Abundant fisheries are a net asset

Diversity: From the open Chesapeake to small ponds, the county has favorite fishing spots for all kinds of anglers.

October 27, 2002|By SPECIAL TO THE SUN

With three major rivers and the headwaters of the Chesapeake Bay, Harford County runs the gamut of fishing opportunities. For those who know these waters, there is no better place to live.

Abingdon resident Tom Todd, treasurer of one of the local bass fishing clubs, stopped short of saying he lives here primarily because of the great fishing.

"I'll put it this way," he said, "I wouldn't want to go real far because the Chesapeake Bay area has such good fishing habitat and it provides fishing for all types of anglers.

"You have the small streams where you can trout fish, if that's what you want to do, and all the ponds you can do pan fishing with kids, and of course the bass fishing that I do, and then the ocean is nearby. It provides all the fishing anyone could want."

Among the top fishing attractions in the county:

Susquehanna River

The main tributary of the Chesapeake Bay, the Susquehanna River offers excellent fishing opportunities. It is one of the few places in the county to find smallmouth bass, which can be caught year-round. Rockfish can be taken in season, and the river also is home to pike, walleye and catfish. Deer Creek flows into the river at Susquehanna State Park and is popular for stream fishing.

In spring, hickory and American white shad move into the Susquehanna and Deer Creek for spawning. This fishery is catch-and-release only. A large white perch run occurs in the spring. White perch are catch and keep.

From Conowingo Dam to the mouth, where it empties into the Chesapeake Bay, the Susquehanna is tidal water. A Chesapeake Bay Sports Fishing License (tidal license) is required for fishing this portion of the river. Check the license for creek limits and seasons for all fish.

Fishermen can gain access to the river at two primary spots in Harford County.

Susquehanna State Park's Lapidum Boating Facility offers direct access to the river and the headwaters of the Chesapeake Bay downstream. Directions: Take Interstate 95 to Route 155 east to Lapidum Road (ends at boat ramp). For shoreline fishing, turn left onto Stafford Road and park at pull-offs. The ramp is open year round, and a $5 fee is charged. Yearly passes are for sale in the park.

Beware of rising water levels from Conowingo Dam. Call 410-457-4076 to learn when dam releases are planned.

Havre de Grace City Yacht Basin (410-939-9448). Adjacent to Tydings Park, the yacht basin is at the confluence of the river and the Chesapeake in Havre de Grace. It rests along the Susquehanna flats and offers access to upper bay fishing. From the free boat ramp, boaters can fish the flats or head out to one of the many rivers and tributaries of the Eastern Shore. Pier fishing is available at the adjacent Tydings Park, and along the piers at many of the parks throughout Havre de Grace.

Deer Creek

Rocks State Park has 855 acres of dense forests and large boulders rising above Deer Creek. The park is in northern Harford County, about 30 miles north of Baltimore and eight miles northwest of Bel Air on Route 24. Deer Creek is a Maryland State Scenic Creek and a popular put-and-take trout fishing site. Rainbow and brown trout are stocked in the spring.

Fishing in Deer Creek requires a nontidal fishing license and is permitted year-round, except during stocking periods. Check fishing regulations for specific dates.

Rocks State Park is at 3318 Rocks Chrome Hill Road, Jarrettsville. Park in designated, marked pull-offs along Route 24 in the park, 19 miles north of Interstate 95, Exit 77. 410-557-7994.

Backwater Angler provides guided fly-fishing for trout, smallmouth bass and panfish (such as bluegills). 410-329-6821.

Gunpowder River, Little Gunpowder Falls

The Gunpowder is a tidal river that offers a variety of fishing. In its lower reaches, anglers find largemouth and striped bass and easy access to the bay and fishing grounds around Poole's Island. Upriver, where it meets the Little Gunpowder Falls, trout and bank fishing are popular.

Among the popular spots along the Gunpowder:

Lower River: Mariner Point Park, 100 Kearney Drive, Joppatowne. 410-612-1677. This 38-acre waterfront park is on a peninsula between Taylors and Foster Branch creeks, and has fishing piers and a boat ramp into the Gunpowder River.

Upper River, put-and-take trout fishing: Gunpowder Falls State Park, Central area. 410-592-2897. Although most of the park is in Baltimore County, the Little Gunpowder Falls is a medium-size stream in Harford County that meanders through wooded hillsides and farm fields with shallow riffles and pools. Easy access from park trails along the banks make this suited for families. The water is warmer than in the upper Big Gunpowder Falls and can be wet-waded in late spring and summer. Trout (mostly rainbows) are stocked in the spring between Route 165 and Jericho Road. Other species of fish that are not stocked can be caught, including largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and sunfish.

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