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Outdoors commentary: Winter's end? Faint signs of spring

Paula Piatt at the Trout Unlimited booth at The Fly Show at Lancaster, Pa., with a brochure on Sportsmen Alliance for Marcellus Conservation.
Paula Piatt at the Trout Unlimited booth at The Fly Show at Lancaster, Pa., with a brochure on Sportsmen Alliance for Marcellus Conservation. (Bill May photo, Carroll County Times)

Enough with the snow and ice already!

Attending several outdoor gatherings in recent weeks, I kept hearing gallows humor type comments on the weather, e.g.: "We're holding an early season bass tournament; ice fishing equipment is allowed." "The DNR has begun stocking local streams - with Mrs. Paul's Frozen Fish Sticks." But there are happenings on the fishing scene, while we're pining for favorable weather and the chance to get out.

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Trout Stocking

In fact the Maryland Department of Natural Resources has begun stocking trout. You can find the schedules and stockings to date at http://dnr.maryland.gov/fisheries/stocking/index.asp. As you can imagine some stockings have been delayed. However, as of this writing trout have been stocked in Piney Run Reservoir, parts of the Patapsco and parts of the Patuxent among other places. I took advantage of a break in the weather on February 28 to visit the Patapsco River at Daniels and managed to get the attached photo of an anonymous, excellent nymph fisherman in action.

Streamer Fishing for Trout

On Feb. 19 the Maryland Chapter of Trout Unlimited (MDTU) hosted William Heresniak of Eastern Trophies guide service, who spoke on streamer fishing for large trout. In the last decade I've developed an addiction for trout over 20 inches. The recommended approach on most Western rivers is fishing large streamers, over 4 inches, on fast-sinking lines. Articulated, double-hook patterns tied on size 4 or larger hooks, such as some of the Kelly Galloup patterns, have become the standard flies. While at least five types of retrieves are used, the majority call for a series of quick twitches and strips using the rod tip as well as the line hand. Galloup's "Modern Streamers for Trophy Trout," recommended by Heresniak, describes many of these flies and techniques.

Heresniak uses these techniques on the North Branch of the Potomac and other rivers. I have fished with these techniques on Utah's Green River with only moderate success. When I review the roughly 15 to 20 trout of 20 inches or more I've taken, only one hit a streamer. Two took dry flies, and the rest hit size 14 beadhead nymphs or soft hackles. (Steelhead and silver salmon are another story: Big streamers have been the ticket for me, proving far better than egg patterns.)

I also remember Joe Bruce's telling me of a customer who came to his fly shop regularly to buy 3+-inch Clouser trout patterns, which he used to take took trophy browns on the Gunpowder River. The bottom line is I'm going to try to target trophy trout on streamers this summer - well aware the North Branch doesn't hold the trophies it did five years ago, and Gunpowder trophies are scarce.

Heresniak's website is easterntrophies.com, and he's posted a number of Eastern Trophies YouTube presentations on streamer fishing and tying Galloup streamers and unique Chuck Kraft patterns.

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The Fly Fishing Show

This great shows put on by Chuck Furimsky, once held at College Park, Maryland, moved to Lancaster, Pennsylvania three years ago, and I've attended them all. I highly recommend this show, one of several Chuck produces annually in the East, so check the internet at http://www.flyfishingshow.com next winter. I visited a number of booths, including Heresniak's and my buddy, Harold Harsh of Spring River, also fishing the North Branch. Our scheduled trip last fall was snowed out; we'll try again this year, Harold.

I spent some time speaking with guide Rob Lepczyk of Great Feathers Fly Shop. While I'm not a big fan of blogs, I love Rob's which can be found on the website http://www.greatfeathers.com. Great Feathers is a classic fly shop I highly recommend. My travel is restricted now with family illnesses, but I will definitely schedule a Gunpowder streamer fishing outing with Rob Lepczyk.

Fracking the Marcellus Shale/Sportsmen Alliance

This issue will continue to grow in importance in our area no matter what happens in Maryland, and I will continue to cover it. Paula Piatt, Eastern Sportsmen Organizer for Trout Unlimited (TU), gave an excellent summary of the situation in Pennsylvania at the Lancaster show, and she and I later compared notes.

I urge anyone with an interest in the outdoors, conservation and health to join the Sportsmen Alliance for Marcellus Conservation in their efforts to protect our environment and habitats. Having done serious research on fracking the Marcellus Shale, I agree with the Alliance's positions that stronger regulations and oversight are needed, including repealing industry exemptions to the federal Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Water Act (sometimes called "the Halliburton loophole"). See http://www.sportsmenalliance.org.

Upcoming Events

Lefty Kreh's TieFest event will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, March 8, at Prospect Bay Country Club, 313 Prospect Bay Drive, West Grasonville. This show, sponsored by the Coastal Conservation Association of Maryland (CCA MD) keeps growing in popularity since it began about a decade ago. This is a new venue, and the show will now include, besides dozens of top East Coast fly tyers, presentations and roundtable discussions by local fishing experts such as Kevin Josenhans, Mark Galasso, Joe Bruce and Shawn Kimbro.

The 39th Annual National Capital Angling Show will be held Sunday, March 9, at the Haley Center for Athletic Excellence at Georgetown Prep School, 10900 Rockville Pike, North Bethesda, MD, from 10 AM to 5:30 PM. The featured speaker will be guide and author Kelly Galloup discussing streamer fishing for trophy trout and nymphing techniques. Dave Rothrock, Captain Tom Hughes, Dave Kelble and many other speakers are on the program. A "pre-show" casting class will be held at this location on Saturday, March 6 from 1:30 to 4 P.M. For full information on classes, presentations and vendors, see http://ncc-tu.org/published/annual_show/dat/2014_show_brochure.pdf.

CCA MD's newest event, Light Tackle Fest 2014, will be held Saturday, March 2, from 10 am to 4 pm at the Prospect Bay Country Club, 313 Prospect Bay Drive West Grasonville. The show features light tackle and kayak fishing with a number of speakers and exhibits.

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