Candus Thomson: Pasadena lake missing key ingredient for fishing

August 22, 2010|By Candus Thomson | Baltimore Sun reporter

When it comes to attractive fishing holes, Pasadena's Lake Waterford would seem to have it all: leafy neighborhood, plenty of parking, accessibility for the disabled, a paved walkway and benches at the water's edge.

The only thing missing? Fish.

Or at least not in numbers to make it worth your while.

"It's a shame, really," says George Bentz, founder of the Pasadena Sportfishing Group. "A real waste of a resource."

Don Cosden, the head of inland fisheries for the Department of Natural Resources, agrees.

"There's just not that many places like that in this part of the state," he says. "It's a shame to lose any of them."

Luckily, Lake Waterford has a champion in John Marshall, the Anne Arundel County official who oversees the park and 12-acre lake and hopes to find a short-term fix for what has been a problem decades in the making.

Traditionally, the lake gets stocked by the DNR with about 2,200 trout each spring. The transplants join a community of permanent residents listed on a sign along the bank: largemouth bass, crappie, pumpkinseeds, catfish and carp.

But last spring after a massive fish kill, the state discontinued the practice because of "insufficient oxygen levels  due to poor water quality."

Stocked trout "are dead within a day or two," Cosden says. "Nobody likes to see that. People wonder if that's a wise use of their money."

Bentz says conditions were so bad in April that participants at the PSG's annual kids fishing derby didn't catch a single finned critter. Not one.

The insanely hot summer weather didn't help water quality.

Lake Waterford was created by a dam across the upper Magothy River. Upstream, Magothy Branch snakes under Route10, Ritchie Highway and Jumpers Hole Road. The headwaters are in Elvaton Park.

Walking and wading from Lake Waterford to Elvaton Park, as I did last week, it's easy to imagine the kind of glop that has run off from the developments and unholy strip mall jungle that sit atop the watershed.

Earlier this year, the Magothy River Association gave the entire waterway a grade of "D." But the evaluation concentrates on the tidal waters of the river's main stem and doesn't extend up to Magothy Branch. One can only imagine what Lake Waterford contributes to the barely passing grade.

Marshall says he hopes to hire a consultant this fall to take samples of the water and lake bottom to help chart a course for improvements, as the budget allows. In addition, Cosden says one of his crews will do a stock assessment in the fall. Depending on what the consultant finds, deep-water bubblers or fountains to aerate the surface area might provide immediate relief.

"That lake has been an integral part of the community and an important asset to the Pasadena Sportfishing Group," Marshall says. "Right now, only the hardiest fish are going to survive. My goal is to get back on the state's stocking list. I'd like to do it for the spring 2012 season."

Cosden and Marshall say the best long-term solution is to dredge the entire lake -- a million-dollar effort -- to remove oxygen-depleting debris and create a deeper, cooler pool of water.

"Our experience is that it does make a difference and the lake often fixes itself," Cosden says. "But it is very expensive."

Once the fix is in place, Bentz and his group would like to see the DNR revise its stocking plan.

"We want to hold our kids derby there in the worst way," Bentz says. "The grownups clean the trout out in no time, and there's nothing left. DNR ought to put some sunfish and perch in there, something for the kids."

Derby time

While on the subject of Bentz and his derby, it's time to sign up for the fall version of said event Oct. 9.

He needs to have 50 junior anglers signed up by Sept. 13 to make the thing fly, so no procrastinating, gang.

Here's the deal: It costs $5 per child to register (the form is at pasadenasportfish The entry fee includes entrance to Fort Smallwood Park and a cookout. There are door prizes and awards.

Kids fish from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Members of the Pasadena Sportfishing Group will be on hand to offer advice and assistance. Anglers reeling in the largest white perch and striped bass will each get $200; second place is $100; third place is $75.

It's a great deal. Questions? Call Bentz at 410-439-3474.

Calling all geese

The Maryland Waterfowler's Association is having a calling contest Friday as part of the Maryland Hunting and Outdoor Expo at the Charles County Fair Grounds in La Plata.

Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. at the association's booth in Building D, with the competition at 11 a.m.

The entry fee for duck and goose callers 16years and younger is $15 for each category; for older callers, the fee is $25 each.

For details, call Greg Tracey at 410-365-4041. But use your human voice, please.

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