Angler survives scary Deer Creek


May 20, 2007|By CANDUS THOMSON

At age 71, Jack Streb isn't one to get swept off his feet, go off the deep end or get in over his head.

But he checked all the boxes late last month when a short but intense cloud burst turned his Deer Creek shad fishing trip into a full-contact sport.

Luckily, except for a sore tailbone, the Pasadena angler survived and - miraculously - so did his fancy fly rod and reel, thanks to the keen eyes of other anglers.

Streb and a buddy got to their favorite Harford County shad site about 8 a.m. April 28 and staked out the landmark big rock by the pumping station. Streb, who had a leaky boot, considered it a good sign because he could stand on the rock and keep his feet dry.

Although a light rain was falling, it wasn't enough to alter the stream. Unfortunately, it must have been pouring buckets upstream.

Wayne Blottenberger and Joe Bruce also were at the creek, fishing their way upstream and away from Streb and his buddy.

"The water was perfect. Clear with a little brown tinge to it," Blottenberger, 67, remembers.

About a half-mile from the pumping station at a spot where the creek makes a sharp turn, Blottenberger noticed a mass of leaves moving through the woods.

"It was a whole tree and it was flying down the creek," he says.

Blottenberger and Bruce realized the creek was rising at a dizzying and dangerous rate.

"I said to Joe, `Let's huff it back down there and warn those other guys,'" Blottenberger recalls.

Streb continues the story. "My buddy points at a log floating by and yells at me to get back. I was tying a knot and I thought, `I'll finish tying the knot,' but that quick, what was a foot deep was 3 feet deep.

"It's starting to come over the rock. I never saw it come up that fast. I knew I was in trouble."

A large log bashed Streb in the back and swept him off his perch. He bounced and caromed about 100 yards, fighting the whole way to regain his footing. Luckily, he says, he had gained a few pounds so his waders were tighter than usual and couldn't fill with water.

"It took all my strength to get to shore. I got up on that bank and I praised the Lord," he says. "When I got back to the car I looked at where the rock was and it was completely under water."

So were his rod and reel and two pairs of pliers.

Blottenberger and Bruce returned to fish the next day. First they found the pliers, then the road and reel.

"I couldn't see the rod, only the reel, which was black side down and silver side up," Blottenberger says. "I used it for two days and caught 100 fish with it."

Bruce took the rod and reel to Tochterman's, the Baltimore tackle shop and institution, where it's been in safe keeping, waiting for its owner to claim it.

"Tell him it has a fish on it," Tony Tochterman says.

Streb came away with his life and his gear intact and with a new respect for the power and quirky nature of Deer Creek: "When that water starts to come up, get out."

Up for grabs

An at-large seat on the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council - now held by Maryland and sat upon by Larry Simns - is being dusted off.

The governor has submitted three names to U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez for consideration: Capt. Monty Hawkins, an Ocean City charter captain and artificial reef activist; Capt. Mark Sampson, an Ocean City charter captain, shark expert and member of the Maryland Sport Fish Advisory Commission; and Simns, president of the Maryland Watermen's Association.

The MAFMC is responsible for the management of fishing in the federal waters off seven states, from New York to North Carolina.

Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Service director Howard King and Pete Jensen, a former DNR official and the chairman of the council, hold Maryland's two permanent seats.

The one held by Simns does not automatically go to Maryland, says council executive director Dan Furlong.

"Somebody else, one of the other states, could sneak in and take it," he says.

Recreational anglers who want a conservation-mined representative at the table should e-mail the director of the National Marine Fisheries Service, Bill Hogarth, at, and he'll pass along the good word to the commerce secretary.

A decision is due in late June.

In the hunt

Having mastered the mechanics of running a bear hunt, DNR is adding a few wrinkles to increase the chances of getting picked for one of 200 or so permits.

Starting with this year's lottery, DNR will use a preference point system in which applicants will get one additional entry in the random drawing for each consecutive year they participate.

Applicants must apply each year to retain preference points. Skipping a year means starting all over.

If an applicant is selected in the random drawing, but forfeits the permit, all preference points will be forfeited.

An applicant who participates in the bear hunt as a sub-permit holder or as a landowner sub-permit holder will not forfeit his or her preference points.

The bear season in Allegany and Garrett counties will be Oct. 22-Oct. 27 and Dec. 3-Dec. 8.

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