Baltimore County officials will close the Loch Raven Fishing Center, in Loch Raven Reservoir, at the end of October this year, a month earlier than in past years — a decision that one local angler says has left him feeling cheated of fishing time.
Tyler Judd, 25, of Timonium, said he has fished the Loch Raven Reservoir since he was in elementary school, and expected the fishing center's season to run through November, as it did last year. He learned through a post on a friend's social media account this week that county officials had decided to close the center, which provides boat access to anglers and others, on Oct. 31.
Judd said he purchased a launching permit for the season under the impression that the center would be open through the end of November, adding that the season had stayed open through November since he was a boy.
According to Judd, who also fishes competitively, fishing is best on the reservoir in October and November because large mouth bass swim in shallower water when the water cools.
"They're cheating us out of a month of the best fishing of the year," Judd said Oct. 13.
The decision to close at the end of October instead of the end of November was made last winter, according to Chris McCollum, the county's Executive Director of Agriculture, Nature and Special Facilities. Though the reservoir and the center is owned by Baltimore City, the county leases and operates the fishing center, which is the only access point boats have to the waters of Loch Raven.
It didn't make sense financially to stay open when demand for boat rentals and access to the reservoir's boat launch was low during November, McCollum said.
"We just don't have the demand," McCollum said. "We may see two or three people throughout the day."
The reservoir provides drinking water for residents of Baltimore City and some Baltimore County residents. Restrictions are in place to protect the reservoir; only boats with electric motors are allowed on Loch Raven Reservoir, for example, and swimming is prohibited.
The center has operated in the same spot — just off Dulaney Valley Road, near the northwest corner of the reservoir, not far from the Towson Golf and Country Club — for roughly 60 years, according to its general manager, Kevin McComas.
A permit is required to launch a vessel, such as a motorboat or kayak, from the center. This year 750 launching permits were distributed, according to McCollum. The permits cost $60 for the season.
The permit application doesn't list specific opening and closing dates for the reservoir, but refers to the permit being valid for the "2016 season," according to a copy of the document provided by Baltimore County.
What McCollum described as a clerical error on the county's website may have led some anglers to believe that the season was going to be open through November. Although one section of the page for the fishing center on the county's website states that the last day for boaters to remove their docked vessels from the center is Oct. 31, another section, which lists the season's hours, wasn't updated to reflect the change, McCollum said. It incorrectly said the center would be open on weekends through the end of November.
The information on the site was incorrect Oct. 12; as of Oct. 13, the site had been updated with the correct hours, stating that from Labor Day through Oct. 31 the center is open Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., and that it will be closed Nov. 1 through March.
The county will not issue a refund to anglers who purchased permits expecting access through November, McCollum said.
Judd, who said he has seen between 20 and 25 boats on the water on a typical weekend in November, said he doesn't care about the money but about the fishing.
He has started a petition to ask the county to keep the gate providing access to the reservoir open until the end of November. The petition is available at Anglers Express on Old Padonia Road in Timonium. He posted an announcement of the petition on his Facebook page, and about a dozen people commented supporting him, while more than 20 people shared the post showing their support.
Walt Marchant of Timonium, president of Baltimore Metro Reservoir Anglers Inc., a fishing club with about 34 members, said he was disappointed by the county's decision to close the center early, but understands the reason behind it.
"If they can't make the case financially, it's hard to argue that," he said.