Anne Arundel pilot project to loan fishing gear from libraries generates reel interest

Library patrons might expect to see Dr. Seuss’ “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” at the Mountain Road Community Library — but not necessarily the instruments to catch ‘em.

Yet the Pasadena library is one of two in Anne Arundel County where people can check out fishing rods and gear — just as they would a book — through a partnership with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Jennifer Adams, Mountain Road’s branch manager, said the library has eight fishing rods and reels on hand, as well as a supply of tackle equipment. The branch also stocks books on fishing — both nonfiction help and some fish-inspired fiction. While the library rents out poles and tackle, it doesn’t offer fishing licenses – those are available at a fishing supply store across the street.

Adams said the program has hooked people who wouldn’t ordinarily try fishing to get into the sport, and away from their television sets.

“It’s also encouraged families to spend more time outdoors together,” she said.

The branch, at 4730 Mountain Road, started the pilot program last year, and it was such a hit that the DNR is expanding it this season. The Eastport-Annapolis Neck Branch Library, at 269 Hillsmere Dr., Annapolis, now has six fishing rods to lend, and the department is also setting up fishing gear loaner programs in select branches in Harford, Carroll and Frederick counties.

“By engaging the next generation of anglers, we can foster a passion for outdoor recreation and sports, and cultivate an appreciation and love of nature that will last a lifetime,” said Mark Belton, DNR secretary, in a statement.

The department’s Aquatic Resources Education Program provided the libraries with rods and reels, tackle and some fishing books, specifically geared toward children. DNR said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Sport Fish Restoration Program helped fund the program.

Patrons can borrow a pole for up to two weeks. There is a $1 fee for every day it is late and a $15 fee if the pole is lost. At Mountain Road, library associate Natalie Benjamin has created a display near the front door that details the program and suggests some fishing-related reading.

Volunteers from the nearby Pasadena Sportfishing Group regularly service the equipment, should the poles need repair or “come back kind of icky,” Adams said.

David VanMetre, a member of the group, praised the loaner program, saying it’s a convenient and cost-effective way to introduce youngsters to the pleasures of fishing.

“Loaning the rods out, the kids are learning to fish a little without the parents having to spend a lot of money to try it out,” he said.

VanMetre said the library approached the club last year about helping with the program, and members thought it would be a perfect fit. Pasadena Sportfishing Group already hosts youth fishing derbies twice a year, as well as other outreach efforts to introduce people of all ages to the sport.

He said Mountain Road is a good spot for the program because it is close to the Magothy River and good fishing spots on Gibson Island.

VanMetre should know. The 72-year-old said he’s lived on the Magothy his whole life, and started fishing at age 6. He said he hopes the library loaner program can hook others on fishing the same way it hooked him.

“I’ve been very lucky to live near a body of water and have enjoyed fishing all my life,” he said.

Baltimore Sun Media Group reporter David Anderson contributed to this article.

ctkacik@baltsun.com

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