Summer drought crowds big fish in small ponds Outdoors

On The Outdoors

October 22, 1998|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,SUN STAFF

Each autumn the Department of Natural Resources stocks select waters across the state with trout, a process meant to provide recreational angling for rainbows that can weigh a pound in October and considerably more if they hold over until early spring.

This year, however, after a long, dry summer, DNR's Freshwater Fisheries Service was faced with a dilemma -- where to stock nearly 50,000 adult rainbow trout.

The drought this summer has left many streams that are usually stocked in the fall as trickles connecting a series of small pools.

"In some of the Frederick County streams, like Friends and Owens creeks, if you stood in the right place you could stop [water] flows for 10 minutes," said Howard Stinefelt, DNR's cold-water specialist. "And if you put all these big fish in a small, shallow pool, you could almost pick them up like Easter eggs. We try to make it a more fair event to give the fish a chance."

Even though a couple of inches of rain has fallen this month, Stine-felt said, many of the smaller mountain streams from Frederick to Cumberland still are "bone dry, dusty dry" between pools.

"On some of those streams, that happens almost every year," said Stinefelt, noting that even in the best years the thin, mountain soil drains fast and runoff quickly disappears downstream. "This year it is a little bit more extreme than normal. Usually by October we have some water. But even though we have had 2- to 2 1/2 inches of rain in the last few weeks, it has totally disappeared."

The alternative for this year's fall stocking was to place the trout in lakes, ponds and larger rivers. The stocking program was completed last week.

Stinefelt said the streams and upper areas of rivers in the lowlands areas have fared much better than the waters out west, and in certain areas anglers can expect decent trout fishing through the winter and until the closures for spring stocking.

"That's what we have found in the past," said Stinefelt, adding that every stocked area received a portion of 20,000 holdover rainbows weighing a pound or more.

During the winter, when even warm-water fishery areas are cold enough for trout, Stinefelt said the hatchery fish that survive feed heavily.

"For example, early spring fishermen in the Daniels Area of the Patapsco do very well on plump rainbows," Stinefelt said. "They have to be holdover fish, because they catch them before we have stocked for spring."

Area waters and number of trout stocked include:

Frederick County -- Cunningham Falls Lake, 2,000; Carroll Creek, 500; Rainbow Lake, 1,000; Whittier Lake, 500; Woodsboro Pond, 500.

Carroll County -- Farm Museum Pond, 750; Westminster Pond, 500; Taneytown Pond, 500; Bennett Cerf Pond, 250; Upper Patapsco River, 1,500; Morgan Run (catch and return area), 500.

Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties -- upper Gunpowder Falls, 2,000; Patapsco River, Avalon, 2,000; Patapsco River, Daniels, 2,500; Lake Waterford, 1,000; Stansbury Park Pond, 1,000.

Howard and Montgomery counties -- Great Seneca Lake, 1,000; Patuxent River special area, 500; Centennial Lake, 1,000; Little Patuxent, 1,000

Prince George's County: Laurel Lake, 500.

Harford County -- Deer Creek, 2,000.

Cecil County -- Big Elk Creek, 2,000; Howard Pond, 1,000.

Bassmaster winner

The $409,450 Kmart Bassmaster Top 150 tournament fished on the Mississippi River Delta last week was won by Kenyon Hill of Norman, Okla.

The victory was Hill's first Bassmaster title. First place was worth $74,000 and a $26,000 bass boat.

Fishing updates

Upper Chesapeake: From the Conowingo Dam on the Susquehanna River to Kent Island above the Bay Bridge, there are reports of rockfish hitting plugs, poppers, bucktails and spoons in the shallows in the evenings, with the Patapsco, Chester and Magothy rivers all good choices for catches occasionally reaching 32 inches.

Middle Chesapeake: Rockfish catches improved over the weekend, according to reports from the Department of Natural Resources, with the Hill, Diamonds and Stone Rock the best locations.

Lower Chesapeake: Looking for bluefish, and want something more substantial than the 1- to 3-pounders farther up the bay? According to DNR, the eastern edge of the shipping channel from Hoopers Island Light to the Target Ship is loaded with blues, with some reaching 9 pounds.

Tidal Potomac River: Early action for largemouth bass over the grass beds with topwater baits and wood or ledges good choices later in the day with plastics or crankbaits.

Susquehanna River: Increased flows from Conowingo Dam have improved the fishing, especially for rockfish, which are hitting poppers, stick baits and sassy shads as well as trolled hoses.

Upper Potomac River: Flows range from slightly below normal to normal, and the river is clear. Crayfish, shiners, grubs and tube lures all are good choices for excellent smallmouth fishing.

Inshore Ocean City: Snapper blues, kingfish, some puppy drum and the occasional keeper rockfish are likely in the surf. The Route 50 bridge has been excellent for sea trout and good rockfish of various sizes.

Offshore Ocean City: Boats that have been able to get offshore have done well on yellowfin tuna at the 30-fathom line and Poorman's Canyon.

Pub Date: 10/22/98

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