I attended a regional hearing on proposed freshwater fishing regulations conducted by the Department of Natural Resources on Tuesday at Hereford Middle School. The Freshwater Fisheries Division, led by Director Bob Lunsford, proposed eight changes for next year.
Lunsford's department proposes the establishment of put-and-take trout fishing on Garrett County portions of the North Branch of the Potomac River and a portion of the Youghiogheny plus a portion of Linganore Creek, in neighboring Frederick County and Shad Landing Pond in Worcester County.
They also have proposed extending the put-and-take areas of Owens Creek, in Frederick County, from Route 15 downstream to Roddy Road and Middle Creek from the bridge below Spruce Run to the confluence of Spruce Run. Owens Creek, especially, is a favorite trout fishing spot for Carroll anglers.
Salt Block Run and Buffalo Run, both in Garrett County and two Frederick County spots -- Little Hunt Creek and Cold Deer Pond -- will be removed from the DNR list of put-and-take trout fishing areas.
Other proposals affecting trout fishing would be to turn the popular Little Hunting Creek into a catch-and-return area limited to artificial lures, add the North Branch of the Potomac River to the list of "Delayed Harvest Trout Fishing Areas" and add a put-and-take/catch-and-return trout fishing area to the Code of Maryland regulations.
This last, Lunsford said would provide for put-and-take fishing from March 1 through May 31 and catch-and-return using artificial lures only from June 1 through the last day of February in the Owens Creek mainstem from Raven Rock Road downstream to the bridge at Roddy Road.
Interestingly, not a single comment came on any of these proposals from trout anglers or anyone else.
The DNR intends to establish a 20-inch maximum size limit on walleye in the Potomac River from Jan. 1 through April 15 and add a Limited Harvest Fishing Area to Maryland's law books that would provide for "a total daily creel limit of 10 fish in these areas, only one of which could be a largemouth bass; and that a person may possess one largemouth bass per day, not to exceed 15 inches while fishing in these areas."
Such an area in Carroll County would be Roberts Field Pond. Other spots to be affected would be Allens Pond, Town Center Pond, Lake Artemesia, Indian Creek Ponds, plus all ponds in the Merkle Wildlife Management Area (all in Prince George's County) and the Eisenhower Golf Course Pond in Anne Arundel County.
Duke Nohe, representing the Maryland Aquatic Resources Coalition, asked the DNR to "increase the creel on all reservoir striped bass from two to four daily."
MARC, which represents more than 14,000 state sportsmen, testified Nohe, "strongly believes that the only predator fish allowed to flourish in the reservoirs should be large and smallmouth bass."
Some of those present acknowledged that a problem could exist because of relatively uncontrolled hybrid striped bass at such places as Loch Raven, Prettyboy and Liberty. Recent electro-shocking surveys, DNR biologists have said, have produced hybrid striped bass in excess of 30 inches from both Loch Raven and Prettyboy. Nohe added that he knew of at least one striped bass taken from Liberty last year that weighed 30 pounds.
Nohe also noted a potential problem being observed by Prettyboy bass anglers concerning large numbers of slab-sided white perch. It is widely believed that these fish were mistakenly put into Prettyboy by the DNR during hybrid striped bass stockings a few years back.
The subject of aquatic bait certification also came up. The use of all aquatic bait is banned in all Baltimore City-owned reservoirs, thanks to the zebra mussel panic.
Don Roberts and Clem Luberecki, both of MARC, in co-operation with the DNR, drafted a groundbreaking bait certification and passed it on to Baltimore City officials for their blessing.
The system would allow anglers to purchase and use bait that was certified to be free from zebra mussel contamination. This was acted on this week by Baltimore City and is now back into the hands of the DNR for formalization of certification procedures.
Other comments that the DNR is considering include a request for a youth fishing area to be established on Beaver Creek plus the establishment of catch-and-release bass area on the Potomac.
"We are seriously considering two such bassing areas for the 1995 season," Lunsford said. "One would be a two- to five-mile stretch, but no specific area has been studied. The other, however, would probably be on the North Branch of the Potomac below Barnum, W.Va."
The last scheduled hearing on these matters is set for June 2 at the Cedarville Natural Resources Management Area, beginning at 7 p.m.