Michael A. Sawyers
By way of a recent email, Thomas O’Connell, director of the Maryland Fisheries Service, said the regulations making it illegal to fish with bait or keep brook trout in 111 miles of the Savage River drainage will be retained.
“Based upon our scientific evaluation and reviewing public comments, we have decided to keep the current regulation in place.
“While there was support for continuing our regulations, I understand that others will be disappointed. The fact that poor reproduction over the last four years, which has reduced abundance below the levels at which we took the action, I believe it would be irresponsible for us to increase harvest and mortality at this time. A regulation can reduce losses to a population due to fishing, but it cannot replace fish not produced due to poor spawning conditions.
“We believe that the regulation has increased survival of the larger trout and preserved the quality of fishing through a period in which it otherwise would have deteriorated. These large fish will hasten recovery when conditions are more favorable.
“We are surveying populations again this year and there is some excellent research being done by staff at the (University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science) Appalachian Lab and by our own biologists which will provide important insight into the potential for improvement of this population as well as it vulnerabilities. We’ll continue to bring this information to the public for discussion as we work together to conserve Maryland’s brook trout resource and manage them to the objectives of our fishermen — not an easy task.
“These streams remain open to everyone, and fishermen should not let the prohibition on bait prevent them from enjoying the chance to catch some exceptional brook trout. We are seeing the maximum size increase each year. A handful of these are the largest ever documented in the Savage including a 14-inch fish this year.”
“Our hatchery managers reported no substantial (storm) damage, or impacts to their hatchery operations. Some had some minor tree damage, and lost power for a short period of time, however, our backup generators kicked in and did what they were designed to do,” O’Connell said.
Contact Outdoor Editor Mike Sawyers at firstname.lastname@example.org.