Sunday, October 10, 2004

Sometime this week a shoreline angler or wader in a Maryland creek or impoundment will get the surprise of the year while fishing for hatchery-stocked trout that normally wouldn’t fill a foot-long hot dog bun. But these days things can turn out differently. A fly or bait can touch the water and the line might shoot off to the side, with a serious commotion resulting because at the business end of the nylon, a 5-pound rainbow trout could be doing its best to escape.

Bob Lunsford, the Chief of Hatcheries and Restoration for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, laughed heartily when he described a scenario that will occur this month.

“Imagine some guy fishing in a small lake somewhere, hoping to hook a bluegill, when a 5-pound trout inhales his bait,” Lunsford said. “He’ll have his hands full, wouldn’t you think?”

The state’s trout anglers are about to get a bonus stocking of larger-than-normal rainbows as fall fishing begins. While Maryland doesn’t have a real trout fishing season as other states do, it does enter a more vigorous stocking mode during spring and autumn.

A donation of more than 1,000 trophy trout by the White Sulphur Springs National Fish Hatchery in West Virginia has been added to the fall stocking mix. It surely will result in more than one tale of the one that got away or a joyful unexpected catch. The trout from the federal hatchery will average 3 to 5 pounds.

Some waters in western and southern Maryland have already received a share of the trophy fish, and as soon as the water cools down in the eastern parts of the state, standard trout stocking along with some trophy-sized specimens also will begin.

Depending on weather conditions, golden trout (a color phase of rainbows) also will be stocked.

Lunsford said more than 32,000 trout are available for fall stocking, including 20,000 that will average 1 pound apiece; 10,000 will be 9 to 11 inches long; the rest will be larger than normal, even worthy of trophy status.

Among the state’s flatlands, it is interesting to note that the Eastern Shore’s Tuckahoe River (just below the Tuckahoe Lake spillway) in Caroline County will be stocked, as will Big Elk Creek in Cecil County.

Look also for trout in Southern Maryland at Charles County’s Wheatley Lake (Gilbert Run Park) and Myrtle Grove Lake. Central Maryland’s Patapsco at Sykesville and the Avalon area in the Patapsco River State Park are scheduled to receive a stocking.

Western Maryland’s delayed harvest areas that are published in your fishing license booklet will be or already have been stocked, as has Wills Creek in Allegany County and the Youghiogheny below Friendsville, in Garrett County.

Virginia’s trout beckon — Trout stocking in designated Virginia waters is well under way. The state says fall storms have trout waters in much of the Old Dominion in early spring flow condition. This coupled with the fact that many of the hatcheries carried over good numbers of holdover trout this summer spells good news for anglers who should enjoy fall fishing. The cooler days are more inviting and the streams less crowded than they are in the spring.

Category A and Delayed Harvest waters will receive their first incremental stocking this month, as well as some Category C waters. The Virginia Game & Inland Fisheries Web site provides details by way of a special trout stocking link.

The state has more than 2,800 miles of trout streams, in addition to numerous trout ponds, small lakes and reservoirs, but Virginia’s generally warm climate and topography normally limit trout habitat to the western portion of the state.

• Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column every Sunday and Wednesday, and his Fishing Report every Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail:

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