Dining on a self-caught, pan-fried, 16-inch brook trout immediately before sitting down to write about upcoming Maryland trout fishing rates among life's most pleasurable and satisfying experiences.
This delightful fish came from sandy, shallow waters of a Baltimore County pond adjacent to a little known non-public stream from which Dr. Ed Wenzlaff caught two brooks and a rainbow of up to 14 inches. It would be nice to claim these catches were made on artificials, but trout wanted no part of phoney baits offered by our party, which also included Ken Hartley, Bart McLean and Calvert Bregel.
Perhaps waters were still too cold yesterday for artificials -- even under warm bright sunlight. It was just before dark that my brookie took a pair of salmon eggs on a tiny hook flipped only a dozen feet from shore. Wenzlaff's fish took balls of Berkley Power Chunk, special trout formula.
This is a great bait to keep in mind now that the Department of Natural Resources' trout stocking is under way, which we will cover a bit farther on. Last summer, I noticed many Western Marylanders using these light brownish balls successfully for native trout in Garrett County streams, and Bregel -- my companion at the time -- purchased a jar of them on a hunch.
Incidentally, when Wenzlaff dressed his largest fish, also a brook, he discovered the tail end of the digestive tract was packed with kernels of corn, which raises speculation that someone had been baiting fish thereabouts. Corn, that's something else to remember.
Stopping by briefly as a spectator was Dan Brigham of Elk Creek Fisheries in Millheim, Pa., who was making a delivery of fish to private ponds several miles away, and who had on his truck something new he was experimenting with in his hatchery.
His tiger trout of about 6 inches are a beautiful mix of browns and brooks. Brigham, who is also experimenting in other exotic hybrids, also designs aeration equipment for ponds in which owners want to raise fish without concern for midsummer die-offs. His number is 1-814-349-8704 -- and no, our fish did not come from his tanks, and, no, I'm not disclosing the location of the pond we fished.
As for our DNR stocking, which started this week, nearly 300,000 fish will be released averaging one-half pound each, and this year there are new regulations for the Gunpowder.
From Prettyboy Reservoir to Falls Road, it is catch and return, artificial lures only; from Falls Road to York Road, put-and-take fishing with a limit of five; York Road to Bluemont Road, catch and return, artificials only; and from there virtually to Loch Raven, put and take with a limit of five daily. New regulations also apply at Savage River.
Details on closures, creel limits, legal baits and other trout info is included in two sections of the Anglers Guide issued with licenses. Refer to pages 14 and 25.
Following is the stocking schedule for waters from Frederick County east. The number in parenthesis indicates periods closed to fishing.
*(0): No closure
*(1): Closed March 10-30.
*(2): Closed March 24-30.
*(3): Closed April 14-April 20.
*(4): Closed April 21-27.