Trout fishermen ready for another year of reeling them in

Put-and-take season opens in Maryland

March 26, 2011|By Jean Marbella, The Baltimore Sun

Out there, they may grind it out at work or remain persistently unemployed, have all manner of romantic or familial trouble, and feel burdened by everything from taxes to traffic.

But here, on the banks of a sparkling river on the first day of put-and-take trout fishing season, all is well. For many of Maryland's anglers, Saturday dawned as their very own New Year's Day.

"We don't rush. We talk about life. We've had a lot of issues over the years — marriages, kids, divorces — but this is another year," said Gino Secola, 62, lingering in the parking lot with fishing buddy Bob Blasetti, 53, after wrapping up a successful morning on the Patapsco River. "This is what we're celebrating."

They were lined up and waiting with their fellow winter-weary fishermen when the gates at Patapsco Valley State Park opened at 5:30 a.m., 31/2 hours earlier than usual to accommodate itchy rod fingers. It was the fourth Saturday of March, the first day you can start catching and keeping your share of the 327,000 trout that Maryland's Department of Natural Resources stocks in public streams and ponds.

Throughout the day, others similarly made their way to their favorite spots, casting from shore or wading hip- or waist-deep into icy cold streams. At Patapsco Valley State Park, many opted for a stretch of the river near the Orange Grove swinging bridge. In earlier times, workers walked across the bridge from their homes to work at a flour mill on the other side of the river; today, bicyclists, hikers and, of course, trout fishers have taken their place.

"That's a big one!" Donnie Jones, 10, declared as his father reeled in a rainbow trout. It was the second fish Donald Jones, 39, had caught, he said, but the first keeper.

"The other one was too small," agreed his 7-year-old son, David.

"These are my fishing buddies," said Jones, a refrigeration technician. "That's all I live for, fishing and hunting with my boys. We like the outdoors."

While he and his sons also enjoy saltwater fishing and crabbing, this undoubtedly is Jones' favorite pastime.

"It's so close to home," said Jones, who lives with his wife and sons in Lansdowne. "It's a pretty good fighting fish. Most of the time we release them.

"Trout guys, they're in peace with nature. They're not the rowdy guys," he said. "These are your conservationists."

For all its urban surroundings — this part of the park is right off Interstates 95 and 195 near Elkridge — it is serenely peaceful once you enter, past the honor box that you're trusted to drop in a couple of dollars and through an arched stone railroad bridge.

"It's relaxing out here on the river, in the quiet, whether you catch a fish or not," Kenny Mittelstetter, 26, said. The latter was the case for him, as well as his friend Allan Whitley, 27, after a couple of hours of fishing, although Whitley's uncle, Rick Keys, 38, had managed to catch one.

They watched across the river as Gunter Bauer pulled out three in a row, wondering what his secret was. Bauer's buddy, Rick Miller, wanted to know as well — he was using the same bait and fishing the same waters but came up empty-handed even as Bauer reached his allowable limit of five.

"This satchel is getting heavy," Bauer, 48, of Hanover joked.

Miller, 52, of Pasadena even tried fishing from the swinging bridge at one point. "I was desperate. I was ready to jump off, with scuba gear and spear," he said.

Baltimore Sun outdoors writer Candus Thomson contributed to this article.

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