Despite a rough winter that has made the state's spring trout stocking efforts difficult, all locations set to open for fishing Saturday will be fully stocked, state officials said.
A little less than 335,000 trout - mostly golden and rainbow - will be released in total into public waterways across the state for the benefit of fishermen before the close of the summer. This includes seven waterways in Carroll.
Maryland has no fishable trout population, said Marshall Brown, coldwater production manager for the Department of Natural Resources. Because of this, trout are released each year by the department to create recreational opportunities for Marylanders, he said.
Trout stocking for the latest closure period will continue until Friday, Brown said. He expects all locations to be stocked on schedule, despite a few weeks of delay brought on by snow storms this winter.
"That was the main reason why we were held back - the ice and the cold," Brown said, who noted the spring stocking season usually starts in early February.
Ken Booth, a natural resources technician, said there were a few times that he recalls this year that workers had to break through ice when stocking trout.
Tuesday was difficult for stocking trout as well, although, luckily for Booth, there was no need to break through ice.
Booth said snow was falling as he went to stock trout in a stream and two ponds in Frederick County. He said DNR workers had to bring a smaller truck to get up a mountainside to the stream, because he worried the larger truck he was using was too big to make it up and down the hill.
"I think this might be the first time I have ever had to stock when it was snowing," Booth said.
Booth, and natural resources technician Chaz Ruse, also stocked roughly 700 trout Monday at the Landon C. Burns and Farm Museum Pond in Westminster. Conditions Monday were favorable for stocking - if you call temperatures that hovered around 30 degrees favorable.
Despite the cold, the sunny sky, lack of snow and unfrozen water made the trip much less difficult than when Booth stocked roughly 800 fish at the pond about two weeks ago.
That day, he said he stomped through ice that had built up at the top of the pond so he and another worker could run down buckets of trout from a road near the pond.
"That was a little treacherous because there was ice underneath the snow and we were walking and slipping," Booth said.
Booth said workers stocking trout at the reservoir at Piney Run Park in Sykesville had to use a digging bar to break through ice that had accumulated at the surface. Ice also needed to be broken through at Rainbow Lake near Emmitsburg; Cunningham Falls Lake in Thurmont; and Blairs Valley Lake, which spans Washington County and part of Pennsylvania, Booth said.
"Since I have been doing this, [this is] one of the worst winters for having to cut into ice," said Booth, who has been raising and stocking fish for most of his 25-year career.
On Monday, Booth pulled up near the pond and fished out the trout with a net from a tank fashioned to the top of his truck. He handed nets filled with trout to Ruse, who then ran the flopping fish to throw into the pond.
"That is very rare, because we usually don't get that close to a stream," Booth said, of the method the technicians used.
Booth said he was glad that all of the stocking is getting done on schedule. He noted that DNR builds in a lot of time for stocking to take place so that there are no delays before closure periods end.
"Luckily, it is not like every day we have to do something before the start of the season," Booth said. "We are caught up, and opening day everything will be stocked."
For more information on trout closure dates, and what bodies of water have been stocked, visit http://www.dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/stocking/?page=faq.