Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

May 25, 2013

Maryland has ‘secret’ trout opening days

CUMBERLAND — Shhhhhhh!

Don’t tell anybody about this, but there are some secret opening days of trout fishing in Almost Maryland.

It’s true. On June 1 and again on June 16 some streams that had been closed to general regulation trout fishing will become available for the hooking, catching and keeping of trout.

They are the delayed-harvest trout fishing areas of Town Creek, Casselman River, Youghiogheny River and North Branch Potomac River (Garrett County).

That’s what I’m talking about. I always wanted to say that.

The Town Creek portion opens to worm dunkers June 1. The other three will welcome salmon egg floaters beginning June 16. All of them stay that way through Sept. 30.

At the other times of the year, you would be breaking regulations if you possessed trout or bait or if you did not immediately return a caught trout to the water.

Once bait becomes legal on these streams, the limit is five trout of any species daily.

Be sure to go to your Maryland Guide to Fishing 2013 to ascertain the boundaries of the delayed-harvest locations. You can read that online or in the print version. Obviously, here at the TN we prefer the print version of anything.

How secret are these openers? The answer would be “not all that.”

I have participated in a couple of these openers over the years, both on the Casselman. Believe me, anglers know when the guard changes on these delayed harvest areas.

However, Maryland Natural Resources Police Officer Brian Friend has seen more recent secret openers than have I and he says the increase in anglers isn’t dramatic.

“A lot of the people who want to keep trout are still fishing the put-and-take streams,” Friend said.

Friend said there are no special enforcement assignments because of the change in regulations, but officers keep an eye on things.

“The fly fishermen, especially members of Trout Unlimited, are watchful for us,” Friend said. “Many of them have my phone number and if they see something illegal going on they call. We appreciate that. It is good community policing.”

During the time of the year when you can’t keep trout or can’t use bait, anglers use artificials to dupe the Casselman’s trout.

Maybe it’s just me, but I thought the trout on the secret opener went out of their ways to strike the garden worms I drifted. In fact, the water was low and I could see them shoot out from near the bank to check out my bait when my cast was a little short.

When I fished these “openers” the limit was two trout. That has since been expanded to five.

After all, the idea behind delayed harvest is to allow the fish to be caught numerous times during the portion of the year when water temperatures assure survival, but to allow harvesting as warm and potentially lethal water temperatures lurk.

By the time general regulations kick in, Town Creek will have received 4,500 trout this year, Casselman 8,100, North Branch Potomac 5,000 and Youghiogheny 4,400. All trout were rainbows with the exception of a single stocking of brown trout into Town Creek.

Fishery Biologist Alan Klotz said literature shows that 3 to 10 percent of the trout in catch-and-return type waters die from hooking and handling.

Delayed harvest fisheries seem to be the best of both worlds, the perfect blend, the alignment of the angling planets.

For much of the year it allows those who like to catch fish on artificials a lengthy opportunity to do so. Then it allows those who like to catch fish and eat them the chance to do that before soaring summer temperatures combine with low river flows to turn trout vent up.

Of course there are people who like to do both. Ahem!

So, remember, June 1 at Town Creek and June 16 in the high country. Just be quiet about it. It’s a secret.

Shhhhhhh!

Contact Outdoor Editor Mike Sawyers at msawyers@times-news.com.

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