Nohe knows every cove, cranny


Duke Nohe powered the trolling motors down to an almost inaudible hum and his voice dropped away to a whisper as he edged his reservoir rig into a warm cove at Prettyboy Reservoir.

"Those two hogs might have moved back onto the flat where they were sunning themselves earlier," Nohe said. "And, hey, an 8-pounder -- or, hey, two -- would really make my day."

An 8-pound largemouth bass would make anybody's day; and while the prospect was interesting, the fact that Nohe was whispering was even more so.

"Hey, I'm a talker," Nohe said earlier in the day as we fished a small portion of Prettyboy. "Anybody who knows me knows that. Hey, I give it to you straight, though. I shoot from the hip. Hey, that's just the way I am, like it or not."

For the past few years, Nohe, 56, has been shooting from the hip as head of the Maryland Aquatic Resources Coalition, a fishermen's advocacy group that was formed to fight Baltimore City's closure of its reservoirs to boat fishermen at the height of the zebra mussel scare.

In the 30-plus years before that, Nohe has spent a great deal of his free time fishing Prettyboy, Liberty and Loch Raven reservoirs. So much time, in fact, that Fishing In Maryland magazine uses Nohe as its source for its fishing map of Prettyboy.

"I know the reservoirs. I've seen them when they were almost dry in 1965 and 1969, during the droughts, and I photographed them," Nohe said. "I know where the old county road beds are, the sunken foundations of houses and barns, where the fish will be at sunup, sundown and midnight, for that matter; spring, summer and fall.

"But what I don't know is what the Department of Public Works is going to do with the reservoirs by the year 2000."

Nohe, who retired from a supervisory job at the Baltimore GM plant five years ago, sees a recreational logjam at the reservoirs as the metro area expands and the population increases. He wonders whether the city and Baltimore County are geared to handle the increasing numbers of anglers.

"These reservoirs need better facilities, toilets, repaved boat ramps, better access roads, finger piers that aren't falling down, and better facilities for the handicapped," Nohe said. "Hey, anybody using that little pier by the Prettyboy ramp is taking a real risk of falling in."

But that is the political voice of Nohe, head of MARC, which has grown from a few hundred members a couple of years ago to 14,000 now through agreements with the Maryland Saltwater Sportsfishermen's Association, the Federation of Fly Fishermen and the Maryland Bass Federation.

The fisherman's voice has fallen away as we edge farther into the cove and Nohe whispers where to cast and how to work in from the outside of cover. He seethes with quiet anticipation.

But the pair of 8-pounders spooked earlier have not returned to the sunny flat.

Instead, a solitary carp works away from us just above the bottom and Nohe works the reservoir rig out of the cove and heads for a submerged road bed and the adjacent shoreline that creates a deep slot alongside a submerged knoll near Hoshall's Island.

It is one of Nohe's favorite stretches of shoreline, one clearly marked on the map he makes for Fishing In Maryland.

The stretch turns up a 5-pound largemouth and a couple near 3 pounds.

In other coves and along other shorelines, spider jigs and crankbaits catch smallmouth close to 4 pounds and largemouths from 1 to 2 pounds, all taken as much by Nohe's local knowledge as by the lure.

"Hey, it used to be that everyone who fished here had secrets," Nohe said as he re-rigged a crayfish-colored spider jig; "where they fished, what they used, what they caught and when.

"Nowadays, everyone knows everyone and everything, so you just get along and share. Hey, I've caught my 8- and 9-pounders out of this lake and now I hope that some other people will, too.

"But, hey, that doesn't mean I wouldn't like to catch another of those big hogs. Hey, every time I come out, if I could."

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