjacent to BGE's C.P. Crane power plant in eastern Baltimore County -- a relaxation ritual has attracted several dozen men each weekend for years.

"Just stand right here," said Dawkins, 34, of Middle River. "In about 15 minutes, I'm going to bring in Bubba," he said, laughing. "We call big fish Bubba."

Fifteen minutes later, Bubba hadn't bitten, but Dawkins wasn't bothered. "This is a place where I can come, be at peace, be around good, loving people. It's safe."

That's what most anglers were there for: a chance to relax alone or with other fishing enthusiasts and the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of nature -- whether they catch a fish or not.

Yesterday, it was mostly not: The majority of the fishermen, standing on the bridge that crosses the creek or in the water, said hours of fishing yielded not a nibble.

But at least the fish are there for the catching, even in winter.

A gate is opened at the Carroll Island Road plant at sunrise and closed at about 8 p.m. every day, and every day, someone is there fishing, BGE officials said.

Fishing begins at daybreak for some, but by mid-morning yesterday only a few fishermen had made a catch. Two men who had caught a fish apiece planned to make it dinner, but many others said they usually throw back part, if not all, of their catch.

"We don't have a problem with them fishing off the bridge there," said John T. Strawbridge, plant manager at the Crane station. He said the plant's condensers raise the temperature of water pumped from adjacent Seneca Creek about 7 degrees, then discharge it into Saltpeter Creek. "This temperature rise makes this an attractive fishing spot," he said.

Not everyone fishes off the bridge, though.

Michael D. Williams of Middle River, a factory worker dressed in a red baseball cap, a green flannel shirt and insulated waders, walked along a muddy, well-worn path, through three-foot holes in two chain-link fences, and down a leaf-strewn slope to get to a private enclave where he liked fishing alone.

"Just being out here, the quietness of it," he said as he stood waist-deep in the creek. "If you catch a fish, it's an added bonus. Pretty day like this, ain't nowhere better to be." He said he releases the fish he catches.

Catch of the morning

On the creek's opposite bank, Gregory Ryzhikov, a shuttle driver at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, made the catch of the morning around 9 a.m.: a carp more than a foot long. He connected it to a rope and left it in the water's shallow edge where it swished with its fins wiggling and its mouth open in a surprised O shape.

Ryzhikov, 61, who moved to Reisterstown from Russia four years ago today, fished with his teen-age grandson, Dmitriy Ponomarev, who was visiting from Brooklyn, N.Y. The two of them would bake or fry the carp, he said.

Howard Barnes, 64, of West Baltimore caught a small blue gill, but said he needed more to make a hearty meal. "I think about five of them" would be ideal, he said, adding that he'd dust his catch later with flour and Old Bay seasoning and pan-fry it.

Fish recipes

Like fish recipes, fishing and baiting techniques were very individualized. Robert Walters, 68, of Essex had fashioned a clamp from the vise of a meat grinder and a piece of pipe he found and slid his rod inside the pipe. Others, fishing with children, grandchildren, neighbors, friends or alone, wedged their poles in garbage cans or under blocks of cement so they could use several rods at once.

Eschewing traditional bait, Charles Harris, 57, of Essex made his own -- dough balls. He mixed up pinkish-orange wads that resemble Play-Doh using flour, sugar, cornmeal and his secret ingredient -- cherry Jell-O powder for flavor. "The carp like those," Harris, who has caught pike, white perch, rockfish, carp and catfish in the 15 years he's been frequenting the creek, said.

When nothing's biting, he watches the other forms of life -- deer dog-paddling across the water, ducks wading, eagles flying. About a dozen cats frequent the bridge, feasting on eel and small fish anglers don't want.

Absent yesterday morning were women.

"Maybe I'm a chauvinist," said Dawkins during his Bubba watch, "but I don't like fishing with a female. I just want to pay attention to my rod," said Dawkins, who is looking for work.

Spunky

When he does catch a fish -- like the 5 1/2 pounder he hooked in December -- he said it can take up to 10 minutes to reel it in. "It depends how spunky they is," Dawkins, said.

Perhaps yesterday they were too spunky, even for Kendall Barrett, 30, of Edgewood, a ceramic tile installer. He hadn't caught anything by mid-morning but had not given up hope. "They're in there, trust me, they're in there," said Barrett, who was releasing work-related stress while fishing waist-deep with a pal, Roger Duppstadt, 32.

When asked what he would do if he went home without a catch, Duppstadt, a mechanic from Chase, said: "Just come back tomorrow."

Pub Date: 2/23/97

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