Children learn to fish at City Catch event

Desteny Monahunt, one of about 100 inner city children who went fishing for the first time April 13, was philosophical about the experience.

"Nature is where you came from, where you get born at," said the Cherry Hill girl, who fished for rainbow trout in Leakin Park's Dead Run stream, a tributary of the Gwynns Falls. "There's a lot of things that you can learn from nature."

The annual City Catch event, a partnership between the Maryland chapter of Trout Unlimited and the Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks, was made possible in large part due to the efforts of a group of volunteers led by architect Tom Gamper, of Charles Village, a Gilman School graduate who is active in the Trout Unlimited chaper. Gamper last May led a similar event in which children from north Baltimore schools raised trout and released them into the Stony Run in Roland Park as part of a program called Trout in the Classroom.

Gamper and his team of 50 volunteers from around the Baltimore region spent a rainy Friday morning stocking the stream with 800 rainbow tout, each 12 to 18 inches long.

"We've been doing this going back to the Schafer administration," when the late Gov. William Donald Schaefer was mayor in the 1970s and much of the 1980s, Gamper said.

The children were paired with volunteers. They also got free fishing rods to keep from Tochterman's Fishing Tackle, a fishing supply store on Eastern Avenue. After lunch in the park, the children received fihing certificates and a book on fishing, stream ecology and good sportsmanship.

Now that the event is over, "the stream is available for whoever wants to fish it," Gamper said.

Volunteer Jim Gracie, of Ellicott City, grew up near the stream and fished in it as a boy.

"It's sort of a dream for me to be able to bring kids here as an adult," he said.

"Nature is a great thing.," Desteny said. " It does not only tell you how to catch fish — it tells you that you can do anything you want, if you put your mind to it. If I put my mind to it, I can learn to fish and so can you."

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