With yesterday's opening of the 1995 trout season, Maryland anglers officially can declare the arrival of spring.
Bob Lunsford of the Department of Natural Resources Freshwater Fisheries Division said before yesterday's start, "Last year we sold about 85,000 trout stamps, so I guess you can assume that the stream and pond banks will be lined to capacity again this year, too. Of course, not all of those anglers participated in put-and-take trout fishing, but I'd bet the house that upwards of 75,000 did."
Count me among those lining the banks of Beaver Run. This is one of Carroll County's three designated put-and-take trout streams and a longtime favorite of mine. The others are Piney Run and the Patapsco River.
Bennett Cerf Pond, the Farm Museum Pond and the Taneytown Pond also are stocked. Morgan Run, which is one of the finest trout waters in the mid-Atlantic region, is a stocked catch-and-release-only spot.
The DNR does a good job for trout fans in my experience. This year your $5 trout stamp helped stock 331,850 fish in 12 Maryland counties. The highest stocking counts, per county, are 81,600 in Garrett, 47,100 for Allegany, 42,800 went to Washington County, and Frederick received 41,800. Carroll County is stocked with 17,400 trout, which is about the middle of the pack.
Stockings are based not on numbers of trout anglers, but water suitability, thus the highest figures for the far western counties. Most of these fish are hatched at the Albert M. Powell State Trout Hatchery near Hagerstown and most of the stocked fish are rainbow trout.
I have caught native rainbows throughout central and western Maryland. The rainbow was brought to the state from the West Coast. Native rainbows have a bright pink or red stripe running the length of their sides, which you will not commonly find on stocked, hatchery fish.
When I was growing up in Baltimore County's Worthington Valley, it was no trick to catch a dinner of native brook trout from any number of streams. For the most part, brookies are small fish, though the state record is 4 pounds, 12 ounces, and I remember fishing with Gary Johnson in the early '70s when he pulled a 3-pound-plus-pounder from the tiny stream off Tufton Avenue. Brown trout are the last species to be found here, but they, too, were imported.
Store your pride these first two weeks or so of the season in the same closet you store your fancy fly rod. This is the time to arm yourself with cheese balls, salmon eggs, canned corn or worms and have a ball putting fresh fish on the table.
Last year I discovered Trout Nibbles from Berkley and believe them to be super trout tempters. They are scented, cheese-textured baits, and I fish them the same as a salmon egg. Just impale one on a #10 or smaller salmon egg hook with a sinker barely heavy enough to bounce the bait along the bottom of a stream. Use a sliding sinker in a pond.
The stocked section of Beaver Run is upstream of Route 91, south of Finksburg. As of yesterday's start it had been stocked with 750 trout and will receive another 750 the week of April 9-15.
Piney Run is stocked downstream from Arrington Road, south of Liberty Road. Initially it got 1,000 fish and will get another 2,000 in two separate stockings the week of April 9-15 and on April 30.
The stocked portion of the Patapsco River is from Route 32 at Sykesville, downstream to where it joins the North Branch Patapsco. This is an excellent stretch of water and one of my local favorites. The opening-day stocking put 2,250 fish in the water, another 2,000 will be stocked April 9-15 and on April 30, 1,500 will be placed there.
If you are trying to break the mysteries of trout angling, you might want to attend a meeting of the Patapsco Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited.
The next meeting is April 13 at 7 p.m. at the Hashawha Environmental Center's Bear Branch Nature Center, off Route 97, north of Westminster. It will feature a presentation on brook trout fishing by Larry Coburn. On Saturday, the chapter will conduct a fly tying seminar from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Ted Godfrey (410 239-8468) can give you the details.