It was cloudy and it was windy, but on Saturday, the first day of the boating season at Piney Run Lake, people did turn out to launch boats and kayaks and attempt to catch some fish.
"Even as cold as it is, there still a lot of guys with their own fishing boats. It seems like they're ready to get out and fish," said Eli Case, senior park assistant. He was sitting in the boat rental shack, warmed by a wood stove. "Someone caught a big striper this morning, about 15 pounds."
The boat rental business was a little slow, according to Brittany Mayne, park maintenance specialist, and Bill Oxx, park assistant.
"A couple of brave souls have tried to take a row boat out in the wind, but not much," Oxx said.
John Cherry and his 9-year-old son, Max Curtis-Cherry, brought their own boat to the lake to fish — and made sure to layer up against the chill.
"We were out there for three or four hours, using Max's new fishing pole from Santa Claus," Cherry said. "Soccer got canceled today, so the next best thing to do is to go fishing."
Of course, the opportunity to fish doesn't mean they will take the bait.
"No fish, but we saw a couple of bald eagles, though," Cherry said.
The father and son do plan to come back several times this year, preferably on a warmer, sunnier day with more angling action.
At about 3 p.m. near the kayak launch, Andrew Lightman — visiting Carroll County from the Washington, D.C. area — was piecing together what at first would appear to be a complex tent, with aluminum poles interlocking with black, plastic rings. It turned out to be a skin-on boat — a metal frame over which Lightman would stretch a waterproof membrane to turn a stack of poles into a water-worthy vessel.
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"Supposedly when I get good at it, this will only take me 10 minutes," Lightman said, fighting the cold metal frame into the rough outline of a kayak. "We'll see if that ever happens. It took me an hour the first time."
It took him about 20 minutes to get the skin stretched taut over the frame and adjusted so he felt comfortable, and then Lightman carried the now-rigid-looking kayak, which previously had almost fit in a suitcase, to the kayak lunch. After positioning himself in the vessel he looked out at the water.
"It's a little bit choppy," he said. "This will be interesting, to see how this does in the water. Last time I was out it was like glass on the Anacostia (River)."
Lightman needn't have worried. The kayak slipped into the water, and as he paddled, cleaved the chop until he quickly shrank from view to just a small spot on the distant lake.