- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Mary Tillotson, of the Communications Branch of the National Wildlife Refuge System, saw our May 7 fishing-with-children feature and said, “A lot of national wildlife refuges around the country — including Blackwater and Patuxent in Maryland — host a kids’ fishing day every year. We’re hoping you’ll give this spring’s round of fishing days some attention in your Times column.”

OK, then. The Patuxent Research Refuge in Laurel has a special children’s day on June 10. Children are invited to fish in the 52-acre Cash Lake, which is home to bluegills, pumpkinseeds, largemouth bass and catfish.

Volunteers and refuge staff will work with the kids, especially the younger ones and those new to the sport, promises Nell Baldacchino, the refuge visitor services manager.

“We’ll teach them how to cast, how to handle fish, and not to litter,” she said.

The fishing takes place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, visit www.fws.gov/ northeast/patuxent/events.html or call 301/497-5766.

If you feel like taking the little ones to Maryland’s Eastern Shore, the famed Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge near Cambridge will play host to its annual Youth Fishing Derby, June 3, for children ages 15 and younger.

Maggie Briggs, who runs visitor services at the refuge, said the day will begin with workshops where children can learn about what goes into a tackle box, tying knots and identifying turtles, snakes and fish. Then there will be fishing at Hog Range Pond, which is stocked with sunfish and catfish.

“There are so many fish in there, the kids catch them as soon as they drop their hooks into the water,” Briggs said

Anglers should bring their own rods and reels (there are a few outfits that can be loaned), but if you can’t find bait, such as nightcrawlers, the refuge will provide bait. Prizes are awarded in three age categories for catching the biggest and the most fish. All children get a free lunch of hot dogs, chips and soda, and bags filled with lures and other fishing accessories.

The children are also invited to bring frogs and turtles for the after-lunch frog jumping and turtle racing contest. For more information go to www.fws.gov/blackwater or call 410/228-2677.

Stripers Forever group upset — The Stripers Forever sportfishing group isn’t happy about the federal National Marine Fisheries Service again looking into the possibility of reopening the EEZ, a protective exclusive economic zone, to the commercial and perhaps recreational fishing of striped bass in the Atlantic Ocean. The board of directors of Stripers Forever always has been strongly opposed to the idea because it feels the stripers already are being fished a lot harder than they should be.

“The EEZ closure has effectively created a much needed conservation zone for large, prime, breeding-size stripers,” Stripers Forever said in a statement.

The organization also points out the most pressure to open the EEZ to fishing has come from Massachusetts and North Carolina, where commercial fishermen are hoping to cash in on a large presence of fish that now are protected.

If you want your voice heard, go to www.stripersforever.org and get detailed information on how to register a complaint.

Chesapeake Bay seminar — At 7 p.m., June 14, the Northern Virginia Chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association will conduct a seminar concerning the health of the Chesapeake Bay. The free seminar is open to the public, so those interested in helping preserve the oft-maligned Chesapeake are encouraged to attend. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Chris Moore will outline the foundation’s Water Watcher program, an educational, citizen-based project to report water quality problems that might be corrected and help improve the waters of the bay and its rivers and streams. The seminar will also focus on identifying dead zones, types of algal blooms and species of fish killed, then will discuss reasons behind these occurrences and solutions to water quality problems. The events will be held at the Vienna Fire House, at the corner of Center and Cherry streets. For more information, call Rob Allen at 703/626-2668.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report on Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: [email protected]washingtontimes.com

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